For those who do not know yet, Google Docs is a free web-based application provided by Google that allows you to create and manage documents, spreadsheets and presentations online or offline (without an Internet connection). For Google Docs users, the offline access is possible due to the implementation of a new powerful feature: Google Docs offline. Google Docs
uses Google Gears in order to determine the availability of web based applications at desktop level. Google Gears is a browser add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer and will make the Google Docs application function offline.
If your Internet connection is closed for a while and you are working offline, the document modifications are stored on the local computer. When the Internet connection is established, the offline modifications will be reflected in the online version of the document because a synchronization process will automatically take place between the edited document on your computer and the server. The document synchronization process will be possible only if you are accessing Google Docs from the same computer and web browser where the document was edited.
The Google Docs offline feature can be easily enabled: after you sign in into your account you must click the Offline link situated in the upper right corner of the main window. The Google Gears application must be downloaded to a specified location on the local hard drive and then installed. It is recommended to close all browser windows before beginning the installation process.
In order to be able to install Google Gears, you will need to have Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers installed on a computer with Microsoft Windows XP or Vista, Mac OS or Linux operating system.
When you are working offline the application will notify you with a written message situated near the top of the window. The offline status is also indicated by the gray color of a led in the upper right corner (the green color indicates the fact that you are working online). If the led color is red then the offline editing feature is not available because of a certain error.
Google Docs offline will definitely improve the Google Docs application giving it more functionality and offering the user a better experience. Google Docs can be considered a good alternative for desktop based application packages like Microsoft Office or Open Office.