Stopping the Gears

Last February, we let you know we were shifting our focus from Gears to HTML5. Over the last year or so, we’ve been working closely with other browser vendors and standards bodies to help define and standardize HTML5 features across browsers, and we’ve worked hard to improve these HTML5 capabilities in Chrome:

  • We implemented support for application caches, which are a great replacement for Gears’ offline features. App caches are already being used by web apps like the NYTimes app in the Chrome Web Store. There is also full-featured debugging support for application caches in Chrome’s developer tools.

  • Together with our friends at Mozilla and Microsoft, we proposed, specified, and implemented the IndexedDB API. This can take the place of the Gears Database API.

  • We implemented the HTML5 File API, which is very similar to the Gears Blob functionality.

  • We implemented the geolocation, notifications, and web worker APIs, which were pioneered by Gears, natively in Chrome.

With all this now available in HTML5, it’s finally time to say goodbye to Gears. There will be no new Gears releases, and newer browsers such as Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9 will not be supported. We will also be removing Gears from Chrome in Chrome 12.

The code itself will of course remain open source, and anyone is free to use it.

Our mission with Gears was to enable more powerful web applications. Over 5 releases, we added tons of APIs, enabling everything from offline access to parallel computation. Now that these features have all been adopted by browsers and have official W3C specs, they are available to more developers than we could have reached with Gears alone.

Edit: Corrected timeframe for removing Gears from Chrome.