Friday, 23 December 2011
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Fridaygram: goodbye to 2011

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By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor

This is the last Fridaygram of 2011, and like most everybody else, we’re in a reflective mood. It’s also the 208th post on Google Code Blog this year, which means we’ve averaged more than one post every two days, so that’s plenty of stuff for you to read. What did we write about?

At Google, we love to launch. Many of our posts were about new APIs and client libraries. We also posted a bunch of times about HTML5 and Chrome and about making the web faster. And we posted about Android, Google+, and Google Apps developer news.

Many of our 2011 posts were about the steady progress of App Engine, Cloud Storage, and other cloud topics for developers. We also published several times about commerce and in-app payments.

2011 was a stellar year for Google I/O and other developer events around the world. Some of our most popular posts provided announcements, details, and recaps of these events. And we welcomed a couple dozen guest posts during Google I/O from developers with cool stories to tell.

The two most popular Code Blog posts of the year were both launches: the Dart preview in October, and the Swiffy launch in June.

Last, and surely least, I posted 26 Fridaygrams in an attempt to amuse and enlighten you. Thank you for reading those, and thanks for dropping by and reading all the posts we’ve thrown your way this year. See you in 2012!

And finally, please enjoy one more Easter egg.

Thursday, 22 December 2011
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Getting to know the Android Developer Challenge finalists

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By Chukwuemeka Afigbo, Program Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa

Cross-posted from the Google Africa Blog

Last month, the five finalists of the Android Developer Challenge came together to share their experiences with the world via Google+ Hangouts. 

Selected from a group of more than 200 submissions and 30 semi-finalists, the five finalists were Chike Maduegbuna, Bobola Oniwura and Tope Omotunde of AfriNolly (Nigeria); David Lemayian of Olalashe (Kenya); Gerald Kibugi of Shopper’s Delight (Kenya); Herko Lategan of Rainbow Racer (South Africa); and Richard Marsh of Wedding Plandroid (South Africa). 

The interview was hosted by CP Africa, a popular African blog and Gbenga Sesan, Nigerian tech evangelist, who conducted the interview while sitting in the departure lounge of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos as he waited to board his flight to Addis Ababa.

Thanks to the power of the internet and Google+, the interview was held simultaneously in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, in collaboration with three developer hubs: Umbono (Cape Town, South Africa), Co Creation Hub (Lagos, Nigeria) and iHub (Nairobi, Kenya). The finalists answered live questions and questions from people around the world including Ghana, Italy, Malaysia, Mali, Nigeria and Uganda using Google Moderator

The top-voted question was on how to prioritize features when building an application, while another participant wanted to know what kind of changes the finalists hoped to create in Africa with their applications. 

To learn more about the finalists for the Android Developer Challenge and their applications, please visit the new case studies section of the Google Africa Developers website. If you create solutions using Google services for developers (Google Apps, Chrome extensions, Android, App Engine, etc.) and want to share your story with the world, let us know!

Chukwuemeka Afigbo is a Program Manager in the Sub-Saharan Africa Outreach Team. He is an avid football (soccer) fan.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Google Prediction API: faster, easier to use, and more accurate

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By Marc Cohen, Developer Relations

This holiday season, the Google Prediction API Team is bringing you four presents and, thanks to the joys of cloud computing, no reindeer are required for delivery. Here’s what you’ve already received:
  • Faster on-ramp: We’ve made it easier to get started by enabling you to create an empty model (by sending a trainedmodels.insert request with no storageDataLocation specified) and add training data using the trainedmodels.update method. This change allows you to submit your model contents without needing to stage the data in Google Cloud Storage.
  • Improved updates: The algorithms used to implement model updates (adding additional data to existing models) have been modified to work faster than ever.
  • More classification algorithms: We’ve increased the number of classification algorithms used to build predictive models, resulting in across-the-board improvements in accuracy.
  • Integration with Google Apps Script: Prediction services are now available as part of Google Apps Script, which means you can integrate prediction services with Google Docs, Google Maps, Gmail, and other great Google products.
All of the above enhancements are supported by the current Prediction API version 1.4 so you can enjoy these features using the existing client libraries.

Happy Holidays from the Google Prediction API Team. We’re looking forward to bringing you more exciting features in 2012!

