Now Google Docs Tests Offline Support, Powered by HTML5

Google Docs team promised to bring back offline support this summer, but some traces of the new offline interface are already available. “I logged into Docs today and saw this! It’s not yet functional, but an exciting sign! The code is being pushed,” says Owen, a reader of this blog.

Angelo “saw a black bar flash up on screen quickly when loading the DocList of [his] Google Apps account”. After a few refreshes, he managed to see the bar that lets you switch to the offline mode. Unfortunately, Google Docs doesn’t work offline, at least not yet.

In a recent Reddit thread, a member of the Google Docs team said that “you’re going to see offline start to roll out later this summer. We used to have offline with Google Gears, but it became pretty clear that plugins weren’t the right approach. We’ve been reimplementing offline using HTML5 standards like AppCache, File API, and IndexDB We’re some of the first webapps that are really putting those standards to the test, so it’s taken a while to iron out the kinks.”

{ Thanks, Owen and Angelo. }

YouTube’s HTML5 Rickrolling

YouTube’s HTML5 interface has a very cool feature: if you right-click on a video, you’ll no longer see the boring contextual menu displayed by the browser that added uninteresting features like downloading videos. Instead, you’ll get a much more useful menu that sends you to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” video.

Some would say that this trick reminds them of the sites that annoyed users by disabling browser features like the contextual menu so that people can’t save an image or copy some text. But that’s not what happens here: YouTube’s terms of use forbid users from downloading videos and the new menu solves this issue by offering a better option. After all, why download a video when you can listen to Rick Astley’s fabulous song?

There are at least two uncivil browsers (Firefox and Opera) that treat videos just like images and allow users to right-click on a video and download it. Firefox even lets you disable custom contextual menus for all sites, while Opera provides more granular options. There’s even a developer that breached YouTube’s terms of use by creating a Greasemonkey script with a strange name: Youtube HTML5 Beta “Save Video As” Unrickroller. Apparently, he lost his sense of humor or he’s not a Rick Astley fan.

I’m not going to use any of these features and I’ll switch to Internet Explorer, a browser that doesn’t offer a download option for videos (mostly because it doesn’t support HTML5 videos). Whenever I want to download a YouTube video, I’ll ignore all those scripts and tricks and I’ll read YouTube’s terms of use, while listening to Rick Astley’s song. They’re a perfect match.

“… You know the rules and so do I …”

New Predictions for Google’s 2011

1. More free storage in Google Docs: at least 20 GB.

2. A new HTML5 interface for Gmail that loads faster, stores email offline and integrates with other Google apps like Google Calendar and Google Docs.

3. An updated Android keyboard that uses Google Scribd data to provide useful suggestions.

4. Google Earth as a WebGL web app and vector-based maps in Google Maps for desktop.

5. A database of things, where you can store important names, book titles, products, concepts and useful information about them.

6. Data sync for Google Chrome extensions.

7. Chrome for Android, with data sync, web apps, session restore, Cloud Print, built-in Flash and smarter address bar.

8. Google’s search engine will answer complex questions using inferences.

9. Google Personal Alerts will notify on your mobile phone if there’s something interesting around (one of your friends, a store that offers a discount for one your favorite products, a museum you wanted to visit, a shop recommended by one of your friends).

10. Google will learn to embrace Facebook and will start using Facebook Connect.

11. Google Online Store: the place where you can download Chrome/Android apps and games, e-books, buy magazine subscriptions, music and movies.

12. Android’s growth will slow down, but it will be the most popular mobile operating system because many companies will use it to create smart media players, digital cameras, TVs, game consoles and even home appliances.

13. Picasa Web Albums will become a Google Docs app and Picnik will switch to HTML5.

14. Google will acquire Disqus to make it easier to manage your comments and to improve Blogger’s commenting system.

15. Google Profiles will no longer be optional: when you create a Google/Gmail account, you’ll also create a profile.

16. Voice search and visual search for desktop.

17. Google will buy LastPass and offer an online password manager.

18. Google Wave will be resurrected, but it will have a simplified interface.

19. An online music player that will let you listen music from the Google Store or Google Docs, podcasts from Google Reader, online radios and more.

20. Google Fast Flip for web search powered by Google Instant Previews.

A curious guide to browsers and the web

Twenty years ago this month, Tim Berners-Lee published his proposal for the World Wide Web. Today, the web is an explosion of pages and apps teeming with videos, photos and interactive content. These powerful new web experiences—such as “The Wilderness Downtown,” our HTML5 collaboration with the band Arcade Fire—are possible thanks to cutting-edge web technologies that bring all this content to life in the modern browser.

But how do browsers and the web actually work? What is HTML5—or HTML, for that matter? What do terms like “cookies” or “cloud computing” even mean? More practically, how can we keep ourselves safe from security threats like viruses when we’re online?

To help answer these questions, we collaborated with the wonderful illustrator Christoph Niemann to publish an online guidebook called “20 Things I Learned about Browsers and the Web.” This handy guide is for those of us who’d like to better understand the technologies we use every day.

“20 Things” is written by the Chrome team, and continues our tradition of finding new ways to help explain complex but fascinating ideas about technology. Many of the examples used to illustrate the features of the browser refer back to Chrome.

We built “20 Things” in HTML5 so that we could incorporate features that hearken back to what we love about books—feeling the heft of a book’s cover, flipping a page or even reading under the covers with a flashlight. In fact, once you’ve loaded “20 Things” in the browser, you can disconnect your laptop and continue reading, since this guidebook works offline. As such, this illustrated guidebook is best experienced in Chrome or any up-to-date, HTML5-compliant modern browser.

