Saturday, July 2, 2011

[Gd] Fridaygram

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The official Google Code blog: Fridaygram

By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor

The idea of Google Web Fonts is one of those things that makes you say “of course!” once you hear about it. Google Web Fonts are stored remotely and loaded via HTTP for use on your web pages, so you don’t have to wonder about which fonts are installed on users’ machines. Using a web font is easy: add a <link rel="stylesheet"> tag to specify the font you want, then add styles to your CSS that use the font.

Earlier this week, the Web Fonts team launched an updated site with a three-step process for browsing and choosing fonts. It’s pretty simple:
  • In the Choose step, check out the available fonts and choose from among them by looking at whatever text you want, in any size. You can search for fonts by name, filter by category or thickness, or look for fonts that support specific scripts.
  • After you pick one or more fonts, use the Review step. This step includes a Test Drive feature to see your chosen fonts in a sample layout.
  • Finally, you’ll see a nice speedometer that shows you an estimate of loading time for your selected fonts, and you’ll also get the necessary code for adding the fonts to your pages.
From beautiful fonts to beautiful art: this week we announced that Google Goggles now knows all about the permanent collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. When you use Goggles on your phone to view a painting, you’ll get details and audio commentary about the work you’re looking at.

Finally, here’s a tale of danger in space: the crew of the International Space Station temporarily evacuated into docked capsules this week when a piece of space junk got a little too close to the station. That’s a story you don’t hear every day; in fact, the last time it happened was in 2009. Stay safe up there!

Fridaygram posts are lighter than our usual fare. They're designed for your Friday afternoon and weekend enjoyment. Each Fridaygram item must pass only one test: it has to be interesting to us nerds.


[Gd] Introducing MCC accounts multiple links feature

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AdWords API Blog: Introducing MCC accounts multiple links feature

We’ve just released a new My Client Center (MCC) feature called multiple links, which makes it easier for agencies, SEMs, AdWords API developers, other 3rd party providers and clients to work together while taking advantage of the benefits of the MCC structure. It enables up to five MCCs to link to and manage a single AdWords account as necessary. Multiple links also removes the distinction that Google currently has between UI and API and API-only links.

Note this change affects Advertiser accounts only. MCC accounts can have only one manager as before.

Changes for the API users

There are a few API changes introduced by this new feature:
  • All new Account links are now of the UI_AND_API type. Existing API_ONLY links were not updated and are still valid as defined.
  • Every managing account with an API token will now receive 100% of free units (if eligible) for each linked client account based on its monthly spend. Previously, UI_AND_API type of links provided only 10% of free units quota.

For FAQ and billing-related information check out the AdWords Blog post.

Danial Klimkin, AdWords API Team.

[Gd] Cloud Coding and Beyond: Web Development Apps in the Chrome Web Store

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Chromium Blog: Cloud Coding and Beyond: Web Development Apps in the Chrome Web Store

When we talk Chromebooks with our developer friends, a common reaction we get is “I can see why my [insert-relative-here] would use it, but I need my PC for coding”. Over the last few years, browser-based coding has grown from a research topic to a viable practice. You can already find many development apps on the Chrome Web Store today. Some are conventional code editors and IDEs, built right into the browser. Others are oriented more around prototyping and design. There are also many tools for project management.

First up, IDEs. You can now code, debug, and deploy real programs from the browser. A popular example at Google IO was Cloud9, an IDE for JavaScript, Python, PHP, and Ruby. Cloud9 uses the HTML5 FileSystem capability and AppCache to sync files, so you can even code offline. There are many other IDEs in the web store too, such as Kodingen, Codey, Akshell, eXo Cloud IDE, and PHPAnywhere.

