by April 3, 2007 0 comments



Online browser-based applications are nothing new. In fact, just about every
application today has a browser based front-end to it. Whether it’s a fancy
AJAX-based application like Gmail that you access over the Internet, or an
enterprise-class business application, which you access from your local network
or even over the Internet. The key in both is that your machine must be
connected. In fact, for most of us, life comes to a standstill the moment the
Internet connection goes down. The reason is simple. All browser-based
applications are created in such a way that you must always be connected to the
Internet to use them. They just won’t work otherwise. That has always been the
bane of the online world, and one of the reasons why many online applications
have not been able to replace their offline counterparts. Web-based e-mail for
instance has not been able to replace offline e-mail clients, simply because it
only works when you’re connected. Likewise for most online applications,
including some of the newer ones like online office suites and GIS systems.
Well, maybe all that’s about to change in the near future.

Anil Chopra
Editor

Work is on to allow various types of Web-based applications to function even
when they’re offline. This is primarily happening in the world of AJAX-based
applications. For instance, there’s the sitepen labs, which is working on
creating the Dojo offline toolkit. Dojo is an open-source toolkit that allows
you to build AJAX-based applications. The offline version will allow such Web
applications to work offline. They’re following a very simple but interesting
approach of using a proxy to cache all files that are needed to run a Web
application. Even when the network connection goes off, the Web browser will
never know and continue to be served files by the proxy. So the user would be
able to access the AJAX-based application without interruption. Likewise, some
work is happening with Zimbra, the messaging and collaboration application.
Zimbra users would be able to access their Web-based Zimbra e-mail client even
when they’re not connected to the Internet. They will be able to access all
their existing e-mail and respond to them. The e-mail would move to their
Outbox, just like it does in an ordinary thick e-mail client, and sent when
connected to the Internet.

This opens up a plethora of new and exciting opportunities for everyone.
We’ve been hearing about SOA-based applications for a long time, but deployments
have been slow and time consuming. Maybe this is the killer application that
will set the SOA world on fire. Open-source browsers like Firefox are also
working on allowing offline AJAX apps to work. Does this mean offline thick
applications are about to get a run for their money? Maybe it’s too early to say
so, but it certainly means exciting times ahead.

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