Google Web Toolkit goes 100% open source

Summary:Google announced today that, effective immediately, they are releasing everything in GWT under the Apache 2.0 license. Source is available on Google Code, and they will be accepting outside committers.

You've heard the Ivory soap slogan, "99 44/100 percent pure". Until today you could say much the same about the Google Web Toolkit (GWT).

Google Web Toolkit
While most of GWT was open source, a few important pieces were binary-only. Today that all changed as Google made the entire GWT 1.3 Release Candidate available, with source, under the Apache 2.0 license.

GWT was introduced 7 months ago as a radical new way to develop Ajax applications using an old familiar language - Java. It enables developers to use all their great Java tools and expertise to create "no-compromise" web applications. According to Google's Making GWT Better page,

We definitely do not view development in GWT as a form of compromise. We firmly believe that GWT should generate better JavaScript code than you would write by hand, and will generally choose to avoid making concessions to convenience if they hurt the performance of the resulting AJAX code.

One reason Google created GWT was so they could use it for their own applications. Programs like GMail are incredibly hard to write because of subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between browsers. While they're not intending to rewrite GMail any time soon, GWT developers have been dropping hints about new public-facing Google applications in the works now that will be leveraging the toolkit. With GWT itself being open source, those applications can benefit from the resources of an entire community, and the community can benefit from the resources of Google.

So why wasn't GWT completely open source to begin with? According to Google,

We weren't quite ready to open source the whole thing immediately because we knew we had plans for major infrastructure work (like Mac OS X hosted mode), and we really wanted to encourage everyone to focus on the idea of the product itself and how to write apps instead of creating distractions having to do with GWT's open sourceness. GWT took off much faster than we expected, and it quickly became clear that the most sensible way to advance GWT quickly would be to open it sooner rather than later.

Bruce Johnson, GWT tech lead, says that Google is committed to "doing this the Right Way". From now on, he says, all GWT development will be done in the open, directly from the GWT project on Google Code. From the web site:

While we've never actually felt particularly stingy about keeping the source closed, now all code for the GWT Java to JavaScript compiler, the hosted mode browser, and so on can progress before your eyes. We're very much looking forward to contributions of ideas, bug reports, and patches.

Resources:

Topics: Google

About

Ed Burnette has been hooked on computers ever since he laid eyes on a TRS-80 in the local Radio Shack. Since graduating from NC State University he has programmed everything from serial device drivers and debuggers to web servers. After a delightful break working on commercial video games, Ed reluctantly returned to business software. He... Full Bio

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