It’s not all about coding though. There are also apps focusing on web design, for people who want to make a web page without coding or perhaps experiment with a few concepts early on. Being able to edit and design web pages inside the tool that will display them is a very powerful concept. BuildorLite and BuildorPro let you construct a web page via a graphical user interface, and publish it straight on their servers. Handcraft and Mockingbird are two apps aimed at design and prototyping. And if you want a scratchpad to try a few coding experiments, check out JSFiddle.

Launching software isn’t just about designing and coding your apps; it’s also about managing the entire workflow, from planning release schedules to triaging bug reports. One example is GitHub Issues, providing a quick, app-like, way to track project issues. Another is Launchlist Pro, a checklist you can use to launch your website.

Chrome aims to bring simplicity, speed, and security to all users, and that includes developers. Being cloud-based means these tools are always up to date, and running inside the browser’s sandbox minimises the security risk to your machine. There’s no complicated install process and the only dependency is Chrome itself, which is automatically kept up to date. Just install the app and get coding.

We’re especially excited about what this means for new developers, as programming tools have never been more accessible to everyone. So whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just looking to get started, visit the Chrome Web Store today and build something awesome in your browser!

Posted by Michael Mahemoff and Paul Kinlan, Chrome Developer Relations

Thursday, June 30, 2011

[Gd] Improved On-Demand Indexing

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Google Custom Search: Improved On-Demand Indexing

When we launched On-Demand Indexing in Custom Search, our goal was to make it possible for you to include your new and changed pages quickly in your website’s search results. Since then, we’ve improved indexing freshness and doubled On-Demand indexing quotas. Today, we’re happy to announce further improvements to On-Demand Indexing that make the process simpler and more flexible.

First, we’re providing a new On-Demand Indexing API, which will allow you to initiate indexing actions programmatically. Your content management systems can trigger these new APIs when new content is being published, so that changes on your website are reflected automatically in Custom Search results.

Previously, you needed to provide validated Sitemaps in Webmaster Tools and then select a Sitemap for On-Demand Indexing in the Custom Search control panel. Now, to make this process simpler, you can submit Sitemaps directly within the Custom Search control panel. At this time, we will only consider URLs that belong to the same host serving the Sitemap and for sites verified by the owner of the Custom Search engine.

The best improvement: we now allow you to delete URLs from inclusion in your search. If a page on your site has been deleted, or has content that is inappropriate and you want to eliminate it from search results right away, you can list the URL in your sitemap and mark it for deletion by using an “expires” tag. For more information on this, and the new On-Demand Indexing API, please refer to our documentation. Based on the type of search engine you own, you have certain quotas for URL indexing and removal. You should be able to verify your quota usage in the control panel.

We hope that these changes make it easier for you to control the search experience for your users. As always, we look forward to your feedback.

Posted by: Rui Jiang, Software Engineer

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

[Gd] +1 around the world

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: +1 around the world

Webmaster Level: all

A few months ago we released the +1 button on English search results on More recently, we’ve made the +1 button available to sites across the web, making it easy for the people who love your content to recommend it on Google search.

Today, +1’s will start appearing on Google search pages globally. We'll be starting off with sites like,, and, then expanding quickly to most other Google search sites soon after.

We’ve partnered with a few more sites where you’ll see +1 buttons over the coming days.

If you’re a publisher based outside of the US, and you’ve been waiting to put +1 buttons on your site, now’s a good time to get started. Visit the +1 button tool on Google Webmaster Central where the +1 button is already available in 44 languages.

Adding the +1 button could help your site to stand out by putting personal recommendations right at the moment of decision, on Google search. So if you have users who are fans of your content, encourage them to add their voice with +1!

Posted by , Product Marketing Manager

[Gd] Highlights from our Google I/O Presentations

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Google App Engine Blog: Highlights from our Google I/O Presentations

Now that things have settled down from last month’s Google I/O, we thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the technical talks given by the App Engine team. At this year’s I/O, we emphasized some of the big themes we’ve been focusing on this past year: availability and productionization of our platform, removing limits while maintaining performance at scale, and developing new APIs.