Marc Cohen is a member of Google’s Developer Relations Team in Seattle. When not teaching Python programming and listening to indie rock music, he enjoys using the Google Prediction API to peer into the future.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Tuesday, 20 December 2011
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Speed metrics in Google Analytics

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By Satish Kambala, Staff Software Engineer

At Google we believe that speed matters and a faster web is better for everyone. That’s why we started the Make The Web Faster initiative. To improve the speed of a website, we need to measure how fast web pages load. The Site Speed report, which is now available by default to all users of Google Analytics, provides just that: it enables website owners to measure page load time for their web pages.

You can use the Site Speed report to correlate speed with other metrics in Google Analytics, such as page views and conversions. This enables website owners to identify and optimize those pages that drive these metrics. Page load times can be analyzed by browser type or user location to understand if specific optimizations are required. Recently, we enhanced the Site Speed report by adding a new section called Technical (see screenshot below) which displays network and server time components of page load time.

site speed report screen shot

You can learn more about the Site Speed report here. This report, along with powerful page speed analysis tools such as Page Speed Online, will help website owners delight their users by building fast and responsive websites.

Have ideas on how to make your website faster or ways to speed up the entire Web? Send us your thoughts.

Satish Kambala works at Google on stuff that helps in making the web faster. In his free time, apart from watching cricket and movies, Satish likes exploring places with his wife.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Friday, 16 December 2011
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Fridaygram: universal terms, distant space, watch where you walk

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By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor

Earlier this week, we launched a single Terms of Service for most of our APIs. You might know the Terms of Service (ToS) as those legal documents you click through quickly when you start using a new product, but they’re vitally important, as they specify exactly what you and we can expect from each other when you use our APIs. (Internally, we refer to the new terms as uToS [universal terms of service], pronounced "you toss".)

The project began some time ago as a general developer ToS cleanup. At the time, we looked at the Google Terms of Service shared across many consumer products, and figured developers deserved equal consideration. In reviewing the developer ToS documents, it became clear that there was plenty of language in common among various products. And this week, the new Terms launched, covering most APIs, with more to come in time. Of the APIs that are included, a few have additional terms, but these tend to be brief. And things overall are much simpler and cleaner than before.

This project is an example of something that affects every Google developer and Google too, and yet it’s not really a technical topic. This ToS simplification was no minor project: it was over two years in the making. Getting to simplify an important set of documents by removing over 125,000 words of text is a wonderful thing.

Speaking of universal things, the incredible Voyager 1 spacecraft is now about 18 billion kilometers from the sun and is nearing the end of our solar system. Voyager now inhabits a part of space between planets and other stars that has an intense magnetic field, among other unusual properties, and we’ll learn more about the place from Voyager itself. One scientist says that Voyager is now in a "stagnation region", and I think we all know what that feels like.

And finally, if you’re planning your holiday vacation over the weekend, you might want to see what happens if you ask Google Maps for walking directions from Rivendell to Mordor.

Fridaygram posts are just for fun, and sometimes even legal stuff can be fun. Fridaygrams are designed for your Friday afternoon and weekend enjoyment. Each Fridaygram item must pass only one test: it has to be interesting to us nerds.

Introducing AdSense Management Services in Google Apps Script

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By Silvano Luciani, Developer Programs Engineer, AdSense API Team

Starting today, the AdSense Management API is available as part of AdSense Services in Google Apps Script. This means that you’ll be able to automate your AdSense reporting across Google products using a JavaScript cloud scripting language to do things like:
  • Create AdSense performance reports for your AdSense accounts in a Google spreadsheet.
  • Create a chart based on your AdSense reporting data and display it in a Google spreadsheet.
  • Embed your scripts in a Google Sites page, for instance to import a chart.
  • Use triggers to schedule the execution of your scripts, for instance to periodically update the chart imported in the Google Sites page.
spreadsheet with embedded chart

You can start using the service by checking out the reference documentation, which also contains some sample scripts, and by reading this tutorial, which implements the use cases mentioned above.

Based in London, Silvano Luciani joined Google in 2011 to make the AdSense API developers happier people. Before that, he has worked in Finland, Italy, Spain and the UK, writing web based configuration management tools for ISPs, social networks, web based training materials, e-commerce apps and more. He has recently discovered that he loves charts, and has finally started to play the drums in the London’s office music room. If you can call what he does "playing the drums".

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Thursday, 15 December 2011
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Mobile Web performance challenges and strategies

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By Ramki Krishnan, Technical Program Manager

Consumers are increasingly relying on their mobile devices to access the Web, thrusting mobile web performance into the limelight. Mobile users expect web pages to display on their mobile devices as fast as or faster than on their desktops.

