Monday, 31 August 2009
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A well earned retirement for the SOAP Search API

There’s a time for everything in life: a time for playing, learning & growing up; a time for maturing, working & performing, and a time for retiring, relaxing & handing the reigns over to the next generation. This is true for products too, and this is why, six months ago, we announced our Labs program for Google Code. This program provides clear distinction between graduate developer products where you’ll find mature products with transparent deprecation policies which you can count on for the long run, and labs developer products where you can explore our newest products and get started with them early.

As we also said in that announcement, the time has come for the SOAP Search API to retire – the new generation is around, has graduated, and has largely taken over already as a better and more versatile solution for the vast majority of use cases. In the spirit of our deprecation policies, we’ve continued to support the SOAP Search API since its deprecation in 2006, but we wanted to remind you that it is finally sunsetting. That had been planned for today, but we thought we'd give the few of you still using it another week to be prepared, so we'll be shutting it down on September 7th instead.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009
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Final Results for our Fifth Google Summer of Code

We've just finished collecting final evaluations for our fifth Google Summer of Code, our flagship program to introduce college and university students to Open Source development practices. With nearly 3,000 mentor and student participants this year alone, this global initiative has brought together thousands of developers worldwide for the past five years, all for the love of code. For more details about the final results of Google Summer of Code 2009 and information on when to find the source code produced by this year's crop of students, check out the Google Open Source Blog.

Monday, 24 August 2009
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Get Your SVG On: The SVG Open 2009 Conference At Google

At Google we're excited about Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). SVG is an open, browser-based standard that makes it easy to create interactive web graphics with new HTML-like tags such as the CIRCLE tag. We like it because it's part of the HTML 5 family of technologies while being search engine friendly; easy for JavaScript and HTML developers to adopt; exportable from your favorite drawing tools like Adobe IllustratorTM; and straightforward to emit from server-side systems like PHP and Google App Engine. It's also available in all modern browsers.

As part of our commitment to the Open Web and SVG we are helping to host the SVG Open 2009 conference this fall at our Mountain View campus. The theme this year is SVG Coming of Age. It will be held at the Google Crittenden Campus in Mountain View, California on October 2nd through 4th 2009, with additional workshops on October 5.

Co-sponsored by W3C, the SVG Open conference series is the premier forum for SVG designers, developers, and implementors to share ideas, experiences, products, and strategies. Over 60 presentations will be delivered by SVG experts from all over the world, tackling topics such as design workflows, mobile SVG, Web application development, Web mapping, geo-location based services, and much more.

Two panel discussions will allow the audience to discuss ideas and issues with the W3C SVG Working Group and implementors. Many W3C Members will be participating, including Google, IBM, Mozilla, Opera, Oracle, Quickoffice and Vodafone. The conference schedule and confirmed keynote speakers are now available.

The deadline for early-bird registration is August 31st, so get your registrations in soon! Full-price registration will remain available until October 1, and limited on-site registration may also be available at the registration desk during the conference. The W3C SVG Working Group and W3C's Chris Lilley and Doug Schepers will participate.

A wide range of exciting talks are on the docket. Here's a small sample:

* Ajax Toolkits supporting SVG graphics: Raphaël, dojo, Ample SDK, SVG
Web Project, JSXGraph
* SVG in Internet Explorer and at Google
* Beyond XHTML
* Progress in Opera and Mozilla
* Using Canvas with SVG
* Progress in Inkscape
* Implementors and Panel Sessions
* SVG and OpenStreetmap
* SVG in Wikipedia/Wikimedia
* SVG and ODF
* SVG for Scientific Visualization
* SVG for Webmapping
* SVG for Games
* SVG for Mobile Applications
* SVG Wow - demonstrations of great SVG demos

See you there!

Thursday, 20 August 2009
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GTUG Campout - 3 Day Hackstravaganza

The Silicon Valley Google Technology User Group (GTUG) held the first GTUG Campout, a 46 hour hackathon, over the weekend of August 7-9. Nearly 200 developers, designers, and business people came to build working applications using Google Technology, focusing largely on the Google Wave API.

The event was intense, spanning 3 days. In that time, attendees had to pitch ideas, form teams, and code like heck to have a working prototype to demo by Sunday evening.

Friday evening, we had over 50 pitches. Afterwards, people had a chance to mingle and find teams that they wanted to work with. Groups whiteboarded and discussed their ideas, then started working hard. Over 30 coders were still working past 2:00 am Saturday morning.