Availability and Productionization of our Platform

Since App Engine automatically handles all of the sharding and distribution of your application across datacenters, we thought it would be important to talk about the strategies we use to run and maintain our platform. These talks also give you an opportunity to meet some of the engineers who carry pagers so you don’t have to.

  • More 9s Please: Under the Covers of the High Replication Datastore - We were excited to announce the HR Datastore in January, since it provides a high level of availability, even during unplanned outages, and even if an entire datacenter goes offline. HRD uses the paxos algorithm to distribute data across multiple datacenters. Alfred Fuller and Matt Wilder talk about the high level distribution strategy used and how this helps keep your app serving.

  • Life in App Engine Production - Let’s face it - everyone has some great war stories about running live applications. And the stories of Google’s SRE team probably rank with the best of them. Michael Handler and Alan Green talk about what goes right and what can go wrong running in Production.

Removing Limits while maintaining performance at scale

How can you design your application so you can transition from serving 1 user to 1 million users with the minimum amount of work? How do you make sure your user experience stays consistent for those users?

  • App Engine Backends - At I/O this year we launched App Engine Backends, which allow you to write long running processes on App Engine. Crunch numbers, process data, and build large in-memory models! Justin Haugh and Greg Darke give an overview of this new feature and cover best practices.

  • Scaling App Engine Applications - We always get lots of question on what it means and how it works to scale an app using App Engine (hint: low latency is the key!). Guido van Rossum and Justin Haugh explain how instances work and cover best practices for scaling your application.

Developing New APIs

  • Full Text Search - It took 8 days after App Engine’s initial launch for this feature request to be filed - and now work on the Full Text Search API is nearing completion. Bo Majewski and Ged Ellis give a preview of the upcoming App Engine Full Text Search API.

  • App Engine MapReduce- So you just want to analyze 5TB of data? You’ll probably need MapReduce to do so! Mike Aizatsky talks about the progress being made on the App Engine MapReduce framework and how you can use it to generate reports for your data.

  • Large-scale Data Analysis using the App Engine Pipeline API - Once you’ve written one MapReduce, you’ll probably want to write more, and then you’ll need a way to manage your application’s analysis pipeline. In this talk, Brett Slatkin discusses a lightweight API for managing MapReduce workflows.

Our team always enjoys participating in Google I/O because our engineers get to share their vision and discuss their work with a large audience. If you are interested in what some of our customers had to say at I/O, check out the Google Enterprise Blog. Of course, with App Engine featured in 23 talks for Google I/O, we couldn’t cover them all here. See the complete session list for I/O and discover all the talks on App Engine and more!

Posted by The App Engine Team

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[Gd] Enhanced documentation for selectors and reports

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AdWords API Blog: Enhanced documentation for selectors and reports

We understand the importance of documentation when navigating a system as complex as the AdWords API; for this reason we’ve been working to expand our reference materials to include even more information.

First off, we’ve published a new Selector Fields page that provides information about the fields that can be used in generic selectors. This information was always available on an object’s individual reference page, but now we’ve aggregated it together across entire services for quicker lookups.

Additional information on how to migrate from the service-specific selectors used in versions v200909 through v201008 is available in the Selector Migration Reference.

Next, we’ve added more notes to the Report Types page to indicate which fields will prevent zero-impression rows from being returned in the downloaded report. In general, any field that is a property of an impression or click (such as the date, network, etc) will prevent rows with no impressions from being returned, but we decided to explicitly mark these fields so that the behavior is clear.

Finally, we’ve added new tips to our Best Practices Guide on topics such as deleting entities and using gzip compression. The guide is a great resource for developers starting an AdWords API project, but is also useful for established developers trying to increase the efficiency of their applications.

We’re always looking to expand and improve our documentation, so if you have any feedback for us please post it to the forum.

