Google Gears was launched back in 2007 -- before Google Chrome, and back when web apps were still in their early stages -- as a way for web app developers to allow offline access to documents. Gears never really caught on, and was eventually replaced by standards-based solutions. Now, Google has announced that it's finally removing support for the Gears plugin from Chrome.
With Google now in charge of its own browser, there's no longer a reason to hack together a plugin for offline access to documents. The removal of Gears is a strong hint that Google's promised offline access for its own Google Docs -- scheduled for "early 2011" -- is almost here.
Install Cloud Save, and you'll add the ability to right-click files on Web pages you visit and zap (or sideload) them to various online services like Google Docs, Dropbox, Picasa, Flickr, Posterous, CloudApp, and Box.Net. The extension appears to be based on drag2up, another handy little Chrome extension, as you'll see some of the auth dialogs refer to it instead of Cloud Save.
By default, Cloud Save shows you desktop notifications when a transfer completes -- though you can shut them off if you like. It's a handy extension for zapping found files to your cloud storage without having to download them to your desktop first.
Once you've installed the extension, just highlight text on a Web page and press the webclip icon in your browser actions area. You'll see an OAuth dialog the first time, but from then on clips will be added directly to a document called 'webclips'. The extension even uses Chrome's notification system to tell you when your text has been successfully saved. As you can see in the screenshot, details about the source are saved as well. The page title, URL, and date of your capture are all inserted before your copied text.
Webclip has a lot of potential. With the addition of support for more than just text -- say images or rich formatting -- and the ability to save to more than one webclip doc, it would be a killer extension for Google Docs users who browse with Chrome.
I'm sure most of you have used Google Docs in one form or another. You might've shared a document with a friend or collaboratively planned your trip expenses in a shared spreadsheet -- maybe you've even used the new 'public sharing' feature for more nefarious purposes!
Even if you're looking forward to Microsoft's Office Web Apps, the point remains: we're doing more and more processing in the cloud. The platform that matters is no longer Mac or Windows or Linux, but rather which Web browser. And let's be honest, Web browsers still have a long way to go before they're as usable as operating systems. Sure, one day you'll have a Windows 7 Superbar at the bottom of Firefox, but not yet -- and that's why we have EXTENSIONS!
I should probably get to the point of this post: the Google Docs blog has collated a bunch of handy extensions for making the most out of... Google Docs. At their most basic, they provide 'New Spreadsheet' and 'New Doc' buttons next to your address bar, but advanced extensions like Snippy allow you to copy and paste entire sections of websites to a new Google Doc.
That's Chrome out of the way, but now someone needs to collate a bunch of Firefox add-ons for Google Docs integration. I found 'Send to Google Docs', but I'm sure you guys know of some other great add-ons? If so, share them in the comments!
Do you hate the way that Google Chrome handles PDFs? Are you tired of downloading them? Well, now there's an official Chrome extension from Google that lets you view all PDFs and PowerPoint files in Google Docs by default. Docs PDF/PowerPoint Viewer seems to work well for the most part, but the ability to save a PDF to your Google Docs account would be a useful addition.
It worked fine for me on the latest stable version of Chrome Mac, but some commenters have reported problems with the extension on their Macs. Also, it seems to have trouble with PDFs from password-protected sites -- even when you're logged in -- but that's a minor quibble.
If you're not running Chrome, I previously covered a userscript that does basically the same thing, so you can plug that into Greasemonkey in Firefox or GreaseKit in Safari.