May 29

So, what’s it all about?

Here are the main things that Google is presenting here:

Google Gears

Gears is all about extending the browser by using more client side capabilities. It gives developers an API that let’s them do neat desktop-like things in a web app running on a gears-eneabled browser. Examples of this behaviour would be preserving state asynchronously in the client and showing desktop notifications. Gears is Google’s response to the browser jail problem. However, it is not directly an adobe air competitor since the offline side is not really their goal. They are trying to get gears into the HTML5 standard.

Google App Engine

Some while ago, Amazon decided to share its amazing infrastructure with AWS. Following those steps, Google now shares its computing cloud through the Google App Engine. In simple words, the app engine lets you host your application in Google’s servers, using their incredibly fast load balancing algorithms. They provide a simple API that is based on the concepts of easy-to-deploy and easy-to-scale (as in scaling to millions and millions of table row data). This API si made available via python, and frameworks like Django “kind of” work with it. The problem with most of the frameworks is that they need a relational database to work on, and while app engine does provide an interface that mimics this, it is severely limited in that respect. The reason for this is efficiency. Because you need to locate the data in a server, seek it in the disk, and finally bring it home, app engine has to have a schema-less datastore. This makes the Django admin, Django’s killer feature, totally useless. Perhaps a Django port is in order?

Google Maps

Maps has always been the part of Google that amazes me the most. This time, the Maps team announced a plugin for the browser and a javascript API that allows developers to use client-side map goodies. The plugin works so well that a demo was showed portraying a 3D map in first person perspective and model of a milk delivery car. The car is actually a kml file and it could be controlled just like a car in a videogame. The impressive part is that all this is done via javascript, the matrix transformations (rotations, translations), multipliers, etc. Quite frankly, I have underestimated javascript. A thing that’s also cool is their support for WFS and WMS and remote loading of maps.

Next post I will give you news of their AJAX API and Android.

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