- Eric Koleda, AdWords API Team

[Gd] Open App Revolution storms IBM Innovate 2011

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OpenSocial API Blog: Open App Revolution storms IBM Innovate 2011

    As a follow on to the efforts shown at the OpenSocial SOTU, we brought the Open App Revolution to IBM Innovate (The Rational Software Conference). Innovate is IBM Rational's annual conference for software and product delivery. It was held this year in Orlando, FL from June 5th through 9th. Matt Marum (IBM) was at Innovate this year demonstrating a cool social integration using Rational application lifecycle management tools within the Jazz Interoperability Center of the exhibit hall.
      Matt demonstrated how a single embedded experience OpenSocial gadget could be created that would work with multiple Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools through the use of the Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC). OSLC is an open community for developing standards to make integrating lifecycle tools easier . In the demonstration, he showed how ActivityStream activities could be generated from ALM tools using social rules to sort out business relevant activity. 
        These activities are then posted to an activity stream which was displayed within an enterprise morning report OpenSocial application running on an iPad and iPhone. The mobile device user could then interact with the underlying ALM resources using an embedded experience without switching contexts away from their social application. Leveraging open standards, he demonstrated the end to end scenario working on Rational Team Concert and Rational ClearQuest. He was also showed the embedded experience working with Rational Quality Manager and Rational Requirements Composer.
        Even better, by using OpenSocial gadgets it all ran within a Jazz Dashboard and potentially any other OpenSocial container. Here is a preview video put together just before Innovate. Products shown are Rational Team Concert, Rational Quality Manager, Rational Requirements Composer, and Rational ClearQuest.
        The demonstration was a big success! Attendees were excited by the opportunities of the social integration to change how they and their users work every day. This work is still at the "proof of concept" stage. However, you can track the progress of the work and get involved by following the OpenSocial spec list and Apache Shindig code base.
          Viva La OpenAppRevolution!
            Post on behalf of Matt Marum, Senior Engineer, IBM, by Mark Weitzel, President, OpenSocial Foundation

          [Gd] OpenAppRevolution at E2.0!!

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          OpenSocial API Blog: OpenAppRevolution at E2.0!!

          We are continuing our momentum that we built from the OpenSocial State of the Union where we kicked off the "Open App Revolution"! OpenSocial will be present at a number of upcoming conferences and community driven events in the next few months.

          We've working with the organizers of the E2.0 conference and they are excited to extend the OpenSocial community an invitation to the conference, with significant savings to you! Here's E2.0 exclusive invitation to the OpenSocial Community:

          Hello members of the Open Social community! 
          It’s our pleasure to welcome you the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, June 20-23rd at the Hynes Convention Center. The Open Social Foundation is supporting a number of important programs at the upcoming conference and will be on hand to educate conference attendees on the latest developments on Open Social.
          As a member of the Open Social community you can take advantage of the following offer. Register today to get a free Expo Pass or save up to $400 off Conference Passes* with Priority Code CPGGEB01. Get a Full Conference pass for access to the conference, workshops, expo pavilion, Launch Pad, free programs, and keynotes and general sessions covering the spectrum of Enterprise 2.0.
          See you in BostonEnterprise 2.0 Conference 

          There will be a number of our key OpenSocial leaders there, e.g. Matt Tucker, the Board member from Jive Software will be on a panel discussing the value of OpenSocial in the Enterprise. We'll also have four speaking sessions where we will be covering the exciting work going on with version 2.0. Here's the schedule of speakers in the theatre. (Make sure to confirm the times when you're at the confernence.)

          Tuesday 4:00pm
          Enterprise App Markets
          Matt Tucker, CTO Jive Software
          Tuesday 4:30pm
          App Sandbox & Embedded Experience
          Andrew Davis, IBM
          Wednesday 12:00pm
          OpenSocial Apps in Mobile
          David Robinson, IBM       
          Wednesday 4:30pm
          Activity Streams
          David Robinson, IBM

          We'll also have a table manned by David, Matt, and a few others who will be there to help you understand the value of an open, community driven standard, that can drive the next generation fo business applications, on prem or in the cloud.

