Google IO 2008

I’m glad I live in the Silicon Valley! The best part about living here is the opportunity to mingle with like minded people. Since its the summer and classes are over(yippie!), I went to the Google IO conference, google’s developer event at San Francisco’s Moscone West Center.It was 2 days of extensive coverage of various aspects of google’s technologies. This year, the emphasis seemed to be on:
1. Google App Engine(Duh!)
2. Android
3. Open Social.
4. Google Web Toolkit
5. Google API’s like the maps API, etc.

The talks I attended over the 2 days were:

1. Client, Connectivity, and the Cloud – Vic Gundotra :- The keynote session was called “Client, Connectivity and the Cloud” and Vic spoke about how Google, being primarily an internet based company, cares about moving the internet forward. This benefits both Google and us, the users of the internet. Fair enough.

Vic announced a few things about the Google app engine’s tentative pricing model, new release of the google web toolkit, which is now compatible with Java 5 and a few announcements about Google gears and the OpenSocial API. Check this blog for details about the announcements.

2. Painless Python for Proficient Programmers – Alex Martelli :- This was a 2 session talk, part 1 was a basic introduction to the python syntax, books about Python, Python in comparison with Java and C++, and so on.
Session 2 was a little more technical and was pretty interesting for me, probably because I don’t know python :-), I’m sure someone who knew python would get bored, as Alex himself announced at the beginning of the talk.

Python seems to have a command line interpreter as well to crank out quick implementations and test out ideas, which is really useful. After being exposed to a similar interpreter with Scala, I was curious why Java doesn’t have a similar interpreter, turns out there is one, called “bean shell” . I highly recommend this to smart programmers who don’t want to go through the pain of creating a class, typing the lousy public static void main blah blah just to try out some string manipulation, etc.

3. Open Source is Magic – Chris DiBona :- Chris’ talk was a general one, but really funny. Chris is a personality for sure! Chris has a long history of being involved with open source projects and is now the Open Source program manager at Google. He spoke about how open source works at Google and why Google supports Open Source. Also, he also spoke about the Summer of Code program at Google and a similar program for high school kids called “Google Highly open Participation contest“. Interesting talk over all. Also, Chris was the Principal Speaker at out Department’s Convocation this month. I wasn’t there though :-).

4. Underneath the Covers at Google: Current Systems and Future Directions – Jeff Dean :- This was a really fascinating talk. Rarely do we get to hear detailed descriptions about Google’s infrastructure and how they handle massive requests the way they do. Jeff Dean has been at Google since 1999 and has done a lot of amazing work.
He covered a lot of fascinating topics like Google’s implementation of Mapreduce and BigTable, how new employees at Google get comfortable with the infrastructure, the programming languages used at Google, etc. A detailed description is available here.

5. Monetizing Application Traffic On Social Network – Sourabh Niyogi :- This talk by one of the founders of Social Media was not at all what I expected out of the talk. I went in thinking that this would be a generic talk where the focus would be on monetizing strategies for a person who has an application which is social networking oriented, but this talk turned out to be basically on the lines of ” if you develop apps for facebook, myspace or hi5, come to us and we’ll put ads on your application and send you a check every month” which was pretty lousy.  What sucks more is this was my first talk for Thursday and all I could think of sitting in the talk is, how much longer until lunch time !?

6. GWT Extreme – Ray Cromwell :- Ray spoke about some of the advantages of GWT over regular Javascript, for those who dont know, GWT(Google Web TOolkit) is a web framework which compiles to highly optimized Javascript and makes it very easy to write fast, ajax based applications. The code looks like the code one would normally write for a swing based application and being so, programmer productivity is pretty high.
Ray compared JQuery with GWTQuery and showed how GwtQuery uses annotations and compilation to get a 7:1 code size decrease when compared to jQuery. GWT also uses deferred binding like Ruby which is pretty cool. I’ve really liked everything I’ve seen and heard about GWT and probably will be my framework of choice for any application I develop next for personal use.

I didn’t attend as many talks as I’d have liked because I spent most of my time playing foosball! Believe it or not, this is my first time playing foosball and I loved it! Although I still suck as a player, I loved every minute of it. I also made a lot of good friends while playing, so I had a good crowd to hang out with during the evening’s party on day 1.

My Foosball Friends

The party itself was so much fun, disco lights! Video games! Lots of food and alcohol! I got my fair share of all the action :-). The concert by Flight of the conchords started around 8.00 pm and went on for a couple hours. I love the funny lyrics the band has, although its not really my kind of music, but it was fun nonetheless.

Also, with the mention of Google comes the recollection of the fact that the people there eat all kinds of awesome food! Life was good at the Moscone west center too! They had three types of menus, The Deli Menu, The Grill Menu and the Mexitali Menu. Did I also mention that they had snacks available all day long?! Fun Fun!

Finally, Thursday was mainly all about the talks, I went to a couple of them but mainly played intense foosball! and it ended around 4.15 in the afternoon and I left feeling really happy about being in the Silicon Valley :-).

Photos from the event on


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