Tuesday, 31 October 2006
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Google data APIs: Now with PHP

Per an announcement today at Zend Conference 2006, GData support is now available in the Zend Framework:
The Google Data APIs provide a simple standard protocol for reading and writing data on the web. With the Google data APIs, developers can mash up services like Google Base, Calendar, Blogger, and CodeSearch.

Zend Google Data Client Library provides a PHP 5 component to execute queries and commands against Google Data APIs from your PHP applications.
Check it out and let us know what you think!

Monday, 30 October 2006
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FLOSS Usability Sprint

Last weekend, Google hosted the third FLOSS Usability Sprint, an event designed to bring together User Experience professionals and open source developers to collaborate and improve OS projects.  The two facilitators, Allen "Gunner" Gunn and Eugene Eric Kim, quickly made all the participants feel welcomed and engaged.  Allen and Eugene then paired developers with the UX practitioners in attendance and we were off and running, pausing only for reports back to the group on our progress and, of course, lunch!

The team from SocialtextOpen found that their new, simplified interface left their more advanced users feeling information withdrawl.  They spent their weekend concentrating on building a user interface for their immersive wiki users while simultaneously putting the finishing touches on their next product release.  Another team worked on enhancing the usability of HyperScope, a project laying the groundwork for Douglas Engelbart's vision of an Open Hyperdocument System.  The Social Source Commons group focused on removing extraneous elements from their website to make the site more navigable and useful for those doing IT support for non-profits.  The Sustainable Civil Society project, a wiki-like project to create a map of organizations devoted to sustainability, wowed us with an excercise in creating affinity diagrams and left the sprint under a new moniker, Wiser Earth. 

I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend with four developers from the Drupal project, reviewing the results of their user survey and creating the framework for a report on improving usability in Drupal.  The report will be published to the entire Drupal community, and in the interim Kieran Lal of CivicSpace has posted a write up of our activities this weekend.  Thanks to Kieran, Neil Drumm, Matt Cheney and Zack Rosen for the deeper introduction to the wonderful world of Drupal.

Eugene has posted a Sprint write up and you can also check out a group photo of all the particpants wearing our best scary Hallowe'en faces.

Last but not least, the open source world needs UX experts!  If you're interested in helping, you can find more information on the FLOSS Usability project's site.

Thursday, 26 October 2006
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Google Summer of Code Students at the Sixth International Ruby Conference

RubyConf 2006 wrapped up this weekend with presentations from four of the GSoC students who worked with Ruby Central, Inc. this summer. Jason Morrison has posted the slides detailing his work on Type Inference for Ruby Development ToolsKevin Clark discussed his work on mkmf for Rake, and Jeffrey Hughes covered his port of Ruby to the Symbian OSGregory Brown has also posted the slides from his presentation on Ruport, reporting functionality within Ruby.

Congratulations to all of Ruby Central's GSoC mentors and students, and many thanks to Gregory for the report from RubyConf!

Wednesday, 25 October 2006
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Subversion Developer Summit

Last week Google hosted the first-ever summit for Subversion developers. It was quite a remarkable event - the Subversion project was founded over six years ago and most of the developers had never met in person! Thirty of us gathered at Google's headquarters in Mountain View for three days, where we talked about the future of SVN: how our merge-tracking feature is coming along, how to implement difficult new features like 'obliterate', a new repository design, and whether the next generation of Subversion should have decentralized features. You can ogle various notes and photos on our shared blog.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006
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Chicagoist Interview with the Google/Chicago Engineers

In case you're curious about some of the folks behind Google Summer of Code and project hosting, Chicagoist just posted an entertaining interview with our three Chicago-based engineers; here's a snippet:
Chicagoist: We had no idea that Google had a Chicago office. What does this part of the Google empire do out here in the Midwest?

Brian Fitzpatrick: You are in good company because most of the world and Google has no idea that there's a Chicago office. This office is mostly salespeople who sell Google ads to Fortune 1000 companies. The three of us are just an engineering enclave off in the corner.

Jon Trowbridge: We're the guys who didn't want to move to California, basically.

Ben Collins-Sussman: Because of the team we're on, they're tolerant of us working here. It's not a general thing that happens with Google. Usually when you get hired, you're expected to move to an engineering office. The big offices are in California or New York.

(photo credit: David Reid)

Monday, 23 October 2006
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Announcing OpenVis3d

Post by Luc Vincent, Uber Tech Lead

While he was working on his PhD at the University of Maryland, Abhijit Ogale developed a set of advanced computer vision tools in Matlab. He made this set of tools available for download from the UMD web site, and quickly noticed that his site was getting quite a bit of traffic. In fact, earlier this year the software was getting downloaded about 1,000 times per month. Not bad for a fairly esoteric piece of software...

Today, we are very pleased to announce that thanks to a grant from Google, Abhijit has turned this useful Matlab code into an even more useful open source, state-of-the-art 3D vision library, OpenVis3d, hosted on Google Code. The overall goal of the project is to provide a library of efficient 3D computer vision routines for image and video processing. This library will eventually include routines for dense stereo matching, optical flow (motion) estimation, occlusion detection, egomotion (3D self-motion) estimation, structure from motion, and a lot more -- we hope you find it useful!

By the way, in case it isn't obvious, Google is very interested in computer vision and graphics. We recently attended Siggraph'06 in Boston, where we demonstrated the latest and greatest versions of Google Earth and SketchUp. But we're doing a lot more than that - we're also hiring talented computer vision and graphics people -- see this page for more information. In fact, Abhijit Ogale recently joined Google!

