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Google hosts first dedicated developer day

As it increases its focus on software and software-related services, Google holds its first global day of events to encourage developers to use and understand its products.

Search giant Google is intending to bring developers from around the world together to discuss the future of web applications by hosting its first ever Developer Day.

Marking the debut of Google Gears and also its 15th API - for Google Mapplets, which help mashup mashups, more of which later - Google is hosting events at 10 locations around the world, including London, Beijing, Moscow, Sydney and Tokyo as well as its base in Mountain View.

The importance of winning the hearts and minds of developers has long been recognised by the likes of Microsoft's and Apple and Google wants the next-generation of web apps, and their associated data, to use its tools and infrastructures. It is developers who will largely determine this future.

Featuring high on the seminar and workshop agenda is mapping information, following the company's raft of recent announcements and developments. Not forgetting Google Gears described by Chris DiBona, Google's Open Source program manager, as the "next evolution of the browser" and which enables Google apps to run offline.

DiBona was giving a keynote at the London event in Clerkenwell and boldly declared that "What's good for web development is good for Google." And stressing the company's open-source credentials, with it's adoption of Apache, BSD and Creative Common licences, he added: "Open source and Creative Commons are good for web development...they allows us to iterate API's faster."

Speaking of API's he highlighted the new Google Mapplets, currently in preview, that allow you to mashup mashups. According to DiBona, 'traditional' mashups involve mixing the data of one application with the visual presentation of another, for example mapping info. What is in prospect, courtesy of Google Mapplets, is combining the web functionality of the original application with a map overlay. In other words, elements of the original interface are preserved via the new one.

If the phrase 'cross-site scripting attacks' comes to mind, Google is ahead of you. The third-party apps would not run natively in another domain, developers were assured - any Javascript or CSS would be isolated within modules within iFrames, with restricted domain access.

Other points raised in the keynote included the claim that 80 per cent of online information included a geographic element, hence the importance of mapping to Google as it bids to organise the world's data. It is not all explicit mapping data - in terms of latitude and longitude - but involves the location of particular people, objects or services.

New features flagged include API support for processing RSS feeds in a mapping context, support for GeoCoding, converting test strings to location identifiers, and AdSense support, to enable the display of ads to monetise mapping apps.

The metaphor of the 'Long Tail' of information was also invoked in a geographic context. Whereas the head of the tail may involve corporate GIS data, the long tail involves data that was highly relevant only to specific users. An example was presented by Google's Zurich-based mapping specialist, Andrew Eland, who uses Google maps to record his hikes in the mountains around Lake Zurich.

DiBona also described the newly announced Google Gears, which attempts to bridge web services and desktop software, as "the next evolution of the browser." He revealed that its internal codename was 'Scours', because it works with Ajax...

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