Google Web Accelerator Problems

Google's Web Accelerator, now a closed beta, apparemtly caused problems for a bunch of people recently. The folks over at Geek News Central are upset:

Well you all stepped in a big pile of Horse dung and the flies are following you into the house. Your introduction of WebAccelerator is costing me time, money and valuable statistical data. Where do I sent the bill.

The folks at 37signals are also annoyed:

The accelerator scours a page and prefetches the content behind each link. This gives the illusion of pages loading faster (since they’ve already been pre-loaded behind the scenes). Here’s the problem: Google is essentially clicking every link on the page—including links like “delete this” or “cancel that.” And to make matters worse, Google ignores the Javascript confirmations. So, if you have a “Are you sure you want to delete this?” Javascript confirmation behind that “delete” link, Google ignores it and performs the action anyway.

While there is some debate over the technical merits of whether actions that change the state of things should be done with GET versus POST commands in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) side of the house, that's besides the point. Other webcrawlers, including Google's own search engine, don't have this problem because they don't surf with the permissions of a trusted user. When someone surfs with Web Accelerator every GET link on their VISA card's web page is surfed while they check their balance and make a web payment.

Most forms are done with POST but what are the chances that someone just used a GET for something simple? Do you want to take that chance?

Google now has a lot of work to do to regain trust from a lot of influencers in the web application side of the world.

Josh Poulson

Posted Sunday, May 8 2005 08:11 AM

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There are 3 comments on this entry.

You must remember that it is Beta Test software, not full release. You can have many problems with Beta Test. If you were Beta Testing a new operating system, your system could fail to the point of losing all your data. Beta Testing doesn't always go smoothly and Google is getting a lot of good information from the test.

Now they will have to decide whether to make major changes and overhaul the software and possibly start from practically scratch, or continue and work out the bugs.

Ryan Scott

Posted Sunday, May 8 2005 08:35 AM

As someone that makes software for a living, I don't think it's appropriate to release “beta” software to the public if it's obviously not been thought through. This software, combined with the kinds of websites many people use on a regular basis, was destructive to data. It was also very annoying. Some people reported the deletion of records from their online services. Some people reported mysterious items being added to their shopping carts.

This is not an operating system that was released, this was a piece of software designed to speed the web. No one beta-testing such software would expect destructive side effects!

Josh Poulson

Posted Sunday, May 8 2005 09:26 AM

Perhaps it was more of an alpha test and shouldn't have been released to the public, just tested on the inside.

Ryan Scott

Posted Tuesday, May 10 2005 05:39 PM

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