I recently built a rails application on my local laptop. I built the
web application specifically to address one of my business needs. Over
time, the application has proven very useful. Because it is useful, I
decided that I would put it up online in the future and give other users
access. However, I started to realize that other users would have one
particularly annoying problem: no off-line access. I have been taking
advantage of off-line access by default since I am using the development
version of the sight. This is a problem that is somewhat obvious due to
the nature of the web and server-side app hosting. When you are using a
local app version, it is so easy to stay in “data acquisition” mode: I
constantly input data to the local app.
Dreadfully, the more I use certain web applications, the more I need
them even when my internet status is “off-line.” This is a serious
drawback for business users and will prevent them from totally switching
to server-side apps.
The other day I read something about Google releasing a toolkit which
was designed to help developers create off-line versions of their web
apps. This has the potential to revolutionize the off-line app problem.
Think about how competitive sights like basecamphq tend to work. They
offer a nice product for sure, however, If I can’t access the app while
off-line then I am in an uncomfortable “downtime” position.
I also thought that such off-line web apps would cause problems for
the account payment structures that exist in sights like basecamphq. If
there was an off-line version then how could they impose their account
structures? I guess it is just a matter of smart programming. (note:
when I talk about account structures I am referring to notions of
restrictions on things like number of ‘cases’ or ‘users’ or ‘projects’).
Oddly, it would seem strange to use the off-line version of some app and
be expected to be charged since I am simply using my local storage and
my local bandwidth. Of course, they did all the programming so they
expect a piece of silver- this I understand. However, we are dealing
with a tech crowd who have an odd psychological
Finally, here is my question: Does anyone know if the ruby rails team
is developing such off-line app features? I hope so, because Google is
posing a threat.
A threat? Yes, because if a user can continue using a website while
off-line, he/she is most likely to continue using that application!
This is so obvious and hence so important. Consider all the times that
you had no internet access for several months. Finally, you get back
online and you simply open accounts on the latest and greatest websites.
Simply put: the web app developers need their users to continuously
conduct data acquisition- any delay in the data acquisition process is
possible market share disruption.
Once again, my question is for the rails developers: have you
considered off-line app capabilities?
Philip Ronald Dutton