Sunday night we had 32 presentations of working applications followed by wooden nickel style voting to determine the winner. The crowd chose Videowave, a Wave gadget that allows synchronized viewing of videos from YouTube. They were awarded 1 pass to Google I/O '10, 2 G1 phones, and lunch with members of the Wave team.

Screenshot of Videowave in action

The list of winners:
  • 1st place: Videowave, by Solomon Wu, Aaron Tong, Nelson To. (their blog)
  • 2nd place: H3LP, by Jen McCabe, Steve Okay, Stig Hackvan, Andrey Petrov
    • Android app and mobile web app for emergency medical situations. If launched, app locates you and notify authorities and emergency contacts.
    • Mobile web vers:
  • 3rd place (3 way tie)
    • PoppyWave, by Hitesh Parashar, Van Riper, Kewaljit, David Elliston, Dave Lyman, Prathap Nimal, Dave Neubaur, Toby Morning, Perrine Crampton
      • Wave-Email Gateway that lets non-Wave users to participate in Wave.
      • Robot:
    • BeerTime Bot, by Jason Katzer, Aaditiya Bhatia, Joe Mulvaney
      • Measures hostility level in a Wave. If too high, hijacks thread and geolocates participants and suggests nearby drinking establishment. Robot and gadget components.
      • Robot:, Gadget XML
      • Open sourced code: beertime, meetuptime
    • Cutebox, by Audrey Roy
Congratulations to all the winners and other attendees who worked so hard! Thanks also to the Googlers who helped out and answered questions, and our volunteers, especially those that helped with videos and photos.

A fun slideshow of the event:

The Silicon Valley Google Technology User Group is one of the first GTUGs around the world. Today around 70 GTUGs exist worldwide. Information about starting a GTUG in your area can be found at The first GTUG Campout was a great success and we are looking forward to doing the event next year, and hope other GTUGs will host GTUG Campouts in their neighborhoods.

Update: Video and some images courtesy of Shirley Lin of WooMeOver.

The Fall Collection on Google Code University

Back-to-School usually means preparing new courses and topics. Educators as well as students are looking for exciting and fresh content. We are happy to announce that we are able to share some new additions to Google Code University's repository of CS course materials just in time for the fall semester. As always, all of these course materials are Creative Commons licensed and can be reused and adapted to curricula at universities everywhere:
Please also check out our CS Resources page for updates on useful training materials.

But that's not all! We want to encourage educators to contribute their great content to Google Code University. By implementing a submission form we hope to make the process easy and convenient. Just follow the big blue button on the homepage and tell us about your materials. We look forward to hearing from you!

Aza Raskin: Conversational Computing (Ubiquity & Jetpack)

Aza Raskin delivered the eighth Web Exponents tech talk at Google last week. Aza is head of user experience at Mozilla Labs. He's an entrepreneur and Renaissance man, as evidenced by the breadth of topics in his presentation.

What I like about Aza is that he's a user advocate - sharing our frustrations over the complexities and hurdles of interacting with computers. It's not that applications lack functionality. Aza points out that "90% of the feature requests for features in [Microsoft] Word are in fact for features that are already in Word." The problem is that humans can't interact with, speak with, computer applications using a familiar language.

Ubiquity is one of the projects from Mozilla Labs that bridges this digital divide. Ubiquity is a Firefox add-on that allows users to complete tasks using a more intuitive language. One example Aza shows is highlighting part of a web page and typing "translate this to Russian". Ubiquity acts on the user's request by replacing the text in the web page with the Russian translation. Another example is typing an address in a Yahoo! Mail message, typing "map this", and having Ubiquity embed the desired Google map inside the email.

Aza calls this you-centric computing - allowing us to interact by talking about what we want to do, rather than forcing us to think about how to do it. Ubiquity achieves this, moving us from a web of nouns to a web of verbs. The point, according to Aza, is "perhaps by adding language, by making things hackable, we go from interfaces which work to our failabilities and our frailities, and instead are a little bit more human and hence a little bit more humane."

Jetpack extends Ubiquity's theme of making the Web hackable. Aza describes it as "an incredibly fast prototyping environment for changing the Web to make the Web yours. Sort of like taking the idea of Greasemonkey and mashing it up with extensions and giving it all steroids." Ubiquity and Jetpack allow each of us to make the Web our very own by modifying it to work the way we want.