As part of Google’s effort to Make The Web Faster, we invited Guy Podjarny, CTO of, to talk about some of the major performance concerns in the mobile web and ways to alleviate these issues. Guy’s talk focused on Front-End Optimization and highlighted 3 areas: mobile network, software, and hardware. Each of these impacts performance in myriad ways. The full video is available here, and runs just under an hour. If you don’t have time to watch this enlightening talk, this post discusses some key takeaways.

Mobile networks have high latency, and reducing the number of requests and the size of downloads are well-known optimization strategies. Guy also mentions using on-demand image displays such as loading above-the-fold images by default and other images only as they scroll into view. To handle network reliability, he recommends non-blocking requests eliminating single points of failure, with a selective aggregation of files needed for content display. Periodic pinging of the cell tower by the client can also reduce latency associated with dropped connections, but judicious timeouts and battery drain on the mobile device need to be factored in.

Modern mobile browsers are built mobile-friendly, and they can be helped further by exploiting localStorage to store CSS and JavaScript files. Pipelining multiple requests on a connection is an option, but developers need to work around head-of-line blocking by using techniques such as splitting dynamic and static resource requests on different domains.

Mobile hardware CPUs are weaker than their desktop counterparts. Guy points out the need to minimize JavaScript when designing mobile-friendly web pages and avoid reflows or defer JavaScript until after page loads. Clever image rendering techniques such as automatically resizing images to devices and loading full resolution only on zoom can also help.

Guy’s presentation makes clear that mobile web optimizations need to mitigate latencies introduced by mobile networks, software, and hardware. Rapidly changing OSes and browsers add to the challenges facing publishers. New and evolved tools and technologies will help ensure an optimal web browsing experience for mobile users.

Ramki Krishnan works at Google on the "Make The Web Faster" team. When not at work, he dreams of being a tennis pro, a humorist, and a rock drummer all rolled into one.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

In-App Payments expands its borders

By Pali Bhat, Group Product Manager

Cross-posted on the Google Commerce Blog and Chromium Blog

Since Google In-App Payments launched in July for developers in the United States, we’ve received great feedback on how easy it is to integrate as well as how simple it is for consumers to use. While the API has been off to a strong start, there’s been a growing demand for availability outside of the United States.

So starting today, we are opening developer enrollment for Google In-App Payments to 17 additional countries. In addition to the United States, developers from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom can now use the Google In-App Payments API to incorporate an in-context payment experience into applications on the Chrome Web Store and their own sites.

Developers using In-App Payments are seeing strong conversions and revenue streams thanks to these key features:
  • Ease of use: the short payment process for consumers takes place right in the developer’s app or site.
  • Large existing user base: there are millions of Google Wallet online users in over 140 countries.
  • Low fees: developers pay just 5% on all transactions.
You can get started accepting payments in your web apps by following the tutorial and get answers to any questions in the forum. We look forward to expanding to even more countries in the future, as well as continuously working to improve the Google In-App Payments experience.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Wednesday, 14 December 2011
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Automate with the Google Affiliate Network API

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By Ali Pasha, Google Affiliate Network Product Manager

Google Affiliate Network is a free program that makes it easy for website publishers to connect with quality advertisers and get rewarded for driving conversions.

Today we’re making it even easier for affiliates and advertisers to work with Google Affiliate Network by launching the Google Affiliate Network API, which enables publishers and advertisers to automate various tasks related to Google Affiliate Network.

For more information, please see the Google Affiliate Network blog.

Ali Pasha has been a Google Product Manager for several years and now works on Google Affiliate Network. Ali has also made key contributions to Android App Inventor, Google Code, Google Code Search, and Google AJAX APIs.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Monday, 12 December 2011
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Introducing the Google APIs Terms of Service and an update to Code Labs

Author PictureBy Adam Feldman, APIs Product Manager

The Google APIs Terms of Service

Beginning today, most of our APIs use a single Terms of Service. We have rewritten these terms from the ground up with the goals of making them concise and easier to understand.Our intent is to simplify, not to make dramatic functional changes.

For all the APIs that share this single Terms of Service, you won’t need to study a whole new document, although some have brief specific Additional Terms.  In this rewrite, we have removed over 125,000 words from the combined previous terms, resulting in less to read and faster access to your favorite APIs.  Over time, other APIs will be migrated to the new terms.  Please review each API’s documentation to see its terms.

The new Terms of Service is another step in making Google APIs more technically consistent by sharing common infrastructure such as the Discovery service, the APIs Explorer, and the APIs Console.

