Google Docs now available offline

April 2, 2008 // 9:54 a.m.

Tags: #google #google-docs #offline #web-app #web-application

Web applications are all fine and good, but they're pretty useless when you can't get online. As a result, Google is planning to introduce an offline element to its Google Docs web-based office suite.

The idea is that the browser is able to contact a local copy of the applications via the URL, and from then on everything works as though you were online. Any documents edited whilst disconnected from the Internet are automatically uploaded to Google's servers the next time you go online.

Phil Tucker, a software engineer on the Google Docs development team, has posted a video demonstrating the feature to the official blog. I'll warn you now – he uses the term 'cloud' several times without the slightest irony.

Tucker describes the system as “all pretty seamless: I don't have to remember to save my documents locally before packing my laptop for a trip [and] I don't have to remember to save my changes as soon as I get back online.

The feature is available in the traditional Google 'beta' status immediately. If you're hoping to try it out, you'll need to install the Google Gears browser extension in order to set it up, and then it's as simple as following the instructions. Initially the offline editing will be limited to the word processing aspect of Google Docs, with spreadsheets and presentations left out in the cold. Hopefully this is something the company is planning to introduce in a future update, otherwise it's not quite time to ditch that copy of just yet.

Pleased to see Google branching out into the offline world, or should the advertising broker stick to what it's good at? Share your thoughts over in the forums.