Selling Snake oil to the masses.

It's interesting to see folks I've meet online flood my IM's, Email Accounts etc with "Did you see Google Gears, how cool is this!!"

I got the same reaction from JavaFX, Apollo, Silverlight and so on. I often look at these things with one eye brow raised, and I do this not to attack anything not Microsoft specific, but I'm trying to figure out what's in it for Google. It's my immediate reaction, as a company of that size would not sit on something like this and then unload onto the world without a reason.

Let's take a look at what Google Gears expected to do:

  • A local server, to cache and serve application resources (HTML, JavaScript, images, etc.) without needing to contact a server
  • A database, to store and access data from within the browser
  • A worker thread pool, to make web applications more responsive by performing expensive operations in the background.

My initial thoughts are "wow, offline / online connectivity, that's good!". Yet then I started to think about applications I would typically write with such ingredients. Let's assume I wrote a simple Calendar Tool, where I can plan out my month while I'm on the plane (as that's were we all seem to do the most work - never been able to unfold a laptop on a plane, except business class but anyway). I punch in all my details, and it stores them locally.

I then arrive into a network friendly zone, hook my laptop up and it magically synchronizes the data for me right? What it doesn't?  I still have to code?.. well.. that's not what the brochure said? (Hey they could very well pull it off, but at the moment it's oversold, over hyped and not enough detail)

I'm sure there will be positive business cases found for it? but what is it really bringing to the table and how many developers are sitting around today going "If only I had occasionally connected client status on laptops! - boy I can't tell you how annoying that is". Usually when they do, it's got a lot more complexity associated to it, and typically there would be much bigger and bolder collision algorithms associated to it.

Do I think Google Gears sucks? nope!, I just simply scratch my head ponder what the hell is in it for Google firstly, secondly me and lastly how will this help me get more runs on the board with development? (especially with Tools interoperability).

Adobe Apollo (YAB) absorbing it sounds positive for Adobe but it kind of looks like a PR push to bolster Apollo's name by cashing in on Google's fame (that's the sceptic within me talking though).

It sounds like Snake Oil in parts 🙂

Comments (5)
  1. So the assumption is Adobe attached to Google for hype? 🙂 Those statements have more than skepticism with the MSFT tag on you. lol. I know you’re open to things but that MSFT slant def’ comes off. 😀

    Check Ryan’s (Stewart) article on it ( It will provide you more information from a different perspective.

  2. WPF fanboy says:

    So when is Silverlight going to ship with cross-platform SQL CE, ADO.NET Sync Services and offline, out-of-the-browser support?  I’m still waiting for the announcement that ScottGu accidentally made on Channel9 pre-Mix but it never got announced at Mix…

  3. Garry Trinder says:

    John: No thats what you’re assuming, all I said was "it kind of looks", meaning if I didn’t know better one could easily draw a different context around the thought of "why lump Apollo in with Gears at all?".

    WPF Fanboy: When Scott Announces what Scott announces I’ll be second to know 😛

    Scott / Microsoft.

  4. Scott, I wasn’t assuming. That was a question, hence the question mark. 😉

    Also, Apollo isn’t lumped with Gears (or vice versa). They are providing an API to work with Gears. Whether this is in Flex Builder 3 by default (as a swc) or as a download from Labs.

    The slant still shows. 😀 lol

  5. Garry Trinder says:


    Apologise, I missed the ? part 😛

    Flip the lump a sec, why at all would Apollo "colloborate" with google gears? i mean what gains do they make by doing so – it’s something that’s a freebie, give it away and help the Google Gears fame & fortune a little – oh and why not slot my brand in there for a bit of free PR ;P kind of thinking.

    Apollo by rights has it’s own OCC piece, so again, one begs the question on why ( plugins, plugins, plugins it’s almost as if everyone wants the browser dead but can’t figure out a way to kill it other than to bury it to death with plugins) 😛

    Slant? not really in this case I’m not convinced it’s doing something worthwhile just yet, i’ll hold out on a final opinion until i see it in the wild and how others use it, but suffice to say most are rolling their eyes and asking "Yet another plugin?" 🙁


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