Did Google just change the world again?

Posted in Technicalon Apr 7, 2008

While Google is perhaps one of the most innovative web development companies out there, sometimes I am slightly disappointed because they fail to meet my exceedingly high expectations. Google has developed and released very few applications that I would consider as world changing. The short list includes Search, Gmail, Maps, Spreadsheets, and Calendar. That isn’t to say that Google hasn’t purchased and developed other emerging technologies which might also been revolutionary–Blogger, Picassa, Writely, Keyhole, and YouTube–but those applications got their start outside of Google. That also isn’t to say that Google hasn’t developed other standards and technologies which have greatly furthered the Internet. I’m simply making the point that Google has developed, from the start, only a few applications that most Internetizens would consider life-changing.

There is perhaps one product which is little known that I consider as having changed the Internet forever. This app has never really seen daylight outside the lab. In fact, its been a part of Google Labs for the last three and a half years. The product of which I’m referring is Google Suggest. If web applications were a family tree, Google Suggest would have been the grandfather of the so-called Web 2.0 apps we have today.

Google Suggest makes use of a web browser feature called XmlHttpRequest. This feature allows the browser to connect back to the web server and download additional content after the web page has already loaded. Today we see this feature used all around the web, but when Google Suggest was first released, few people ever knew that it existed. Post-loading content from the server was so revolutionary, that it has seen incredible adoption all over the net. So although most people never really knew about Google Suggest, it has indeed been the spark that lit the Web 2.0 firestorm.

Today Google released a new product platform which may be listed among the great revolution products from Google. Google App Engine (not to be confused with Google Apps for your Domain) is a service which allows web application developers to host their applications on Google’s servers, using Google technology.

Google App Engine solves the single biggest challenge in web application development: hosting. Having a web host that is well configured, well connected, and well tested is usually expensive, but it seems that Google will be providing at least some level of hosing for free. This really gives developers a whole new level of freedom for creating apps, and I think this will foster a whole new level of web application creativity. Who knows, this might be just the beginning of something called, Web 3.0.

4 Comments

vibhu

April 8th, 2008 at 7:58 am

Do you really think that Google is the first to do this. What about Amazon Web Services?

And IMHO Amazon gives me a lot more flexibility as to choose what service(SimpleDB, cloud etc.) I can use.

P.S. : ZOHO SpreadSheets were present long time before Google’s Spreadsheet.

Eric

April 8th, 2008 at 8:33 am

I’ve been wondering for awhile about the Python web framework Google uses internally. We’ve seen GWT for Java already, but nothing on the Python side — which is particularly vexing since there’s still really no “default” framework for Python devs: Guido (now working for Google) recommended Django, python.org uses Nevow, Zope is mature, etc. I’m interested to finally see what the world’s biggest Python-using software company has to say about Python web development.

jacob

April 9th, 2008 at 9:17 am

vibhu,
No, Google might not have been the first with Web Services, or with Spreadsheets, but they are in a unique position to make their services more available to people. Google is in a position to change the Internet, while others like ZOHO or Amazon just create really nice products.

Eric,
Yes, I think this is a huge boost for Python on the web side. There have been web-specific languages (or variations of languages) such as PHP, JSP, ASP, Coldfusion. I think this finally gives Python a platform to be considered as a serious web service language.

What do you think about Google providing support for other languages in the future? What if they came out with support for something like server-side-javascript?

Big ideas behind Google Apps Engine, a bunch of Words, punctuated - by Paul Robertson (http://probertson.com/)

April 9th, 2008 at 11:53 am

[…] Brunson thinks this is an example of Google “changing the world” — an innovative idea coming from inside Google rather than being bought by […]

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