On November 9th the Google Developer Day road tour made a stop in Munich, Germany, which luckily is close enough to Graz that I could attend without giving the trip another thought.
The event then took place in the M,O,C, a large conference and trade-show location in the north of Munich. The only downside of that location was that I couldn’t find any Etap hotel nearby. That said, luckily the Bavarian capital has a great public transport system with incredible low fares if you buy day-passes: EUR 12.80 for three days :D
And since I already arrived on Monday, a 3-day-ticket was perfect :-) So once I got to Munich and had my backpack left behind at my hotel I went back to the central station to meet with Andreas and Fabian for some nice food at the Paulaner im Tal were we also met quite a few other people from the conference :-)
After some beer and great food, the way back to the hotel went sadly not as smooth as the other way around. Not because of all the beer but because the local public transport out to my hotel had some problems and so I had to wait about 40 minutes before I could finally board my train.
The conference day started with a bit of a disappointment. Google had originally announced that the first 200 attendees would get some kind of present. Being limited to only a firth of the total number of attendees not few started speculating that there might be something really nice to get if you managed to get up early. So when I arrived at 0640 I was (1) really shocked to see probably 300 people in front of me and (2) a bit disappointed that all those people who got up even early than me got only some little bug gadget.
But if the plan had been to get people to register as early as possible to be able to start with the regular programme on schedule, it definitely worked ;-)
So after a really great breakfast with a quite classy (salmon, turkey, …) sandwiches the conference could start on schedule with the keynotes.
Here a handful of Google employees with some guest appearances from VMWare and the Technische Universität München, gave an overview of the current product line-up regarding browsers, cloud computing, mobile as well as collaborations with various partners.
The Chrome + HTML5 part of the keynotes made some really nice points regarding the evolution of the whole application ecosystem with the world before 2004 being completely desktop focused. In 2004 (+- a year) AJAX became widely available and more and more systems moved to the web and the browser as their platform. HTML5 was also a big topic with some demos.
The next part of the keynotes was all about cloud computing and AppEngine. A couple of new features like full map-reduce support, bulk import and export, background servers, built-in OAuth and OpenID support as well as background servers were announced. Also, AppEngine for Business was presented with features like an SLA, professional support and a separate security model.
updates to the market publisher site
more app statistics including crashes and logs thereof
cloud to device messaging (push messaging)
and a new license server
After the keynotes the conference was split into 6 tracks:
Chrome & HTML5
Monetization / Social Web
TUM & CDTM (TU München)
Programming the Web with Native Client
Presenter: Brad Chen
Brad Chen was the first to give a presentation on the Chrome & HTML5 track
about Native Client. The premise here is quite nice. NaCl is basically a
re-imagination of the plugin system which brought you among other Flash and
Quicktime integration with your browser. You can basically embed a binary
(compiled from C, C++ and I think C# for now, but more seem to be in the
pipeline) using the
<object /> tag into a website and then access exposed
Combine that with something like the local storage infrastructure in HTML5 and the power of browser applications could reach a completely new level :D
What’s new in AppEngine?
Presenter: Fred Sauer
This talk basically went into a bit more detail regarding the new AppEngine features presented during the keynotes:
Mapper API is for batch processing operating entirely in the user space with use-cases like data exports and report generation. The whole system can be rate-configured.
If you serve multiple websites from a single application, the new multi-tenancy support/Namespace API makes it easier to partition data store and memcache for different sites.
New features within the admin console include an improved task page (you can for instance pause tasks) and custom admin pages.
Every page needs some image resizing, doesn’t it? Well, now GAE has its own API for that at least on the Python side based on PIL.
Custom error pages
OK, I’m pretty sure this is the last general HTML5 feature presentation I’ll ever attend. Two reasons: I’ve already been at too many and this one was quite exhaustive. Everything was shown here with the exception of data attributes and the local storage infrastructure.
Also: The room was packet. It probably had about 200 seats but when the presentation started there was no square cm available even outside these chairs (e.g. on the way to the exit, between the exit doors, next to the podium…). Far too mainstream :-P
Storage, Big Query and Prediction APIs
Google now also has a file-storage infrastructure like Amazon’s S3 but more tightly integrated and more expensive but with (according to the presented) a more flexible security model. That said, it becomes interesting when you see it as a data store for calculations done on massive data sets with BigQuery and the new Prediction API, which allows you to train a black box with value-result mappings and query new data using a REST API.
Big Query is intended for analyzing massive amounts of data in an SQL-like environment.
What’s new in Google Geo: Maps API V3 and Fusion Tables
Presenter: Mano Marks
This was perhaps the most interesting talk for me. First of: The Maps API V3 no longer requires API keys but distinguishes services based on the server’s IPs. This means that for a site being launched in 3 countries on different domains you no longer have to have 3 different keys for developers, for testing servers, for stage servers and for live servers (3 x 4 keys). Great :D
Basically the whole Maps API was rewritten with performance and mobile being the focus. There is also no flash anymore and elevation is handled. V3 also offers some integration with Fusion Tables.
If you’ve reached the limits of what Spreadsheet can do with regards to large amounts of data, Fusion Tables is probably something for you. Each table, which can be filled for instance from a large CSV file, can have up to 100MB and there is currently an account cap at 250MB. Fusion Tables is quite tightly integrated with Maps and allows things like spatial queries for bounding boxes, radius, nearest neighbor etc. It also sports some more sharing settings than the classic docs applications in order to allow people for instance to use your data but not export the dataset to CSV.
Also part of the demo was the new “Styled Maps” feature of Google Maps V3/Fusion Tables which allows you to customize the look of your maps even more and also easily customize certain feature types.
Authentication on the World Wide Web
Presenter: Steven Bazyl
The last talk of the day for me was all about handling authentication on websites and between them. Steven Bazyl gave a quick overview about technologies like OpenID and OAuth as well as current work to improve them. There was nothing new here but a healthy reminder that having a unified login system like OpenID makes a lot of sense and should ideally make everything for user easier.
After the last presentation there was free beer and free prezels (probably again only for the first 200 since I didn’t get one :-P) in the main hall and those of us who took part in a quiz organized by the Chrome team got a new notebook sleeve. While I was still on my quest for a prezel, there was a blinkendroid world record attempt going on. There is even a video on youtube of that :-)
Afterwards a small group including Fabian, Constantin, Thomas and myself (if you were part of this group and don’t see your name here, please comment or drop me a mail!) went out to a nice restaurant called “Alter Simpl” for some great Bavarian food :D
Concluding I have to say that this was an awesome conference with tons of great new stuff (for me) and tons of great people. The only real downside I could see was the really bad WIFI. EuroPython 2010 in Birmingham had its problems with the connectivity, but the GDDDE took this to a whole new level. I think on the whole conference day I was only for an hour or two online. Kind of ironic for an online-company like Google ;-)
But except for this issue, the conference was really great. Big thanks to Google and the local organizers as well as to everyone else involved. I would really love to come again next year :-)