I was wondering when they’d start doing this, given the address completion in Gmail (which admittedly has a much smaller scope): Google Suggest. Very nice indeed. If you’re curious how it’s done, Simon Willison gives a quick rundown. I think he’s right: this is just the tip of the iceburg.

Google is raising the bar on what people can expect from a web application. Until a year or two ago, when someone asked me to write something like this, I said no. Just no. It was possible with available remote scripting libraries, but inconsistently enough that it wouldn’t be worth it to the people asking me to build the feature. When asked more recently, I’ve hemmed and hawed. Yes, I could do it, and believe me it would be fun and I’d like to, but again: not worth it for what they asked me to do and the timeframes in which they wanted it done. The few times I did suggest remote scripting, it was turned down. No one expects that from a web application, after all. :-)

Now, though, Google is demonstrating to the world the sort of thing that can be done. Others like Oddpost have paved the way, of course, but a large company like Google is bringing it to the masses. Good thing, too, since I’m now in a position of having to demonstrate that yes, a web application can be responsive and do more than most people have seen.

And you know what else? It’s making me excited to work with JavaScript again.

Good times.

Update: Drew McLellan expands on this idea far more usefully than I.