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Zoho Writer goes offline with Google Gears

One of the first Web application providers to support Google Gears, Zoho says it will expand support in its product suite.

Web application suite provider Zoho is one of the first companies to take advantage of Google Gears, a browser plug-in that enables people to run Web applications offline.

Zoho on Tuesday announced that its online word processor, Zoho Writer, has added a "Go Offline" button by integrating with Google Gears. The company said it will add offline access to more of its Web application suite and contribute to the Google Gears open-source project.

Zoho Writer adds a Go Offline button using Google Gears.

In the first incarnation, Zoho Writer's offline capabilities are limited. People can view up to 15 documents when they're not connected to the Internet. In the coming weeks, Zoho will enable people to make edits before going back online.

Not having access to Web applications and data when people are offline has long been one of the biggest knocks against online applications.

Google Gears, which is still in beta, is a plug-in for Firefox and Internet Explorer that installs a small database to store data locally. When people go back online, that data is updated.

Developers need to rework their applications to take advantage of Gears. When it announced Google Gears in May, Google said its RSS reader, Google Reader, could work offline with Gears.

Google Gears isn't the only route to offline Web applications. AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime), formerly called Apollo, is another plug-in that enables people to run Web applications as if they were desktop applications. AIR is now in beta and a version 1.0 is due in the first quarter next year.

ThinkFree, another Web office suite, started offering offline access in a premium version earlier this year.