          We are excited about E2.0 and can't wait to see you there!!!

          Viva la OpenAppRevolution!

          Posted by Mark Weitzel, President, OpenSocial Foundation


          [Gd] Stable Channel Update

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          Google Chrome Releases: Stable Channel Update

          The Chrome Stable channel has been updated to 12.0.742.112 for all platforms.  This release contains an updated version of Adobe Flash, along with the security fixes noted below.

          Security fixes and rewards:
          Please see the Chromium security page for more detail. Note that the referenced bugs may be kept private until a majority of our users are up to date with the fix.

          • [$1000] [77493] Medium CVE-2011-2345: Out-of-bounds read in NPAPI string handling. Credit to Philippe Arteau.
          • [$1000] [84355] High CVE-2011-2346: Use-after-free in SVG font handling. Credit to miaubiz.
          • [$1000] [85003] High CVE-2011-2347: Memory corruption in CSS parsing. Credit to miaubiz.
          • [$500] [85102] High CVE-2011-2350: Lifetime and re-entrancy issues in the HTML parser. Credit to miaubiz.
          • [$500] [85177] High CVE-2011-2348: Bad bounds check in v8. Credit to Aki Helin of OUSPG.
          • [$1000] [85211] High CVE-2011-2351: Use-after-free with SVG use element. Credit to miaubiz.
          • [$1000] [85418] High CVE-2011-2349: Use-after-free in text selection. Credit to miaubiz.
          The full list of changes is available in the SVN revision log.  Interested in switching to another?  Find out how.  If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.

          Jason Kersey
          Google Chrome

          [Gd] Dev Channel Update

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          Google Chrome Releases: Dev Channel Update

          The Chrome Dev channel has been updated to 14.0.803.0 for all platforms.  This release has the following changes and notes:

          • Updated V8 -
          • [r90216] Change the meaning of third-party cookie blocking to allow whitelists (Issue 82039)
          • Relaunches do not work in this release.  You will need to manually relaunch Chrome following a forced update, an about:flags change, or any other action that attempts to relaunch the browser. (Issue 87646)
          • [r90417] Remove the Global Bookmarks menu by default on Ubuntu Natty, in an attempt to fix minute long startup regression on desktop environments that use dbusmenu. (Issue 86715)
          The full list of changes is available in the SVN revision log.  Interested in switching to a different release channel?  Find out how.  If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug.

          Jason Kersey
          Google Chrome

          [Gd] The New Face of Google Web Fonts

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          Google Web Fonts: The New Face of Google Web Fonts

          As we talked about at our Google IO session, the Google Web Fonts team has been hard at work designing a new font browsing experience for Today, this new interface is available for you to try! Just click here, or you can click the New Version link at the top right of our current product. The interface has a lot of the features you've requested, including the ability to preview your own custom text, the ability to compare fonts side-by-side, as well as an indication of page load times.

          To arrive at the final design, our team spent significant time researching how users pick which fonts to use on your web pages, blogs and projects. Based on our findings, we sketched out dozens of possible ways to design our font browsing experience. After many iterations of testing with our test users, we believe we've arrived at a font browsing experience you'll really like.

          Our primary goal with this new interface is to ensure that as the library of free, open source web fonts grows, you can still browse the library quickly and easily. To accomplish this goal, we've introduced the concept of a collection, which is similar to the concept of a shopping cart on your favorite ecommerce website. Just add fonts to your collection, and then proceed through the Choose, Review and Use steps. During this process, you can compare them side by side, experience with them in sample layouts using the new Test Drive feature, and finally copy and paste the HTML snippet to use these fonts in your pages.

