Like all roadmaps, things are subject to change based, in part, on feedback from our users. (Be aware that there are certain things that we would like to do but cannot because of technical limitations, some of which are listed on our What It Doesn't Do page.) Although we don't have any definitive plans, we are considering a few enhancements to the system. In alphabetic order:
Browser Cache: Gmail Notes checks the server each time a different conversation is viewed in Gmail. The server responses could be cached in html 5 memory to reduce the number of server requests. But because the response time of the Gmail Notes server (provided by Google App Engine) is so good, caching is not considered a high priority. The main advantage of browser caching might be for offline access.
Google Chrome: Google Chrome is the premier browser, at least in our opinion, and we use it for almost everything except Gmail (since Gmail Notes isn't available on Chrome). We were originally anxious to add Gmail Notes to Google Chrome, but have reconsidered for a number of reasons. The main roadblock is that the user-interface options in Chrome extensions are quite limited — basically, all extensions must use some kind of popup. And after seeing Gmail Notes in the Firefox sidebar, porting it to a popup in Chrome would be very unsatisfying.
We became hopeful when, in the summer of 2010, Google released an "experimental" sidebar API for the Chrome development release, along with the standard Google warning that the API may go away in the future. We did some prototype work back then that convinced us that we could make a "good enough" user interface for Gmail Notes in Chrome this way. But since we have been burned by Google before, we deferred full-scale development until that sidebar API was promoted to the stable release of Google Chrome. And that never happened. The sidebar API disappeared from Google Chrome sometime in November 2011. If you search online deep enough, you can find a post on some Chrome developer forum that extension popups will eventually dock to the browser. Hope that is the case, but for now, we are back at square one with respect to Google Chrome. This is sad.
So for now, no, there are no definitive plans to develop a Chrome version of Gmail Notes. We just aren't willing to make the investment yet. But, for what it is worth, if Google shows a more serious commitment to user interface options, we will get more serious about porting Gmail Notes to Chrome.
Finally, for those who cannot wait, someone else released a Gmail Notes extension for Chrome in late 2010. That extension has apparently been removed from the Chrome web store, but still appears to be posted at CNET Download (here). You might give that a try.
Good Docs Storage: We have considered storing notes in each user's Google Docs account instead of a custom datastore in Google Appengine, but for now we are not ready to do that.
- Users would have to give our code access to all of their Google Docs.
- There is a relatively minor concern that users would edit their notes in Google Docs and "screw something up".
- There is an API for using a Google spreadsheet as a simple database, which seems to have sufficient capabilities for Gmail Notes. However, the Google Docs servers are typically used for file serving, and we are not sure that they would provide the same (very fast) response times for discrete record transactions as the Google Appengine servers do.
- It would be much more difficult for us to debug and fix any problems interfacing with the Google Docs servers, since we have much less visibility into those servers than the current Google Appengine servers.
Google Gadget: We would like to develop a Google Gadget that works with Gmail, because a gadget could be used on any computer without installing a browser extension. Unfortunately, the current Gadget API for Gmail is too limited to make this possible (heavy sigh).
Notifications: We would like to add a small panel at the bottom of the sidebar page to occasionally display status messages. The main purpose would be to let users know about upcoming maintenance times, when the servers are typically in read-only mode.
User Preferences: We're not sure that any preferences are needed right now, but we'll listen to any suggestions. One thing might be to provide some color selection for the tabs.