Google wants websites to function more like apps, even when offline

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Google wants to get rid of frustrating 404 error pages and make websites still feel interactive even if you’re not connected to the internet. So, the company has recently developed a new technology called “Service Workers,” and Google software engineer Alex Russell talked about it at length during the O’Reilly Velocity conference in New York this week. To be precise, Service Workers is a new browser standard that will allow websites to store documents locally, in order to render cached pages or any other interactive content anywhere you are. Say, you’re loading a website just as you enter a tunnel or reach an area with no coverage, you’ll then see an older version of the site instead of getting an error message.

Someday soon, users may be able to interact with their favorite websites even when these sites aren’t accessible, thanks to a new browser standard called Service Workers being developed by Google. With Service Workers, “We can make sure when you go to your site, it always feels responsive, that it is always there, even if it isn’t up-to-date,” explained Google software engineer Alex Russell at the O’Reilly Velocity conference, held this week in New York. A Service Worker “is basically an in-browser proxy that gives you the power to script what happens before you go to the network, and what happens after you get back from the network,” Russell explained to an audience of Web developers and administrators. Russell is a co-editor of a World Wide Web Consortium draft specifying how Service Workers should be implemented in browsers. Service Workers would provide a space on the user’s browser for offline processing, allowing a website to store documents, and offer resources. It could also speed delivery of Web content by reducing the amount of back-and-forth communication that goes on between a browser and a server. Web users are accustomed to seeing only a simple error statement if a browser can’t access a website. This however, is an anachronism, a primitive approach compared to how modern desktop applications work, Russell explained.

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