Empowering users to customize the Web and more easily complete tasks moves us from a feeling of helplessness to a feeling of being in control. This is an important point and reminds me of Matt Mullenweg's talk at Velocity about slow web sites (my personal bent). There Matt says, "...when an interface is faster, you feel good. And ultimately what that comes down to is you feel in control." Empowering users is a common goal, and yet today's web applications still contain many hurdles (complexity, poor interaction language, slowness) that need to be addressed to make users feel in control and ultimately happy. Thanks to Aza and the folks at Mozilla Labs, we're moving closer to the you-centric Web each of us wants.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009
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Towards a programmable web: PubSubHubbub for Google Alerts

Why shouldn't the web itself be programmable? A programmable web enables one application to be extended by another to create new applications that people haven't imagined before. This goes beyond mash-ups, which primarily combine data sources together into new views. A programmable web is reactive and relies on Web Hooks for event-driven notification, syncing, chaining, modification, and extension.

One simple example of programming the web itself is the post commit-hook on Project Hosting, which lets developers call their own web service every time someone commits to their repository. An advanced example is the Wave Robots API, which gives developers the power to enhance and modify the behavior of Wave in new ways that no-one has envisioned. The magic of this programmable approach is that these services come to *your* webapp whenever something requires attention; there's no need to poll for events or data that you're interested in.

In keeping with this goal of programmability, over the past few weeks we've enabled the PubSubHubbub protocol for many Google services, including FeedBurner, Reader shared items, and Blogger. This protocol provides web-hook notifications when Atom and RSS feeds are updated, delivering web applications near-real-time information about what's new or changed.

Today we're happy to announce that we have gone a step further and added PubSubHubbub support to Google Alerts. This gives developers the means to write web applications that process newly relevant search results as they become available. Think of it as an AJAX search API that tells *you* when it finds new results. Acting upon these notifications your app could update your website, email friends, send an SMS-- the possibilities are endless.

Like the huge number of Maps mash-ups out there, we hope to see a whole new class of applications built on top of these notifications. So give the protocol a try and tell us what you've built in our Google Group!

Monday, 17 August 2009
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Google Developer Days 2009: New Locations!

After a successful set of Google Developer Days in Asia and Brazil this past June, Google Developer Days 2009, a set of one-day developer events, are returning to Eastern Europe and Russia this fall.

We'll host Google Developer Day in these locations:
  • Prague, Czech Republic -- November 6
  • Moscow, Russia -- November 10
At Google Developer Day, attendees learn about Google developer products from the engineering teams who built them. These events are an opportunity for developers with strong coding experience to delve deeper into our APIs, developer tools and applications. There is also plenty of time to interact among the developer community and with Googlers themselves at "office hours," during which developers can bring their own snippets of code or specific product questions to the Google engineers behind the product.

Save the dates as the official websites and registration for both events will be available soon. Hope to see you there.

Friday, 14 August 2009
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Google Code Jam Returns!

Given a 49x49 grid of numbers, can you place mines in the cells in such a way that each number represents the number of mines in its 3x3 sub-grid (the cell itself and its 8 immediate neighbors)? Find the maximum number of mines that could end up in the middle row of the grid.

Intrigued? Think you can solve it with a clever algorithm? Here at Google, we know how thrilling it can be to encounter a challenge and then overcome it by coding up a creative solution. Since 2003, we've been privileged to share that experience with a global community of computer programmers through our annual programming competition, Google Code Jam.

We're excited to announce Google Code Jam 2009, powered by Google App Engine. Join the fun and compete in several 2½-hour online rounds, attacking three to four difficult algorithmic problems during each round. You may use your favorite programming languages and tools to code up a solution. When ready, run your solution against our fiendish test data. The algorithm needs to be right, and it needs to be efficient: when N=10000, O(N3) won't cut it!

If you're up to the challenge, visit the Google Code Jam site to register and read the rules. Most importantly, you can practice on the problems from last year's contest, so you are in shape when the qualification round starts on September 2. You could be one of the top 25 competitors who will be flown to our Mountain View headquarters to match wits for the $5,000 first prize, and the title of Code Jam champion!

P.S. Think you can solve our "Mine Layer" problem? Try it out on the Code Jam website!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009
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iGoogle adds support for OpenSocial

Developers using the OpenSocial API can now reach tens of millions of iGoogle users! As of this week, iGoogle now supports OpenSocial in both the US and Australia, with the plan to roll it out to more users soon. In general, we think "social is better" when it comes to the web - activities such as reading the news, doing a crossword puzzle, sharing a todo list, or watching a video are all better when done with a friend. These are all things that iGoogle users love to do, so making them social on iGoogle was the next logical next step.

If you're interested in getting started writing social gadgets for iGoogle, check out the full announcement on the iGoogle developer blog.