The Web meets the desktop with Tubes

At DEMOfall 07 the usual assortment of applications with a twist on social networking, media sharing and shared workspaces were introduced. Between ZDNet and CNET Webware we covered the majority of the products demoed.

At DEMOfall 07 the usual assortment of applications with a twist on social networking, media sharing and shared workspaces were introduced. Between ZDNet and CNET Webware we covered the majority of the products demoed.

Tubes Networks also unveiled a product with social networking and media sharing aspects, but it goes far deeper than others shown at DEMO. It's more of an application platform with a replication engine, relational database, a local Web server, a UI presentation layer, APIs for building applications and hosted servers and storage.

Tubes is an application built on the platform that allows users to distribute any kind of content, synchronized online and offline so the latest version is always available. Items can be dragged and dropped into Tubes, which replicates the data and folder structure to the Web server and gives every file and Tube a URL.

Google Gears, in beta, is a browser extension that provides offline access to Web content, but Tubes today has a richer environment.

A Tube is basically a metafile with behaviors, such as access privileges for each subscriber, associated with it that is automatically synchronized bidirectionally, according John Landry, Tube Networks founder, CTO and chairman. In addition, every Tube can be viewed as a Web site and Tubes can be shared among users, who are assigned different roles and privileges, by sending invitations via email via a built in console.

Tubes, which requires 13.5 megabyte Windows (or Parallels) client download, is free with 1 gigabyte of storage. Paid versions start at $5.95 per month for a 5-gigabyte account.

I've known John since his days as CTO of Lotus, where replication was king. The technology for Tubes came out of Adesso Systems, which targeted file synchronization and management software for corporations. Last year, Landry and company refocused the technology toward a more consumer audience.

"We are at the intersection of the desktop and the Web," he told me. "You have rich applications offline but no way to share them other than the network drive. Tubes lets users access their desktop content from any browser and navigate Web sites on their desktop without an Internet connection. It's the best of both worlds."

It not hard to see Tubes as intersecting business and personal usage. You can create Tubes with vacation photos, video, travel plan etc. and share it with family member or share various documents with a workgroup, including those who don't have the Tubes client application. The company is working on embedding Tubes with Facebook.

In addition, Tubes Networks offers developers support for .NET, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, AIR and other technologies. Edmunds.com and Floorplanner.com have integrated with the Tube platform to provide offline access to their hosted applications.

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