For things you’ve always wanted to know about the web and browsers but may have been afraid to ask, read on at (or, you can use the handy shortened URL at If you find “20 Things” informative, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family!

Posted by Min Li Chan, Product Marketing Manager, Google Chrome

Arcade Fire meets HTML5

Today Google is excited to launch a musical experience made specifically for the browser. Called “The Wilderness Downtown”, the project was created by writer/director Chris Milk with the band Arcade Fire and Google. Building this project on the web and for the browser allowed us to craft an experience that is not only personalized, but also deeply personal for each viewer. “The Wilderness Downtown” takes you down memory lane through the streets you grew up in. It’s set to Arcade Fire’s new song “We Used to Wait” off their newly released album The Suburbs (which you may be familiar with, especially if you were one of 3.7 million viewers who live-streamed Arcade Fire’s concert on YouTube earlier this month). The project was built with the latest web technologies and includes HTML5, Google Maps, an integrated drawing tool, as well as multiple browser windows that move around the screen.

“The Wilderness Downtown” was inspired by recent developments in modern browsers and was built with Google Chrome in mind. As such, it’s best experienced in Chrome or an up-to-date HTML5-compliant browser. You can launch the project and learn more about it on our Chrome Experiments site at

We hope you enjoy it.

Posted by Aaron Koblin

Watch a Video in YouTube’s HTML5 Player

In January, YouTube launched a player that used the HTML5 video tag. To try this player, you have to go to and enable the player. If you have a browser that supports the video tag and the YouTube video doesn’t use captions, annotations and doesn’t show ads, you’ll be able to watch the video in YouTube’s HTML5 player.

What if you want to switch to the HTML5 player for a single video or you want to link to the HTML5 version? YouTube has a special parameter that lets you do that: just append “&html5=True” to the video’s address. Here’s an example: (link)

For now, YouTube’s HTML5 player works in Google Chrome (h.264; Chrome 6 adds support for WebM), Opera 10.6+ (WebM), Safari 4+ (h.264) and Firefox 4 (WebM).

Google Apps highlights – 7/16/2010

Rich text signatures in Gmail
You’ve been able to add plain text signatures to your messages in Gmail for some time, but last Thursday we stepped it up a notch by adding rich text signatures, one of our most requested features. Now you can create signatures with different fonts, font sizes, font colors, links and images. The feature also supports different signatures for different custom “From:” addresses that you’ve configured. Head over to the “Settings” page in Gmail to get started.

HTML5 features in Gmail on Safari
Gmail has recently added some new interactive features, like drag-and-drop attachments and images, and new windows that “outlive” your original Gmail window. These features are possible thanks to HTML5, but until this week, Safari users have been left out. All of that changed on Monday, and users of Safari 5 can now enjoy these helpful HTML5 features, too.

Simpler page navigation in Google forms
With Google forms (part of Google Docs), you can quickly create and send surveys to your contacts or publish surveys on the web. We started out offering simple one-page forms, but last week we made some big improvements to our logic branching capabilities. Now you can easily create multi-page surveys that adapt depending on how people answer your questions. Try it out for yourself in the form-based choose your own adventure game that we built.

More security controls for mobile devices
Businesses and schools using Google Apps often want the ability to centrally manage mobile devices that their users connect to Google Apps, and on Tuesday we rolled out several new device management capabilities. Organizations can now require devices to use data encryption, auto-wipe devices after a certain number of failed password attempts, require device passwords to be changed periodically and more.

Apps Tuesday: 10 new additions to the Apps Marketplace
Some technology companies burden IT departments with software patches and fixes every month, but our cloud computing approach means that customers get improvements automatically with Google Apps. In addition to all the new features built by Google, this month we added 10 new applications from third-party software companies to the Apps Marketplace. Third-party apps integrate seamlessly with Google Apps and can be activated by administrators with just a couple clicks.

Who’s gone Google?
More and more organizations are getting with the times and switching to Google Apps. Today we welcome Vektrex, Rypple, XAOP, Limbach Facility Services, Riley Chartered Accounts and tens of thousands of other businesses worldwide that have moved to the cloud with Google since my last update here.

More universities are preparing to reopen their doors in the fall with new campus technology tools, too. We’re excited to have University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, Universitat de Girona in Spain and The College of St. Scholastica join us!

I hope you’re making the most of these new features, whether you’re using Google Apps with friends, family, coworkers or classmates. For more details and updates from the Apps team, head on over to the Google Apps Blog.

Posted by Jeremy Milo

Gmail to Use More HTML5 Features

Computer World reports that many of the upcoming Gmail features will use HTML5. Adam de Boor, a Gmail engineer, said that Google’s goal is to make Gmail load in less than a second.

“If the browser supports CSS3, Gmail will render the pages using these specifications, rather than its traditional approach of using the Document Object Model (DOM). The company has found that using CSS3 can speed the rendering time by 12 percent. (…) Gmail will also make use of HTML5’s database standards. Now, the e-mail service uses Google Gears to store mail for offline reading, but over time that will migrate to the HTML5 standards.”

Another feature that will be added to Gmail allows users to drag attachments to the desktop. This feature is not part of HTML5, but Google says that it will encourage other browsers to use it. Right now, you can drag and drop files from the desktop to Gmail, but only if you use Firefox 3.6 or Chrome.

Adam de Boor revealed how many lines of code are in Gmail: 443,000 lines of JavaScript code written by hand.

Gmail has added many features that used to be available only in desktop mail clients: fetching email from other accounts, threading, powerful spam filters, reading messages offline. Now it’s time to better integrate Gmail with the browser or the operating system and to add notifications, a simplified way to handle attachments and a better performance.

{ spotted by George }