          During our user studies, we noticed that when users proceeded to select a font, they have a certain use case in mind. In other words, they knew they were looking for a font for a logo, for a heading or for body text. So we designed 3 different viewing modes - Word, Sentence and Paragraph - to facilitate font browsing in each of these cases. By default, you are in Sentence mode, which shows about a sentence length of preview text. But when you switch to Word mode, the font preview size increases, and the font cards shrink so you can see more fonts on the screen. When you switch to Paragraph mode, the text size will shrink significantly, and you'll see the fonts used in sample paragraphs instead.

          Second, the new interface allows for easy font browsing by weight. Just use the thickness filter in the left hand panel. Looking for an Ultra black font? How about Ultra Light? Look no further. This feature relies on the font technology of TypeDNA. The Google Web Fonts are analyzed to determine each font's specific boldness characteristic. In this way, you see a consistent level of boldness across the fonts in your filter, regardless of how the font designer originally categorized them.

          The new interface introduces the Test Drive module, which allows users to visualize their font collection in a sample layout. In this way, you can see what your fonts look like in practice, before embedding them in the final product. To take your fonts for a test drive, click on the Test Drive tab from within the Review step.

          And finally, the new interface has a final step, Use. Here you'll find an indication of page load time based on your font selections. It's important to remember that the more fonts you use on your page, the more font data needs to be downloaded before your users can use your pages. Although Google Web Fonts is highly optimized to serve web fonts quickly to any user in the world, it's always important to request only the font families and styles you intend to use on your pages.

          Sometime in the next few weeks, this interface will replace the current homepage at But until then you can give it a spin and let us know what you think by emailing

          Posted by Jeremie Lenfant-engelmann, Engineer, Google Web Fonts


          [Gd] Google at STAR West 2011

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          Google Testing Blog: Google at STAR West 2011

          By James Whittaker

          STAR West will feature something unprecedented this year: back-to-back tutorials by Googlers plus a keynote and track session.

          The tutorials will be Monday October 3. I have the morning session on "How Google Tests Software" and my colleague Ankit Mehta has the afternoon session on "Testing Rich Internet AJAX-based Applications." You can spend the whole day in Google Test Land.

          I highly recommend Ankit's tutorial. He is one of our top test managers and has spent years minding Gmail as it grew up from a simple cloud-based email system into the mass-scale, ubiquitous rich web app that it is today. Ankit now leads all testing efforts around our social offerings (which are already starting to appear). Anyone struggling to automate the testing of rich web apps will have plenty to absorb in his session. He's not spouting conjecture and generalities; he's speaking from the position of actual accomplishment. Bring a laptop.

          Jason Arbon and Sebastian Schiavone are presenting a track talk on "Google's New Methodology for Risk Driven Testing" and will be demonstrating some of the latest tools coming out of Google Test Labs. Tools that were born of real need built to serve that need. I am expecting free samples! Jason was test lead for Chrome and Chrome OS before taking over Google Test Labs where incredibly clever code is woven into useful test tools. Sebastian is none other than my TPM (technical program manager) who is well known for taking my vague ideas about how things should be done and making them real.

          Oh and the keynote, well that's me again, something about testing getting in the way of quality. I wrote this talk while I was in an especially melancholy mood about my place in the universe. It's a wake-up call to testers: the world is changing and your relevance is calling ... will you answer the call or ignore it and pretend that yesterday is still today?

          [Gd] Google Developer Day coming to a city near you in 2011

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          The official Google Code blog: Google Developer Day coming to a city near you in 2011

          By Monica Tran, Developer Marketing Team

          As Vic Gundotra announced previously, Google Developer Day (GDD) will be coming to eight cities in 2011. Please save the date, as we prepare to bring our world tour of GDDs to a city near you.

          • September 16: Sao Paulo, Brazil
          • September 19-20: Buenos Aires, Argentina
          • October 10: Moscow, Russia
          • October 18: Prague, Czech Republic
          • November 1: Tokyo, Japan
          • November 8: Sydney, Australia
          • November 13: Tel-Aviv, Israel
          • November 19: Berlin, Germany
          Google Developer Days are a chance to learn about our latest developer products and meet the engineers who work on them. As in years past, we will have an application process when registration opens, so stay tuned, as we will continue to bring you updates on this blog.

