James Governor's Monkchips

IBM and Sun turn lead into gold: Write Once Walk Anywhere

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When Adam Bosworth announced Alchemy back in May 2004 it seemed like one of the key limitations of browser-based applications, that is, the lack of a mechanism for offline storage, was on the verge of being removed. But then Adam went to Google and the Alchemy project went up in a puff of greasy black smoke. Me and Jon Udell have been waiting impatiently for Alchemy ever since, with nary a word from Google, or BEA, Adam’s previous employer.
Says Jon:
Adam Bosworth probably regrets having shown me the Alchemy prototype in the summer of 2004. I’m like a dog with that bone, constantly gnawing. Alchemy was about pushing data intelligence into the browser. Its core components were a lightweight XML datastore and…wait for it…a simple synchronization engine.
I am glad to report that we may be on the verge of a solution to the problem-how do I use web apps when i am not plugged into my services?-through the good work of Sun, Apache and IBM.
Yesterday in an ApacheCon keynote Sun’s Tim Bray demonstrated some integration between Sun’s software stack and Apache Derby, a 100% Java database, and at least one self-declared skeptic came away impressed. Write Once Walk Anywhere…
From the Sun press release:
The latest release of the Sun Java Enterprise System (release 4) now uses the open Java DB as its application-embedded and Java developer database. The open Java DB is incorporated in the Sun Java System Portal Server 7.0 for use in data storage; it is used as well as the development database within all versions of the Sun Java System Application Server, including the open source Project GlassFish.
So if I read that right Sun Java Enterprise Portal Server applications have an offline option as standard. Apparently the demo rocked. Here is Apache marketing on the subject.
Web 2.0 is going to need models for offline useage if its going to enter the mainstream and start heading into rich client territory. If only I could take bloglines with me when unplug my laptop…
RSS is going to become a two way street, this being the read/write web (hat tip to Richard Macmanus, Hal is just a johnny come lately) and that means a store of some kind at either end of the pipe. We need to be able to deal with both wire truth and database truth.
Yahoo just bought del.icio.us. So why not build a del.ico.us for my desktop? Josh now has the resources, and here is a potential mechanism for implementing such a thing.
We can expect a response from Eclipse to the latest Derby news. The need to include a standard data store in the platform has become rather pressing. Derby is the obvious choice. Like IBM’s Jon Prial said, Cloudscape is viral as hell. Well done IBM for setting it free.
Open source is the real alchemy here, with Apache as an intermediary allowing the blending of Sun and IBM intellectual property, turning base metal into gold. Another recent blending was Derby and Roller.
This is all good, if like me, you like Web-based apps.  The launch of Microsoft Vista next year gets more and more interesting. Hey dude, who stole my advantage?



  1. FYI, Francois Orisni, the author of the mozilla/derby demo, has a blog entry on the demo. It looks as if he wiill open source the demo so you can check it out yourself when available:



  2. “This is all good, if like me, you like Web-based apps. The launch of Microsoft Vista next year gets more and more interesting”
    Could you explain this passage a little better please?

  3. AJAX, local persistance with Derby, seems to me like we’re making the browser fatter and fatter. I mean, why not use WebStart? with rich client apps that have permissions to use local resources? Shouldn’t we just leave the browser what its good at, i.e thin-client? instead of transforming it into an abstract OS environment?

  4. i think perhaps we need a database alex. i take your point but its about the discontinuities.

    i guess you could argue they are web apps so just use them on the web. but i want them when i am offline too.

  5. Hmmm, we already have some of examples going around, look at Google Desktop, it allows you to search and view your email offline. But their approach was developing a platform specific (standard?) application. But I thought the idea was to evolve to ubiquitous connectivity! 🙂

  6. GD is windows only, isn’t it? actually what *does* it use as a store? some kind of index and flat file rather than a relational database i assume. oh great – *more* research i need to go do…

  7. FYI, a prototype for an AJAX-based online/offline wiki: http://blog.monstuff.com/archives/000272.html

    This approach still takes a lot of work and needs to be improved, but it shows some promise.

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