Google Chrome Bookmark Sync Coming

A developer build of Google's Chrome browser will soon support bookmark syncing, a feature that, once expanded to all file types, will become a lynchpin of Google's Chrome OS.
Google is planning to introduce a new developer build of its Chrome browser in about a week that will support cloud-based bookmark syncing, a move that treads on the toes of Mozilla's Weave project and bookmark discovery service Xmarks.

In a post to the Chromium mailing list on Friday, Google engineer Tim Steele said that synchronization code would start appearing in developer builds over the next few days.

"We have built a library that implements the client side of our sync protocol, as well as the Google server-side infrastructure, to serve Google Chrome users and synchronize data to their Google Account," he said.

In about three weeks, Steele expects Google's engineers to have removed code tied to Google's proprietary infrastructure and replaced it with public code libraries so the sync engine can be released as open source.

The developer documentation for Chrome's sync code says that it will allow the synchronization and storage of Chrome users' bookmarks "in a way that may be extended to additional data types."

The ability to synchronize and store any type of file through the Chrome browser will become far more meaningful once Google introduces its long-awaited GDrive storage service and its Chrome OS.

Google already provides a form of online synchronization for users of Google Apps through the open-source Gears technology that it developed. Gears allows Google Docs and Gmail to be used offline, and provides file synchronization once an Internet connection has been re-established. It stops short, however, of being a true synchronization application that mirrors locally stored files to the cloud.

LTech, a Google Enterprise Partner, recently introduced a related service for Windows users, Google Docs Backup, which copies Docs files stored in Google's cloud to a local hard drive.

James Joaquin, CEO of Xmarks, said that his company has been working closely with the Google Chrome team to introduce a version of Xmarks for Chrome later this summer. "Our key difference from built-in Chrome sync: Xmarks is the only bookmark sync solution that works across all major browsers including Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari," he said in an e-mail. "We offer maximum consumer choice, so our users can sync between browsers as easily as they sync between computers."

Joaquin also said that Xmarks offers a version of Xmarks that users can run on their own server, which obviates some of the privacy concerns that have been raised about cloud computing services.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on why businesses shouldn't shrug off Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).