Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

The Offline Battle: You aren’t on a plane

Category: Chat, Editorial, Offline, Screencast

The arguments around offline have been brewing for some time. DHH came out with typical flare on why offline doesn’t matter as you are either online all the time, or if you aren’t, you don’t mind it.

I hope that offline matters less and less over time, but for me connectivity can be very spotty indeed. It isn’t just when you are on a plane. EVDO and friends often suck. Wireless often sucks. Hell, if they can’t fix it so my calls don’t drop all the time then how can I expect decent net access from anywhere? And all of this is from someone living in the bay area, let alone Lonely, Wyoming, or somewhere in the third world (yes they have internet too!)

The folks at Cerulean Studios (makers of Trillian IM) have blogged about their offline IM client that is Flash based, but can jump offline.

The current focus of the technology is to rip application-quality web software *out* of the browser and *on* to the desktop. It is (currently) technically impossible (for security reasons, at the very least) to magically invoke a real application on your desktop without a download of any sorts; the current demo you’re watching is using a small Firefox plugin to do its dirty work. The actual IM product is still the same web-based Flash that you’re invoking from your web browser. In a way, you can just think of this as a mini web browser (very mini :) ).

Posted by Dion Almaer at 8:15 am

3.5 rating from 25 votes


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I believe the embedded youtube video is breaking you’re page layout. Looks like there’s a premature closing paragraph tag after the object tag.

BTW- it should be interesting to see how many “offline” web apps start popping up (with the advent of Apollo). Are we going to start seeing pure AJAX/HTML offline apps (non-Flash/non-Apollo)? I’m sure there’s probably already a few out there…

Comment by Jeff — April 4, 2007

Like with all new technologies people will use offline web app technologies in several unuseful ways. I’m sure in a couple weeks we will see complete websites on apollo, which won’t make sense since people can use a browser, but there are several good uses for offline web apps. For example, online office productivity solutions could use offline technolgies well (clearly firefox 3 would be more useful than apollo here).

Comment by Howard Rauscher — April 4, 2007

Does offline = outside a browser window?

I don’t understand how Cerulean’s chat interface would be at all useful without an internet connection (like on a plane).

Comment by jay — April 4, 2007

Yup, the third world do have internet and having offlinebility will help. It is desriable for on-the-move and/or on-the-field people. Donno, though, how WiMax or anything like that would change this scenario in near future.

In India Maharajas wants it just like they want any other convenience for life and snacks wants it as they want to be on the move all time :) .

Comment by Samyak — April 4, 2007

What’s the point of Trillian’s web app?

What does the user gain by having to download a FF extension vs. downloading the full client?

Some kind of download is still needed, so you may still suffer the same restrictions at a cybercafe for example.

Comment by Uh — April 4, 2007

I second Jay’s comment. The video only shows a IM interface that works both in the browser and the desktop. It doesn’t have anything to do with “offline”.

Comment by Julien Couvreur — April 4, 2007

I agree with DHH on this one. Offline is fading fast. If you care about offline, do widgets that sync to your web app. Building an entire platform based on the ability to do offline is a step backwards, a distraction, and overkill

Comment by phil — April 4, 2007

–yes they have internet too–

I am from a suppossed thrid world country, and I find that quite offensive.

Comment by Demola — April 6, 2007

“The folks at Cerulean Studios (makers of Trillian IM) have blogged about their offline IM client that is Flash based, but can jump offline.”

You’ve gotta be kidding me. Where are the editors on this one? I don’t read Ajaxian regularly and was about to add it to my feed reader, but after reading such a completely mis-informed post, I’m thinking twice. You might consider revising this puppy…

Comment by jason — April 6, 2007

okay, so the concept is that “out of browser” connected apps don’t live in the security restricted world of the browser. doesn’t that make them far more risky from a security perspective if they navigate to bad conect that can launch applications on your desktop, etc.? If they are limited in terms of what they connect to, so as to avoid those risks, doesn’t that make them more limited than general purpose browsers?

If these offline apps are really just workarounds for the browser security model, I think the better solution is just adding more rights for trusted sites, so that Google Docs could save a safe copy out to your desktop, for example…

Comment by matt m — April 9, 2007

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