Notes from Google Developer Day 2010 in Munich

First of all, kudos to google for the flawless organization of a huge (1100 attendees), free event. It was great to have so many key people straight from the source in one place.

Here are my random notes of the event:

Opening keynote

Eric Tholomé: 2004 is the dividing line – Skype was the last app that mattered that was desktop- rather than web-based.

All the google presentations were very polished – in striking contrast to the crowded slides of TU München university.

Some impressive HTML5 demos (especially Canvas3D rendering) by Jochen Eisinger and Bernhard Bauer, software engineers with google Munich. New in Html5: device orientation – so you can query the position sensor of a smartphone. Nicely shown by video breaking up into falling tiles on a tilted mobile device.

Google App Engine hit 130000 applications, with over 5 billion pageviews per week.

Nice presentation idea: fullscreen image of wine and cheese as illustration for “2 good things that are even better together” (here, the topic was Google’s app engine and VMWare’s Spring Roo)

Spring Roo: Looks interesting, like somebody in the JEE world has Rails generator/rake envy.

Google’s internal motto: “Put mobile first”. Number of Android apps grew from 20k to 100k since February. Android is moving fast – there’s a whole presentation about changes and improvements in Android since the I/O conference, which was 4 whole months ago.

Nice debugging tool in Android: If your app crashes on any Android anywhere, you get to see the stracktrace.

API overview

Relevant talk from Google I/O: “How Google builds APIs”.

Coolness chart: SOAP -> REST -> REST with JSON

New: API console: monitor usage in your project, try out REST APIs, see usage vs. limits, get traffic reports

Google data protocol:new AtomPub-based standard for REST-like APIs in json

(Side note: Finally a conference that provides plenty of power outlets at the seats of the audience)

Google apps script: server-side javascript for accessing google APIs, does for google web apps what VBA did for Office

New in google maps: Static Maps: rather than populating a map with flags, which is slow for 500+ flags, prepare a map that is static, to ben included as a simple image tag -> “Programming knowledge from your community college course will serve you well here”.

Cool: Fusion tables: Upload geo data, analyze it, and visualize it on google maps layers

Geocoding API: Didn’t know about that one, allows you to enter an address, and get the latitude/longitude back. Basically a byproduct of what google maps does anyway, but might come in very useful when building geo apps on top of HTML5 geolocation.

Custom Search API: define your own search engine on top of google search, e.g. only search my own site or wikipedia, define synonyms (user searches for “mobile” -> also include results for “android”), boost results from certain sites etc. Looks cool, I might have to play with that.

Translate can also transliterate from one alphabet into another, how cool is that? And can even show virtual keyboards for all kinds of alphabet. E.g. when you’re targeting users from Russia, you can show them a Russian on-screen keyboard, so they can use keys for Russian characters even if they’re logged in from an internet cafe in Spain. I’m currently working on a web-based vocabulary trainer, this might save me a ton of work.

(Sidenote: one of the guys doing the API presentation just happens to run, wow)

Social: Allows people to login to your site using their google account.

Charts: pass data as simple url params, get back a chart as url for an image tag, very simple.

Finally: news on -> how come I did not yet have this in my RSS feeds?

Android UI

Firefox Pencil: free UI prototyping tool as firefox extension, google provides stencils for Android widgets for it. Cool, I was looking for something like that, but so far too cheap to shell out for Balsamiq mockups.

Google also provides an icon designer/ asset studio to allow non-designers to create icons: type some text, add borders,shadows, etc , and get back images in various resolutions. Seems very easy, very fast, and provides decent-looking graphics.

Reasons why Android supports trackballs: Allow users to operate their phones when wearing gloves (hmm…), and make it easy for people who are switching from non-touchscreen phones like Blackberries. My take on that: Where Apple creates a whole new world of completely new and different smartphone, Android wants to be a “smarter Dumbphone”.

App Engine for business

New features targeted at enterprise users: An SLA (three nines, i.e. 99.9%), paid support ($1000/month for developer support, with a guaranteed response time of 1 hour for operations support, and 8 hours for development issues), management console to administer policies, hosted SQL databases (I could not help a slightly condescending tone when talking about how some people might not want to use google’s fancy scalable NoSQL storage).

Will run not only Python and Java, but also any JVM-based language, including frameworks like Grails or Django.

Businesses will be able to setup their own domains for GAE-hosted apps, with users of GAE apps restricted to that Apps for business domain

Pricing will be $8 per user and month, capped at $1000 per app ( so I guess they don’t really expect much uptake amongst businesses that might have more than 125 users), instead of the pageview/CPU hours based pricing for non-business GAE. Apparently business customers were not comfortable dealing with prices measured in pageviews and CPU hours (but if you’re in charge of buying infrastructure, shouldn’t you be??)

New: allows IT service providers to have their devlopers certified for developing GAE applications, to make it easier for enterprises to select partners to develop apps on GAE for them.


Sadly, I was still fighting a flu on the day of the event, so I had to call it a day after that, and missed other talks about e.g. BigData, predictions API and chrome developer tools. (Anybody knows if there is a site with videos of the talks, like there was for Google I/O?). I will definitely be back at next year’s Google developer day.




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