Web Browser indexDB = Sucks!

February 18, 2013

The Javascript programming language has become so powerful that really good applications can be developed and run inside a web browser. Free Javascript modules are also available with great widgets to make your ‘web browser-based’ app look and act like a real native application. After developing such a web browser app, I decided to convert it to a Google Chrome Packaged App so it can be installed and run on the Google Chromebooks.

As I discovered, there were lots of pitfalls with regards to writing Chrome Apps. Here are a few that I ran into:

  • WebSQL disabled – It turns out that the Web Browser consortium (whomever they are) decided to dump the WebSQL (SQLite) database system for HTML5 and go with something called indexDB. From what I can tell, indexDB is not a relational database system, but rather an indexed named-pair flat file concept. I think it was a bad move dumping the SQLite database system (which is well established) for some less featured system that is more complicated to code up.
  • Security Policies – There are lots of policies in place for security that handcuffs Javascript development with Chrome Apps. For example, I’m trying to use some Javascript modules that use the eval() function and they are prohibited in a Chrome App. As such, I can’t use those modules and have very limited tools available to me.

Because of all this, it seems you can only write Chrome Apps that are very limited and follow the strict protocols defined by Google. I understand the need for security, but these policies really limit what you can do. That’s too bad, since Javascript app development can really produce some great, functional apps!

Apache OpenOffice (Microsoft Office Replacement)

February 6, 2013

At work I use Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint daily as my main productivity tools. But at home, I’m using an Apple iMac which has a horrible implementation of Microsoft Office (super slow to start up). So instead of trying to use a Microsoft product on my Mac, I’ve chosen to install and use the freeware package called Apache OpenOffice. This is basically a replacement for Microsoft Office (written in Java, I believe) and it works great. Best thing about it, OpenOffice is available for the Mac, Windows, and Linux machines.

The “Office” suite is very easy to use, and I especially like the ability to open xls and ppt files, and conversely save my OpenOffice files in that same format. I’m sure there may be some compatibility issues when using complex features, but so far so good!

I highly recommend checking out this freeware suite of products if you’re using a Mac and want to have similar tools as Microsoft Office.