Removing the Code Labs Label

In order to reduce confusion we're removing the Code Labs label from APIs on The Google Labs program has wound down. APIs formerly in Code Labs will now use the standard header in their documentation. The APIs themselves are unchanged.

Adam Feldman is a Product Manager, focusing on all of Google's APIs and making sure Google provides the best possible platform to developers.

Posted by Ashleigh Rentz, Editor Emerita

Friday, 9 December 2011
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Fridaygram: graphing functions, telescope milestone, baby scientists

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By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor

You might already know that Google Search makes a handy calculator. Just type any calculation into a Google search box, and the answer is computed for you. Earlier this week, we added an even cooler, more powerful feature. Now, when you type a function, you’ll see it graphed.

As you can see in this image, you can graph more than one function at a time by separating them with commas. Once the graph is drawn, you can zoom and pan to see the sections and details you want. And the Google colors are a nice touch.

In other calculation-related news this week, the Hubble Space Telescope counted to 10,000. That’s the number of published scientific papers based on data gathered from Hubble. Although the telescope was launched back in 1990, it’s said to be in great shape and is taking great pictures, thanks largely to frequent service missions by astronauts. That should inspire you to change the oil in your car.

Finally, here’s one especially for you babies out there, and for those who know or are related to babies. The Nerdy Baby coloring book for very young scientists looks like a great way to nudge very small kids toward a proper nerdy upbringing. And when you’re not coloring, you can spend some time this weekend coming up with cool functions to graph on Google Search.

Fridaygram posts are just for fun. They're designed for your Friday afternoon and weekend enjoyment. Each Fridaygram item must pass only one test: it has to be interesting to us nerds (sometimes including nerdy babies).

Games, apps and runtimes come to Native Client

By Christian Stefansen, Product Manager

Cross-posted from the Chromium Blog
Updated on December 14th with the video of the event.

Since we launched Native Client late last summer, our team has been working hard to make the technology more useful to developers. Yesterday at an event held at Google we shared the progress we’ve made towards this goal and showcased work from some of the early adopters of the technology, including Square Enix, Unity Technologies, and Bungie.

One code base for all OSs
In September, we started supporting a set of core Pepper interfaces, suited for 2D graphics, audio, and compute-intensive applications. Since that release, we’ve shipped additional APIs and capabilities, providing native code with more of the capabilities available from JavaScript. These include hardware-accelerated 3D graphics via OpenGL ES 2.0, a mouse lock API, a full-screen API, and much more. One example of the kind of experience Native Client can currently support is Bastion, an award-winning role-playing game from Supergiant Games. Previously limited to Microsoft Windows® and Xbox® systems, the Native Client port of Bastion allows Supergiant to reach users on all popular desktop operating systems, with the safety and simplicity of the web.

Easy porting of previous work
If you have existing code bases in C, C++, or C#, Native Client now allows you to port your existing apps to the web while maintaining just one code base. This was particularly appealing to Spacetime Studios. They ported their multiplayer online game Star Legends to the web in less than two weeks from an existing code base of more than half a million lines of code. The side benefit of being able to maintain their existing development and testing infrastructure further accelerated their delivery of a shipping title.

More choices of programming languages

The community is actively involved in Native Client, porting some of the most popular application middleware. Ports include Unity and Moai game engines, programming language environments Mono and Lua, audio middleware such as fmod and Wwise, as well as the Bullet physics engine. These Native Client ports make the web more accessible to hundreds of thousands of application developers. At the event, we showcased upcoming applications from Heartwood, Silvertree, Exit Strategy, and Dedalord, who used those tools to bring their apps to the web with very little effort. We’ll continue to work with the community to get even more languages and middleware systems ported to Native Client.

We recognize that building a Native Client app is only the start of a successful app. That’s why we’ve enabled distribution of Native Client-based apps via the Chrome Web Store. The Chrome Web Store gives developers a simple, effective strategy to reach over 200 million active users of Google Chrome.

If all this sounds exciting, please visit our new documentation site at There you’ll find a growing collection of tutorials, examples, videos, reference documentation, and much more.

Questions or suggestions? Join us in the discussion forums. We look forward to seeing some great new apps from Native Client developers.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Thursday, 8 December 2011
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Introducing the Google Analytics Core Reporting API


By Jeetendra Soneja and Nick Mihailovski, Google Analytics API Team

Today we are announcing the new Google Analytics Core Reporting API as a replacement for the Data Export API. This is the second phase in a larger project we started a couple months back to upgrade our APIs to new infrastructure.

The Core Reporting API has two versions.