Friday, 20 October 2006
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New open source project: Open Automation Framework

Post by Allen Hutchison, Engineering Manager

One of my favorite things about working for Google is that I get to do cool things as a member of the testing team. Last year I gave a talk at StarWest about building open source automation testing frameworks, during which I showed some code snippets that people could use in their own testing. As I developed the talk I found that I was also developing a tool other people might find useful, so I polished it a little, got comments on it from some people, tried it out on a few projects, and today released it as the Open Automation Framework (or OAF as I like to call it).

This was a 20% project for me at Google, and I really enjoyed putting it together. I hope that people in the testing community find this code useful, and I'm anxious to hear your comments. OAF is hosted at Google Code.

Thursday, 19 October 2006
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Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit

Last Saturday, one hundred mentors and administrators for organizations who successfully completed GSoC visited Google's Mountain View Headquarters for the first Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit. Structured as an unconference, the summit provided the attendees from disparate projects the opportunity to meet, network and find common ground in the pursuit of making the program and open source development even more successful.

While the attendee-led session topics were as diverse as the attendees themselves, there was a primary focus on attracting and retaining the best student developers through GSoC. We were also fortunate enough to have three former GSoC students present to the audience about the program from the student's perspective.

Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman, both software engineers on Google's Open Source Team, offered their views on building effective project communities in their popular Poisonous People Talk. One of our attendees organized an all day session focused purely on brainstorming and open discussion, with spectacular results.

Thanks to all our guests for helping us create such an inspiring environment at the summit, and for their valuable feedback in helping us improve Google Summer of Code.

(Photo Credit: David Anderson)

Wednesday, 18 October 2006
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Google Gadgets News

Post by Adam Sah, Google Gadgets team

Google properties (such as Google Personalized Homepage, Google Desktop, etc.) used to be the only places you could add Google Gadgets, but not anymore! You can now easily add gadgets to your own site for free by browsing the directory of gadgets for your web page, selecting a gadget, and copying/pasting a small snippet of auto-generated HTML. For developers, this means significantly increased gadget distribution across the web, forums and blogs.

The v1.0 launch is a work-in-progress with bug fixes lined up and ready to go -- gadget settings page fixes shipped last week, and our engineers are working feverishly to fix CSS-related rendering glitches. Extending support for sites that are blocking IFrame and Script tags may take some time, but it's definitely on our todo list.

Google Gadgets for the whole web has a few limitations, which gadget authors should be aware of when writing gadgets for third-party webpages. To ensure that your gadget will support distribution across the web, take note of these important facts:
  • Make sure your gadget supports 200-pixel content widths for placement on third-party web pages. While Google Personalized Homepage gadgets have an average width of 250 pixels, assume third-party web pages will have even smaller widths. Otherwise, you may start receiving complaint emails about annoying horizontal scroll bars.
  • You cannot store data or state for gadgets embedded on third-party web pages. If your gadget contains code to do so, it will silently fail.
  • Inlined gadgets cannot be added to third-party web pages, and will not appear in our directory of gadgets for your webpage.
  • Since inlined gadgets are not supported, embedded gadgets cannot modify third-party webpages for obvious reasons.
To get started creating your own gadgets for distribution across the web, check out the Google Gadgets API overview; webmasters, bloggers and forum users can check out Google Gadgets for your webpage to add gadgets to their sites.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006
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Google Summer of Code Update: Plone Foundation

Martin Aspeli, mentor and organization administrator for the Plone Foundation, has posted a summary of Plone's experiences with GSoC 2006.

In addition to the update on their students' projects, Martin has included an extensive section on "lessons learned" this summer - great reading for would-be Google Summer of Code participants.

Congratulations to the mentors and students for the Plone Foundation!

Tuesday, 10 October 2006
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Google Code Search and Security

Post by Tom Stocky, Product Manager

Since Google Code Search launched a few days ago, we've received a lot of great feedback, including some about the dangers of exposing security flaws. Our goal with Code Search is to provide a useful resource for developers and help increase collaboration within the developer community. Unfortunately, tools that ease access to information for good can sometimes do so for bad... but it's our strong belief that the positive impact outweighs the negative, a belief thankfully shared by many of you.

We hope that Code Search will be used as a tool for solving security issues and helping people prevent exploits, since security through obscurity isn't really secure. In cases where we can help prevent certain malicious behavior, we'll do our best to do that. We're working on some changes already and we're very open to suggestions -- let us know if you have ideas.

Also, for those of you who want to keep your code from being crawled, please check out the FAQ that explains how to do that with a robots.txt file either on your website, the archive file or repository itself.

Thursday, 5 October 2006
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Search the world's public source code

Post by Russ Cox, Engineering Intern

Google Code Search is now live -- it gives programmers a single place to search publicly accessible source code. It includes:Code Search crawls and indexes publicly hosted archives (.tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .tar, and .zip) and CVS and Subversion repositories, making them searchable in one place. Results are also accessible via a GData feed, which we hope people will use to create plugins for their favorite editors and IDEs.

The inspiration for Code Search came from a tool we built to quickly search the internal Google code base. This internal search service was used so much that it became clear we should build something for other programmers to use as well -- making that happen became my project when I joined as an Engineering Intern. The team has since gotten a bit bigger, and it's been an incredible experience to be able to lead the engineering efforts, especially as an intern. Check out Code Search and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, 3 October 2006
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Google AJAX Search API beta Version 1.0 Available

Per an announcement at the AJAXWorld Conference, Version 1.0 of the AJAX Search API is now available. The new release includes Google News results and more geos for Google Maps results -- read more in the Google AJAX Search API Blog.