Tuesday, January 27th, 2009>p>Gmail Offline has been an incredibly long wished for product feature and now it is coming (takes time to push it out to people and it will appear in Settings – Labs).
This is a big deal. It uses Gears of course, and many people are always saying “it’s about bloody time.”
This is easy to say from the comfort of the arm chair at home. In reality, an architectural change like this is huge. Moving to a sync model that works reliably is tough in the best of times, and when you try to do it to a product that is popular, it gets that much harder to do right.
I got to use this when I was working at Google and saw numerous ups and downs (one version works well, then it gets buggy, then it gets better, etc). It was fantastic to be able to use it on the plane (or would have been if I wasn’t scared that someone would look over my shoulder). It resets expectations. You get used to opening up the browser when you KNOW you are offline. Having this in a product that you use as much as email will change user behaviour and will lead us down the path of more easily being able to do browser like things when connectivity is rough. Hell, knowing that WiFi jumping up and down won’t affect me is a big deal.
Congrats to Andy Palay and the team. I hope that we get to see an interview him as he discusses the architecture and the various tweaks to that architecture as they nailed this all down. We have much that we can learn from the process.
If you don’t have it in your “Labs” settings (I don’t right now, and the witing game is annoying I know!) check out the high level video: