Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Remember The Milk Offline

Category: Gears, Offline, Showcase

Remember The Milk is one of the early Web 2.0 entrants that keeps innovating. I think that they were probably the first popular-non-google web applicationto go offline with Gears.

They decided to take an approach similar to Google Reader’s offline model:

What can I do offline?

Just about everything that’s possible online with Remember The Milk now works offline too — not only can you access your lists, but you can add new tasks and notes, edit existing tasks (complete, postpone, prioritise, tag, and change due dates to your heart’s content), use your own personal tasks search engine, create new Smart Lists, and more.

We asked Omar Kilani of the team a couple of questions about the offline release / experience:

Why did you take the step of asking the user to go offline (as reader does) versus just taking the todo list data offline in the background?

The app state is always in sync, and everything is updated in the
background (data is stored as in-memory JS objects, and sqlite is used
as a backing store in a write-through fashion). So you can pull the
plug, lose your Internet connection, etc, and the app will notice and
switch you to offline mode.

Right now, we take a sort of hybrid modal/modeless approach —
regardless of whether the app syncs in the background, we also thought
it was important to allow the user to control the mode they’re in and
request a “sync”.

I think an analogy to this is the ‘Get Mail’ button in email clients —
most mail clients check for new mail in the background, and if you’re
using IMAP, you get notified immediately of new mail, but there’s some
security in seeing that button there, and knowing you can press it. :)

I think we need to improve the UI aspects of this, and we’re going to
look into doing that very soon. :)

How was the experience using Gears for offline?

Gears is awesome, and I believe it is the future of offline web
applications. :)

I personally feel it gives you all the right building blocks to do
whatever needs to be done to take an app offline.

What would you like to see the framework give you?

  1. Progress indication from LocalServer! (This would be very helpful in
    communicating with the user for the situation described above with
    initial manifest download
  2. A more stable WorkerPool. (It’s currently pretty easy to cause a
    browser crash with it.
  3. Off the top of my head, how about bundle support in LocalServer?
    Perhaps it can go download a Zip/JAR with all your files in it, and have
    the manifest entries point into that. That would be pretty sweet.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:38 pm
5 Comments

+++--
3.6 rating from 22 votes

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This is wonderful. I love RTM, and was equally blown away by how quickly (and how well!) they added support for Gears.

Thanks for doing the interview!

Comment by DeWitt Clinton — June 9, 2007

How easy to use Google Gears? Anybody can share out their experience?

Comment by PohEe.com — June 9, 2007

agree with pohee.
we should contribute our experience in google understanding

Comment by wow powerling — June 9, 2007

it’s so great

Comment by wow powerling — June 10, 2007

That’s fast. They are really pumping it. It’s cool to see commercial apps using it, it gives us more confidence in using it.

Comment by Liming — June 11, 2007

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