          In the meantime, get the conversation started with our official Google Developer Day 2011 hashtag, #gdd11.

          In the past four years, Monica Tran has been around the world, working as a Product Marketing Manager in Mountain View, London, and Tokyo. After a good run on Google I/O, Monica is back to lead the charge on Google Developer Day, happening in 8 cities worldwide in 2011.

          Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

          [Gd] Swiffy: convert SWF files to HTML5

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          The official Google Code blog: Swiffy: convert SWF files to HTML5

          By Marcel Gordon, Product Manager, Swiffy

          Some Google projects really do start from one person hacking around. Last summer, an engineering intern named Pieter Senster joined the mobile advertising team to explore how we could display Flash animations on devices that don’t support Adobe Flash player. Pieter made such great progress that Google hired him full time and formed a team to work on the project. Swiffy was born!

          Today we’re making the first version of Swiffy available on Google Labs. You can upload a SWF file, and Swiffy will produce an HTML5 version which will run in modern browsers with a high level of SVG support such as Chrome and Safari. It’s still an early version, so it won’t convert all Flash content, but it already works well on ads and animations. We have some examples of converted SWF files if you want to see it in action.

          Swiffy uses a compact JSON representation of the animation, which is rendered using SVG and a bit of HTML5 and CSS3. ActionScript 2.0 is also present in the JSON object, and is interpreted in JavaScript in the browser. This representation makes the Swiffy animations almost as compact as the original SWF files.

          Swiffy is a great example of how far the web platform has come. Swiffy animations benefit from the recent advancements in JavaScript execution speed and hardware accelerated 2D graphics in the browser. Viva la Web!

          Marcel Gordon is the Product Manager for Swiffy, doing the make-up and carrying the drinks. On the weekends he dresses up as a pirate and takes his hamster for short walks.

          Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

          Monday, June 27, 2011

          [Gd] 19 companies create innovative products with Google technologies

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          The official Google Code blog: 19 companies create innovative products with Google technologies

          By Becky Chappell, Developer Marketing Team

          Every year at Google I/O, companies arrive excited to demo their coolest new products in the Developer Sandbox. In the past, these demos were only accessible to I/O attendees. This year, we wanted to help spread the love and knowledge from these innovative companies to developers who were unable to attend the conference and to attendees who want to relive the excitement or check out companies they missed.

          In addition to the "Who’s at Google I/O" guest posts you may have seen from some of our developers on this blog, we’ve created video case studies from 19 of the companies that demoed their products in this year’s I/O Sandbox. These videos highlight innovations that span the entire range of Google product areas, from Android to Google Apps and Google Web Toolkit to Google TV.

          Did you know:
          • that CardinalCommerce is working with Google to enable alternative payments on the web and mobile devices?
          • that you can see what your town looked like in the 1800’s using HistoryPin’s photo layer on Google Maps?
          • that you can now play Angry Birds in Chrome? (OK, you probably knew that!)

          Here are a few videos to get you started:

          Watch the full playlist of videos here. As always, you can visit Google Code to learn about Google technologies you can use to build your own amazing new product.

          Becky Chappell is an Associate Product Marketing Manager on the YouTube Product Marketing team, but she’s been spending 20% of her time with the super awesome Developer Marketing team. When she isn’t at work, Becky likes to test out new restaurants in San Francisco and attempt to replicate tasty recipes in her own kitchen.

          Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

          [Gd] Lessons in a 21st Century Tech Career: Failing Fast, 20% Time and Project Mobility

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          Google Testing Blog: Lessons in a 21st Century Tech Career: Failing Fast, 20% Time and Project Mobility

          By James Whittaker

          If your name is Larry Page, stop reading this now.

