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Google Developer Day 2008

Posted on: 17 September, 2008

  • In: Dev thoughts
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I had the fortune yesterday to attend the Google Developer Day 2008 in Wembley Stadium with a colleague from work.

We were told there were around 800 people there but with everyone sat down at the morning keynote meeting it didn’t seem like so many. Also, pretty much everyone there had an iPhone! Everywhere you looked someone had an iPhone out. I guess it’s not surprising with so many geeks in one room 😛

The whole experience was good, the talks were in depth and on the most part interesting (we went to the wrong room at one point due to a late room switch and I couldn’t help but get a bit sleepy – the room was hot!).

There was an interesting talk by Dion Almaer on AJAX, Dion is the co-owner of Ajaxian. The session was called ‘The State of AJAX’ and he talked about how AJAX has come along in recent times and about the current popular javascript frameworks and libraries. He made a good summary of the current status of these frameworks and talked about how with each framework’s most recent user interface plug ins they are all very similar in functionality.

So which framework is best to use is now down to personal preference, where as before it was down to which framework was best for what you wanted to do. It certainly made me think about how JavaScript has become a mainstream language and it’s made me think about concentrating on JavaScript as my primary language. It’s strange, as up until recently a lot of people only saw JavaScript as an ‘add-on’ language, if that’s the right way to describe it. But now with the way the web is going, with rich user interfaces and applications, JavaScript is definitely the way forward.

There were also talks on the Google App Engine and Google Web Toolkit. Both of these are very interesting offerings but I’m not sure whether I personally, or the company I work for will have use for either of them. At least for the near future.

The Google App Engine is – in it’s most basic form – another cloud service. Much like Amazon’s EC2 service. Google are now offering the ability to host your web site or application on their existing infrastructure/system architecture. There are the same obvious advantages to using this system as there are with Amazon; large scalability, strong infrastructure, fast up link speeds etc etc. You initially get 500mb of free space, 2GB of bandwidth per day and up to 5 million page views per month for free. After which you need to start forking out the cash. From what I gathered after using your free allowances, the service won’t be charged on a pay as you go service as with Amazon, but you will have to buy ‘blocks’ of extra dish space, bandwidth etc etc. Personally I think I prefer the pay as you go method, but I haven’t done any calculations to see which would be cheaper so I could easily be wrong.

Unfortunately, the only language currently supported on the Google App Engine is Python. They mentioned yesterday that they are committed to adding more language runtimes to the system, but seeing as Python is one of Google’s 3 main languages, it was their obvious first choice. Sites and apps can only be pure Python as well, so no using plug ins/extensions which depend on C++ etc.

Google App engine is obviously still very mature so it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to the other cloud services currently on offer but so far, I think Amazon’s EC2 service is still on top. I won’t go into why here 🙂

I was very impressed by the Google Web Toolkit (GWT). The general idea is that you write your Java application in your normal IDE, run the GWT compiler against your Java code and it compiles your normal Java code into JavaScript and HTML files that can be run in any browser. Obviously this is pretty powerful. The example that we got shown was a full GUI application written in Java for viewing or creating complex diagrams. It seemed to run perfectly in the browser, looking just like it would on the desktop. All current popular browsers are automatically supported and the compiler also optimises and obfuscates the generated JavaScript and HTML code. What more could you ask for? The only problem is I don’t currently know Java and I don’t believe my company has any intentions of using Java for anything soon 😛 But an impressive product none the less.

Throughout the day there were free refreshments and snacks and we were provided with a free (mostly) healthy lunch. At the end of the day they showed a video summarising the day’s events and then there were drinks and food after which I wasn’t able to stay for 😦 My colleague stayed on for a while and told me they had a Wii being played on the huge presentation screens with Guitar Hero, among other things such as retro Atari arcade consoles. It’s a shame I didn’t stay, I’d have been able to say I beat some Google guys at Guitar Hero! Woop 🙂

The day was a good experience and I’d go again, although some sessions did seem quite long and the seats weren’t exactly comfortable, but a small price to pay for an event like this 🙂

Oh yeah, I didn’t take any photos except for a few of the Wembley pitch (by going through a door I don’t think we were allowed to go through) because I was told I wasn’t allowed. Then we saw lots of other people taking pictures :S Ah well…

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