Version 3.0 is a brand new API, with a 10x reduction in output size and support for many new client libraries, like PHP, Ruby, Python, JavaScript and Java. All new features will only be added to this version.

Version 2.4 is backward compatible with the legacy Data Export Version 2.3.

If you are building a new application or maintaining an existing one, we highly recommend migrating to version 3.0.

One of the biggest changes in switching to the Core Reporting API is that you now need to register your applications via the Google APIs Console and use a project ID to access the API.

With this change, we are also announcing the deprecation of the Data Export API version 2.3. This API will continue to work for 6 months, after which all v2.3 XML requests will return a v2.4 response. Also, we plan to terminate the Data Export API Account Feed. All configuration data should be retrieved through the Google Analytics Management API.

See our Data Export API changelog for all the details of the change and read our developer documentation for more details about each API.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out in our Data Export API Google group.

Jeetendra Soneja is the technical engineering lead on the Google Analytics API team. He's a big fan of cricket – the game, that is. :)

Nick Mihailovski is a Senior Developer Programs Engineer working on the Google Analytics API. In his spare time he likes to travel around the world.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Monday, 5 December 2011
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Around the world with Google Developer Day 2011

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By Monica Tran, Google Developer Day Team

This year's Google Developer Day events just finished after a worldwide tour across nine cities and four continents. We'd like to thank the thousands of developers who contributed to making Google Developer Day a success. If we didn’t make it to your city, you can continue to get regular updates on all things developer at our Google Developers page on Google+. And for those of you looking for a community to join, get in touch with one of our local Google Technology User Groups (GTUGs) or if you’re feeling bold, start your own chapter!

Please read the recaps below, and visit our website to get the highlights, videos and photos from Google Developer Day 2011. See you in 2012!

Google Developer Day photos

Sao Paulo, Brazil: The countdown to Google Developer Day ended with the first of our events in Sao Paulo, where we welcomed over 1,600 developers. Brazilian developers showed up in full force for the event, celebrating the latest Chrome Webstore launch, showing us the most crazy code they’ve ever written and interacting with developers’ creations in the Android ADK showcase.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Continuing our Latin America tour, James Whittaker, Director of Engineering, delivered a keynote featuring the latest from Android, Chrome, and Google+. The keynote presentations were built in HTML5 and featured a 3D demo of the latest Ice Age trailer. The Google+ game was a hit among attendees, who used the pin exchange as a conversation starter to meet other developers. Those who found all five, including the elusive black Circles pin, took home one of these guys.

Moscow, Russia: Russia is home to the 4th largest developer population in the world, accounting for 12% of EMEA’s developers. On October 10, more than 1,800 of those developers joined us in Moscow, where we hosted five simultaneous tracks featuring 19 speakers and 25 sessions. With the help of Russian GTUGs, we featured 16 projects, including ADK-powered robots from our Open Call challenges. Check out photos of our speakers in Russian national shirts and other photos of the event here.

Prague, Czech Republic: This year’s Google Developer Day focused on bringing nearly 1,000 members of the developer community together in creative and fun ways. Our very first Developer Sandbox featured 12 companies, in addition to four projects from ADK Challenge and a showcase of the 20 latest Android devices. At the end of the day--after 27 sessions by 25 speakers--Ignite stole the show with eight Czech influencers presenting on topics from happiness at work to 3D printing. Additionally, check out our HTML5 developer competition, Mam Padla, as well as videos and photos from the event.

Beijing, China: Despite being a late addition, China showed up in a big way with a 3-city Google Developer Day tour that attracted 2,240 attendees. In addition to the keynote, 36 breakout sessions, 21 partner booths and 6 product demos were offered, and over 60 developer applications showcased. New to Beijing this year was the live audience instant message display, which was shown during the keynote. Seven GTUGs across China sent in greeting videos and nearly a dozen developers came on stage to share their experiences developing innovative business solutions using Google technologies.

Tokyo, Japan: With over 1,700 developers in attendance after being selected via DevQuiz from 5,000 registrations, and with over 100 volunteer developers and Googlers collaborating to organize, this year’s Google Developer Day embraced the spirit of open source with 40 developers in the Developer Sandbox, 17 Open Call (Android and HTML5) exhibits, a Mini Theater for developers to stage informal presentations, and an appearance from Bar Android. Ignite closed the event with lightning talks from 6 developers and our DevQuiz team, GoogleFes!, and a special dance performance from the GDD48. Check out our highlights video and photos for the full picture.

