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A Day at Google Developer Days London – Visualization API & Chrome – Part 2

A Day at Google Developer Days London – Visualization API & Chrome – Part 2

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Is you missed Part I, you should read it to learn about the other sessions.

Session 3 – V8 Javascript Engine in Chrome

This was the best session of the day because it had everything a developer would want to know about JavaScript architecture at a 200-level. It was very detailed and fast-paced. The speaker was a Chrome engineer who systematically discussed the history of the web and JavaScript usage. The key statement he made was that, “if all Chrome does is to get Internet Explorer 9 to be faster, we’ll have done our job.” He further went on to describe that Chrome is in the middle of a JavaScript “arms race” against all the other browsers’ JavaScript engines. It was clear from this session that Sergei Brin’s quote around Chrome being “a defensive move” was accurate. Chrome is also being used as a vehicle to drive HTML 5 feature-sets. A key area of contention is whether JavaScript should be enhanced at all. Microsoft’s engineering position is that scripting should be completely replaced with a new technology and to let JavaScript die a slow death.

Once this session is posted on YouTube, it is a definite “must see” for any techie simply for its academic content.

Session 4 – Google Visualization API

This session was good in terms of technical content. This is one of the few Google technologies that Microsoft currently has no comparative answer to.  I expect to see some news in this area closer to PDC later this month.  There are Microsoft partners who have similar technology. Essentially the visualization API allows easily embeddable charts and graphs to be generated from spreadsheets sitting in Google Docs. It is undergoing heavy development as well.  This feature is important for the entire web and Software + Services model when it comes to office productivity, so Microsoft is taking serious steps to fill the feature gaps. The key take away from this session was that although the visualizations look good and are useful, they are really no better than static images on a website because Google has made the error of not allowing the graphs, charts, and tables to be searchable. Because they are not searchable or exposed via XML-like formats such as Silverlight, accessibility is really seen as an afterthought. It was clear upon asking about accessibility that this issue was not even on their radar. 

There are very few people in the industry that are as serious about accessibility as Microsoft with the only real contender in the OS space being Apple. Google has a lot of growing up to do here. At present there is one web player who does this better than anyone. iCharts was featured at the TechCrunch50 and based on their presentation, they have tackled many of the shortcomings that Google has in the Visualization API.  Expect to see more in this space when Office 14 information starts to trickle out to the public

 

Conclusion

Google Developer Day was a fun and interesting event but it was clear that Google is limiting all of their talent to focus on the web.  Some may think the web is the future, and in a lot of ways it is, but there is still a lot of innovation and core technology research that still goes on to push the capabilities of the platform, regardless of what that platform may be.  If you’re a web application developer, I encourage you to compare the work that Google does in the space and the work Microsoft is doing.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  Check out Mix08 sessions (Silverlight recommended)!

Comments
  • Continue on to Part 2 if you want to read about the Visualization API and Chrome V8 Going to Google Developer

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