Friday, June 1, 2007

Thanks again

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Google Developer Day AU Highlights

Australia’s Google Developer Day has drawn to a close with a presentation from Michael Ashbridge on KML and Google Earth. The full rundown of talks is at, but I thought I’d share some of my own highlights.

  • The great Google Gears announcement. You could hear the wheels turning in hundreds of web developers’ brains in the audience thinking about how they could use this in their applications.

  • Aaron Boodman’s “Look, no wires” demonstration of Google Gears. Aaron demonstrated his product’s efficacy by dramatically unplugging his laptop from the network in the middle of his talk.

  • Bo Majewski invades England. Bo Majewski gave a talk on the Google Maps API, demonstrating its abilities by putting pushpins with his face on them all over the English countryside, creating a surreal, Being John Makovich-esque effect.

  • Zhen Wang’s short but densely-packed talk on Google Gadgets which not only gave us a whirlwind introduction to a very popular Google tool but left us 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

  • James O’Loghlin getting progressively nerdier as the day went on, even bantering about “alogarithms”.

  • Lars’ excellent talk on Open Source, Google APIs and GWT – really summing up the reason why we’re all here and showing off Google’s efforts to build a developer community around its products.

  • One developer in attendence commenting on Prakash Barathan’s talk: “Hrmm, gdata RESTyness looks tasty.”

  • Michael Ashbridge’s lovely Irish accent and habit of pronouncing “URL” as “earl”. Also, the sheer coolness of his giving a talk about KML in Google Earth using Google Earth as the sole presentation platform.

  • Seeing examples of how developers are using Google APIs in ways the original designers never imagined.

  • Free, good food. I wouldn’t have liked to have seen 500-ish developers in a room together had we not provided tasty food and free coffee.

But the biggest highlight for me was meeting a whole bunch of Australian software developers. I personally hope that we can continue to develop the relationship between Google Australia and the Australian development community, and to keep hearing about new technology coming out of Australia.

Lars Rasmussen talks about Open Source, Google APIs and GWT

Lars’s talk began with an apology and a thrown-down gauntlet: Lars promised us that he had three things to talk about, each of which could fill the 45 minute slot which he had been allocated: Google and Open Source, Google APIs and Google Web Toolkit. Lars apologised for what may appear to be a rushed talk, and like one of the Iron Chefs wasted no time getting straight down to business with such an ambitious array of dishes to deliver.

First, Google and Open Source. This is a topic close to my own heart, as with many Google Engineers: we are pleased and proud to use open source software from the Linux kernels running on our many servers to the open source libraries we use in our code, to open source IDEs and web browsers on our desktops. We also try to contribute back to the open source community by releasing a lot of our own code as open source: notably Google Gears which was announced today, and Google Web Toolkit. (I’m also a big fan of Guice, our open source dependency injection framework for Java.) There are many reasons for Google to use open source; a couple that Lars mentioned are that it gives us control and freedom from having to deal with third-party vendors when something doesn’t work, and more fundamentally it’s a good fit for Google’s “don’t be evil” culture.

Next, the Google APIs. He told us, “whenever we are making a new product, we are always looking for developer angle” while demonstrating the impressive list of Google APIs already in existence. If not for the Google APIs we would not have such a great crowd of developers here today, and it is an ongoing goal to continue to support this community.

Finally, Lars turned our attention to Google Web Toolkit. Prefacing his appraisal with a disclaimer that he wasn’t part of the team that built GWT and thus had no reason to brag about it, he stated simply “it rocks.” He should know; as he pointed out, he has spent the last three years building one of the most well-known AJAX applications: Google Maps. He explained the problems with “traditional” AJAX: browser incompatibilities, difficulties of managing a team collaborating on scripting, repetitiveness of writing HTML and Javascript by hand. In contrast. GWT lets you write a web front-end in Java which is compiled to Javascript which takes care of browser quirks. And the compiled Javascript is fast. Lars demonstrated the advantages of writing code in a strongly typed language by writing a GWT application live in front of the audience (using the Eclipse IDE) and showing how a typo that wouldn’t be found until runtime in Javascript was immediately found by the Java compiler, and how using an IDE can speed up development over manually editing text files in a plain editor. (I think Steve Yegge might have something to say about that.)

So, three delicious dishes served up by a master of the web development cuisine. I think Lars needn't have worried.

Aaron Boodman's talk now on YouTube


Photos from AU Developer Day online

We have some photos online from our roving photographers: You can see photos from the other developer days at And if you're reading this from Developer Day Australia, don't forget to tag them with gdd07 when you upload them to Flickr, Photobucket, or Picasa Web Albums.

Some photos that have caught my eye:

Lunch at Tokyo Developer day looks tasty!
The food here wasn't too shabby either.
Australian developers taking advantage of the bean bags - it was a very early start for those who travelled interstate this morning.
A look at the audience here today (watching Bo Majewski's talk on the Maps API)

Google Gears in the news

There is already some buzz in the press about Google Gears. The Sydney Morning Herald has a story here: and PC World’s article can be found here:,132403-c,webservices/article.html.

Also, in my excitement about the big announcement I forgot to mention that you can try Google Gears for yourself right now, because it has been built into Google Reader. Go to and click the “Offline” link in the top right-hand corner. As one of the developers sitting in the audience pointed out, “I might have something to do on the plane ride home tonight”.

Mapplets with James Macgill