Sydney, Australia: We hosted our largest developer audience in Australia at our third Google Developer Day event. Our Sydney-based engineers and Developer Relations speakers put on 32 sessions, including a VC panel that featured interviews from experts at Posse, Pollenizer and Atlassian. To quench their thirst, developers turned to iZac, our Android ADK-powered bartender. For more highlights and photos, visit our homepage.

Tel Aviv, Israel: Israel has one of the highest numbers of startups per capita, leading us to deem it the “Startup Nation” amongst our Google Developer Day countries. 1,450 developers joined us for this year’s event, where we hosted 27 sessions, as well as lots of fun activities at the innovation lounge. To showcase the rich innovation coming from the country, local developers Paradroid, The Sign Language Glove, Xtendi and iOnRoad (among many others) were on-hand to demo their creations; while Tmura (the Israeli Public Service Venture Fund) and the Israeli Accessibility Association helped raise awareness for causes relevant to developers. Check out the highlights video and photos.

Berlin, Germany: With over 2,100 developers in attendance at this year’s event, the grande finale of our world tour, Google Developer Day in Berlin, was also our largest single GDD in 2011. Partnering with two of the most innovative universities in Germany, Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin (TU) and Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin (HU), we hosted 37 sessions in 5 parallel tracks. We had a great presentation of the winners of the German ADK- and HTML5-Open Call, university students showcased 31 projects with innovative technologies mostly related to Google products and GDD themes, and we had a great after-GDD get together at the famous Berlin underground space station c-base. Our German GTUG community, with 16 local GTUGs the most active in Europe, organized an amazing 4-day Developer Weekend, which included Bootcamp, Hack-and-Tell and Ignite sessions. Don’t miss our highlights video (featuring beatboxing at its best) and our photo gallery.

You might remember Monica Tran from I/O Live or one of our eight Google Developer Days around the world. Now Monica is back to lead the charge on Google I/O 2012.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Friday, 2 December 2011
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Fridaygram: indoors, in space, in formation

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By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor

The latest version of Google Maps for Android can take you somewhere new: indoors. The Google Maps folks have plotted out a bunch of airports, shopping centers, stores, and other locations in the U.S. and Japan. Now you have one fewer excuse for staying at home.

From the shops to space: last Saturday NASA launched the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), including the Curiosity rover. MSL will travel to Mars over the next 8 months before a planned touchdown next August 6th. Once there, Curiosity will conduct experiments to figure out if life was ever feasible in the landing area.

Finally, if you haven’t decided yet what you’re going to do this weekend, maybe you could fly in formation with jets like this dude did. Or you could clean out the fridge.

Fridaygram posts are just for fun. They're designed for your Friday afternoon and weekend enjoyment. Each Fridaygram item must pass only one test: it has to be interesting to us nerds.

Hacking for Humanity around the world

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By Christiaan Adams, Crisis Response Team

Every year, coders and designers have been gathering to meet with experts in disaster response and international development, to spend a weekend designing tools and hacking code for the public good. This weekend, December 3-4, 2011, the next Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) hackathons will be taking place in cities around the world, with the simple idea that technology can and should be used for good.

Led by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard, NASA, and the World Bank, RHoK brings together hackers of all stripes to create open source software solutions that address issues of global interest and assist the organizations working on those issues. The fourth round of global RHoK events will be taking place in more than 30 cities on December 3-4, 2011, and you are invited and encouraged to attend.

Some of the interesting solutions that have been developed at past events include I’mOK, a mobile app that was used after the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, CHASM, a visualization tool for mapping landslide risk which is being used by the World Bank around the Caribbean, and Bushfire Connect, an online service for real-time information on fires in Australia. Hackers have also helped develop features for Person Finder, a tool created by the Crisis Response Team to help people find friends and loved ones after disasters.

We’re inviting all developers, designers, and anyone else who wants to help “hack for humanity” to attend one of the local events this weekend, December 3-4. You’ll have a chance to meet other open source developers, work with experts in disasters and international development, and contribute code to exciting projects that make a difference. Googlers will be attending several events, including those in San Francisco, New York, London, and others. We look forward to meeting you there!

And if you’re part of an organization that works in the fields of crisis response, climate change, or international development, you can submit a problem definition online, so that developers and volunteers can work on technology to address the challenge.

Visit for more information and to sign up for your local event, and get set to put your hacking skills to good use.

Christiaan Adams is a developer advocate with the Google Earth Outreach Team and’s Crisis Response Team, where he helps nonprofits and disaster response organizations to use online mapping tools. When he’s not at work, he likes to go hiking or mountain biking, using Google Maps, of course.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor