Google Developer Day Berlin – 19th Nov 2011

Dublin GTUGgers attended the Google Developer Day in Berlin – here’s a short note on what went down…

A couple of us got to Berlin early and attended the Berlin Hack & Tell event a couple of days before the main gig. We got there a little late, so we missed some of the coolness. We did see a couple of great demos – two that spring to mind were the OpenGL abstraction layer which supports transmission and remote rendering of OpenGL over Wifi and enhancements to GWT to support mobile in a way that makes the GWT app look like a native app. The former enabled OpenGL content on a mobile to be streamed to a remote embedded device which had a HDMI interface and be displayed on a screen – it supported multiple screens and multiple device types (Android and an N900). The latter project supported development of client side app in Java, conversion to Javascript with GWT and display with some CSS appropriate for the platform to make it look like a native app – we saw a cool demo of the functionality on an iPhone which looked very like a native app.

The Bootcamp was on a day before the big event, but we had not booked tickets for this, so we missed out…have to make sure we’re signed up to this next time!

The main day itself had a keynote followed by 5 parallel sessions. The keynote started off with a review of the evolution of the internet, noting how it has taken such a short time to have such a profound impact on our lives. It highlighted the recent focus on cloud computing and how it is causing significant change in the industry. They touched on growth in the Android platform – it’s now installed on 200m devices – and some of the new Ice Cream Sandwich capabilities were demoed. They talked about the rapid developments that are taking place with Google+ and demonstrated some of the functionality of the new Hangouts API.

After they keynote, the day was divided into 5 tracks: Android, Chrome/HTML5, Cloud, Google+ and interestingly there was a university track in which TU-Berlin and the Humboldt University were invited to demonstrate projects they were working on.

It was not possible to attend all the talks, obviously, so here are some interesting points/observations made from some of the talks I attended:

From the HTML5 offline talk

  • in germany ‘modern’ browsers account for over 80% of browsers used – this means that most HTML5 apps should work on a large majority of browsers;
  • offline support for HTML5 is evolving – basic offline access is supported on most browers, but more advanced features such as the FileSystem API are not so well supported yet
  • chrome differentiates between offline apps installed via the webstore and apps not installed via the webstore – more resources can be given to the former
  • there are some nice tools available to help package apps for offline use
  • there still needs to be work done to support easy syncing of data between offline and online modes of operation

From the talk on Dart

  • Dart was designed by a lot of folks who were involved in designing V8
  • it brings in ideas from other languages, but has nothing which is really new (smalltalk, erlang, strongtalk…)
  • the main objective is to ensure that the code running in JS performs about as well as native JS code and the code running in the native Dart VM should run better – right now the native VM grossly underperforms JS, but they expect that to improve quite quickly
  • a question was asked about the relative merits of Dart and GWT – despite the fact that the presentation was quite slick and interesting, there was no strong answer with respect to this issue

From the Google TV talk

  • much of this talk focused on highlighting the differences between designing for the TV platform and other platforms (mobile, tablet)
  • it was interesting to note that the information density on the tablet can be higher than on the TV despite the latter’s much larger screen size
  • a key issue with designing applications for TV is ensuring that navigation around the app is natural – if the user is controlling the app via left, right, up, down controls, the application components need to know their position relative to other components on view
  • Google TV is rolling out now – while the amount of TVs was not made clear, the percentage of TVs sold with internet connections was noted

From the ignite talks

  • it was difficult to catch the idea of all of the ignite talks – here’s a few that stuck in my head
  • one of the guys developed a simple rain predictor application which took information from various weather information providers and the user’s location to estimate when rain was likely to occur in future
  • one guy developed an application for cycling in the alps – routes, information on what to bring, distances, places to stop, etc – he’s evolving this into similar apps for walking in the alps, climbing in the alps, skiing in the alps, etc
  • there was a nice talk on a system called liquiddemocracy which supported flexible means to manage voting: votes on many issues are cast and it is possible to delegate your votes to different parties; this could be done on a per topic basis, for example.

After the talks, there was the usual networking session – unfortunately, I couldn’t stay around to do much networking.

All in all, it was a pretty good event. The event is focused on enabling Google to talk to developers that use its platform: as such, it’s not a place where there is a lot of new information shared. However, it’s a good place to learn about how the technologies are evolving, to meet the Googlers and to meet some of the folks who are working within the Google ecosystem.

Would I go next year? Yes, I think so – of course, it’s nice that it was organized in a city as cool as Berlin where it was possible to enjoy a hard earned Köstritzer black lager (sounds crazy but it is damned nice) after full day of tech talks.

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About morphousmusings
Engineer, thinker, tinker, drinker, talker, walker, hiker, biker, liker, lover

One Response to Google Developer Day Berlin – 19th Nov 2011

  1. Pingback: November 2011 GTUG Meet « Dublin GTUG blog

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