A Day at Google Developer Days London – App Engine and Gears – Part 1

Continue on to Part 2 if you want to read about the Visualization API and Chrome V8

Going to Google Developer Days was exciting simply because I knew of the eagerness of web developers to use new Software+Serveices technologies. It definitely had a warm and welcoming ambience free from sponsorship material or advertisements. Through and through, it was a Google event. Because it was strictly a Google event, they have no-one to blame but themselves for several key failings at the event, namely in the areas of technical content, speaker quality, and inspiration.

The keynote was short and heavy on demo showcases emphasizing the ease of use to implement new Google technologies like Open Social, GWT, and App Engine. The speakers doing the keynote were engaging, entertaining and didn’t use marketing fluff to discuss the technology. There were a lot of interesting things mentioned in the keynote; however it was evident that many technical elements were going to be left out completely, not just from the keynote but from the break-out sessions as well.

Session 1 – App Engine

This session was a huge waste of time in that it gave developers very little to go off of in terms of practical knowledge. The speaker, a Google Developer Advocate, was essentially rehashing technical marketing points about the product and reading back code samples and documentation. There was no new information regarding SLAs, technical enhancements, additional programming language support, or key partners betting on the technology. Additionally, while going over some finer points around the technology, he was not able to detail why certain engineering decisions had been made leaving the audience feeling that they must jump through hoops to actually use the technology practically.

The most interesting part of the session was the architecture behind BigTable, Google’s non-relational database, and object sizes beyond 1MB. Comments from the audience included how Google expects to allow developers to get anything done without Binary Large Object (BLOB) support or lack of built-in counter/increment in the database. Very little commitment was given to address these serious failings other than the generic response of “we’re working on additional features.” No roadmap or timeline was given. Finally on a personal note, it was interesting to compare the behaviour of a Developer Advocate to a Microsoft Developer Evangelist. To put it succinctly, one is a badly trained monkey, the other is an honest broker of information and analysis. The speaker was more concerned about being recorded and letting information slip, looking at the camera on a few occasions and essentially repeating, “I am not revealing any internal details…”

Session 2 – Google Gears

This session was very informative and well presented, however; it finished 35 minutes early which, to me, was unacceptable. If a Microsoft speaker did this, he was be chastised in the feedback. Immediately one could tell that he was a Google engineer and not an “advocate,” showing a clear understanding of the architecture, goals, and development methods to use Gears. Some key insight stated was the fact that Gears is a core technology essentially abstracting the host OS and being a baseline for a managed “Google OS.” Because gears natively communicates with the host OS, developers simply use the APIs to access the file system and IO. An interesting discussion was around the security model and how Gears restricts file system access to a specific sandboxed area which seemed like an adequate response.  I think the community as a whole would still benefit around the security model that Gears employs to communicate with the host OS.  Finally, the speaker discussed Google’s collaboration with standards bodies to get Gears like functionality in the next wave of browsers. He stated that Google’s goal is to heavily drive HTML 5 draft adoption which currently is hotly contested.

It should be said that I like Gears a lot.  I like what Google is trying to do with it because the Browser is something that is comfortable with most users.  I don’t think that Gears is the future.  It will always require an host OS like Windows, OS X or Linux at least for the foreseeable future.  The vision of creating a seamless offline experience is something that everyone recognizes.  Microsoft has invested heavily in sync capabilities like the Microsoft Sync Framework, Live Mesh, and the upcoming .NET 4.0 Framework.  With enhancements around REST in the .NET stack, you will start to see a lot more engaging web apps being developed using .NET.  Google seems to want everyone to use JavaScript or Python.  I say ewww to JavaScript.  They make up for that by choosing Python *yay*.

My Twitter Feed (bottom up)

· google developer day is done! learned a lot my good friends from Oxford Geek Night and got insight on why devs hate IT 09:52 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· @twitter @scobleizer twitter needs a squelch command with a builtin timer for noisy users 09:17 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web in reply to twitter


· @scobleizer other people are using twitter too, fyi 🙂 stop the noise 09:16 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web in reply to Scobleizer


· google chrome V8 Javascript session was very insightful and well presented. 09:14 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· google visualization API is really cool 07:06 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· general consensus is that Google Developer Days is weak on content quality. Nothing really inspirational, not even the sandwiches 06:44 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· according to Google, Chrome is a way to get other browsers to support HTML 5 features. 05:53 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· had an interesting chat with 8 devs from Time Warner. IT is blocking progress and forcing IE6 support. they dont even have admin control 04:55 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· Google Gears presentation is very good 04:54 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· Google Developer Advocates are really lock down and scared of saying stuff in front of the camera 04:10 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· Microsoft Developer Evangelist > Google Developer Advocate ...strictly from a knowledge level 04:09 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· google app engine has no SLA...but the interesting is that they have no clue what it should be. how about 4 9's ? this speaker sucks 03:40 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· google had a short and sweet keynote...not alot of meat though. 03:06 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· waiting in line at registration of google dev days 01:42 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web


· off to google developer days wearing my IE8 hat 01:02 AM September 16, 2008 from mobile web
Comments (2)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is you missed Part I , you should read it to learn about the other sessions. Session 3 – V8 Javascript

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is you missed Part I , you should read it to learn about the other sessions. Session 3 – V8 Javascript

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