          Let me first admit that as I write this I am sitting in a company lounge reminiscent of a gathering room in a luxury hotel with my belly full of free gourmet food waiting for a meeting with the lighthearted title "Beer and Demos" to start.

          Let me secondly admit that none of this matters. It's all very nice, and I hope it continues in perpetuity, but it doesn't matter. Engineers don't need to be spoiled rotten to be happy. The spoiling of engineers has little to do with the essence of a 21st century tech career.

          Now, what exactly does matter? What is the essence of a 21st century tech career that keeps employees loyal and engaged with productivity that would shame the most seasoned agile-ist? I don't yet have the complete story, but here are three important ingredients:

          Failing Fast. Nothing destroys morale more than a death march. Projects going nowhere should do so with the utmost haste. The ability of a company to implode pet projects quickly correlates directly to a great place to work. Engineers working on these project gain not only valuable engineering experience, they experience first-hand the company's perception of what is important (and, in the case of their project, what is not important). It's a built-in lesson on company priorities and it ensures good engineers don't get monopolized by purposeless projects. You gotta like a company willing to experiment. You have to love a company willing to laugh at itself when the experiments don't pan out.

          20% Time. Any company worth working for has any number of projects that are worth working on. It's frustrating for many super-sharding engineers to see cool work going on down the hall or in the next building and not being part of it. A day job that takes all day is tiresome. Enter 20% time, a concept meant to send a strong message to all engineers: you always have a spare day. Use it wisely.

          Project Mobility. Staying fresh by changing projects is part of mobility. Continuous cycling of fresh ideas from new project members to existing projects is another part. The downside here is obviously projects with a steep learning curve but I scoff in the general direction of this idea. Whose fault is it when a wicked smart engineer can't learn the system fast enough to be useful in some (even a small) context? Only the weakest organization with the poorest documentation can use that excuse. The only good reason for keeping people on a project is because they have no desire to leave.

          These three concepts are better than all the lounges and free food any company can provide. Here's an example, a real example, of how it worked recently for an employee I'll call Paul (because that happens to be his name!).

          Paul joined Google a little over a year ago and spent two months on a project that was then cancelled. He learned enough to be useful anywhere but was new enough that he really didn't have great context on what project he wanted next. Solution: I assigned him to a project that was a good skill set match.

          Less than a year later, his new project ships. He played an important role in making this happen but in that time he also realized that the role was leaning toward feature development and he was more interested in a pure test development role. However, he was steeped in post-ship duties and working on the next release. A cycle that, happily, can be broken pretty easily here.

          Another project had a test developer opening that suited Paul perfectly. He immediately signed up for 20% on this new project and spent his 80% ramping down in his old project. At some point these percentages will trade places and he'll spend 20% of his time training his replacement on the old project. This is a friction-less process. His manager cannot deny him his day to do as he pleases and now he can spend his time getting off the critical path of his old project and onto the critical path of his new project.

          Mobility means a constant stream of openings on projects inside Google. It also creates a population of engineering talent with an array of project experiences and a breadth of expertise to fill those positions. 20% time is a mechanism for moving onto and off of projects without formal permissions, interviews and other make-work processes engineers deplore.

          Let's face it, most benefits are transient. I enjoy a good meal for the time it is in front of me. I enjoy great medical when I am sick. I appreciate luxury when I have time for it. Even my paycheck comes with such monotonous regularity that it is an expectation that brings little joy apart from the brief moment my bank balance takes that joyful upward tick. But if I am unhappy the rest of the day, none of those islands of pampering mean squat. Empower me as an engineer during the much larger blocks of my time when I am doing engineering. Feed my creativity. Remove the barriers that prevent me from working on the things I want to work on.

          Do these things and you have me. Do these things and you make my entire work day better. This is the essence of a 21st century tech career: make the hours I spend working better. Anything more is so dot com.

          Ok, Larry you can start reading again.