During the late 1990's the Pharmacology Department at (NWU) started a distance learning programme for the further education of health care professionals. Due to low bandwidth connections and high internet access costs a combined off-line/on-line mode of study was proposed.
This requirement has come a long way and initially the chosen technology was an MS Windows based application written in Delphi or Visual Basic. Java was not considered due to its heavy load on processor and memory usage for entry level computers.
When Psybergate was asked to do an investigation in 2007 the Java technology was chosen and a proof of concept project was conducted. Google Gears combined with Google Web Toolkit were selected as key building blocks. This made it possible to develop a rich browser based AJAX application with the ability to cache online files and to synchronize database content to a local database. The AJAX application itself is also cached by Google Gears so that it can be launched offline.
The end product was a stand-alone, browser independent, eye-catching browser application that can talk to a Sakai RPC service over a TCP/IP connection.