Is you missed Part I, you should read it to learn about the other sessions.
Once this session is posted on YouTube, it is a definite “must see” for any techie simply for its academic content.
Session 4 – Google Visualization API
This session was good in terms of technical content. This is one of the few Google technologies that Microsoft currently has no comparative answer to. I expect to see some news in this area closer to PDC later this month. There are Microsoft partners who have similar technology. Essentially the visualization API allows easily embeddable charts and graphs to be generated from spreadsheets sitting in Google Docs. It is undergoing heavy development as well. This feature is important for the entire web and Software + Services model when it comes to office productivity, so Microsoft is taking serious steps to fill the feature gaps. The key take away from this session was that although the visualizations look good and are useful, they are really no better than static images on a website because Google has made the error of not allowing the graphs, charts, and tables to be searchable. Because they are not searchable or exposed via XML-like formats such as Silverlight, accessibility is really seen as an afterthought. It was clear upon asking about accessibility that this issue was not even on their radar.
There are very few people in the industry that are as serious about accessibility as Microsoft with the only real contender in the OS space being Apple. Google has a lot of growing up to do here. At present there is one web player who does this better than anyone. iCharts was featured at the TechCrunch50 and based on their presentation, they have tackled many of the shortcomings that Google has in the Visualization API. Expect to see more in this space when Office 14 information starts to trickle out to the public
Google Developer Day was a fun and interesting event but it was clear that Google is limiting all of their talent to focus on the web. Some may think the web is the future, and in a lot of ways it is, but there is still a lot of innovation and core technology research that still goes on to push the capabilities of the platform, regardless of what that platform may be. If you’re a web application developer, I encourage you to compare the work that Google does in the space and the work Microsoft is doing. You may be pleasantly surprised. Check out Mix08 sessions (Silverlight recommended)!