Google Web Toolkit goes 100% open source

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.

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TOPICS: Google
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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.

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Topic: Google

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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8 comments
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  • Another GWT powered Goog ap

    Ed said:

    <i>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.</>

    Looks like GWT is starting to take hold internally at Google as evidenced by yesterday's facelift to Google Base.
    http://googlebase.blogspot.com/
    stars1son
  • Java

    Well, if you're going to make an online application - well, why not Java? Java has been able to do what AJAX can do for some time. Perhaps it's time it made a comeback.
    CobraA1
    • did you mean applets ?

      I guess that you are talking about Java applets ? Yes, they seem
      to be working flawlessly theese days, but people don't seem to use them so much.

      DG
      trenchsol
  • open source ???

    Is it the fact that the toolkit is Open Source supposed to make me feel better ? I am using a lot of Open Source applications, and I know very well that there some apps are excelent and some are good for nothing. Very much like proprietary or any other software.

    The fact that some software is Open Source doesn't mean anything, and does not tell anything about the quality.
    It does not tell anything at all, in fact.

    What keeps iritating me is that the press keeps treating Open Source, GNU, FSF as if they are sacred and untouchable, some kind of holy saints. Every word of criticism is considered a blasphemy.

    In addition, there is a volunteer watchdog force of advocates, ready to charge against anybody who does not show pure admiration. Reminds me of religious police in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

    DG
    trenchsol
    • Wrong!

      The fact that some software is Open Source tells you/me/anybody else that the user won't be forced to pay Microsoft anything for it.
      Go ahead and pay Microsoft if you want to, and leave open source alone. Open source isn't hurting you is it? Are they holding a gun on you and forcing you to NOT pay for anything?
      If you don't like what the open source community has to say, there's a very simple solution. DON'T READ IT!
      Simple huh? Even you should be able to understand that.
      Ole Man
  • I'm not sure how a story on something like this

    can be posted w/o even mentioning the competition in this same area and perhaps teh impetus behind the move.
    Plus, I don't trust Google. Why any open source programmer would commit their talents to this is beyond me. It's definately not a benevolent gesture to OSS by Google. They see it as another way to have others help them make money at no cost to them. Their internal codebase is not open and I suspect will never be. This tool is nothing more than a pure business move by a very proprietary company that is monopolizing the web. It's hard to even recognize, for a lot of people, that the Google toolbar is a security breach at most sites with any sensitive data and they allow their users to load it. In fact some shops load it as part of the staging process.
    I have more faith in MS doing the right thing for customers and the world in general than Google. They have done far too many things way beyond ethical into ground that no other company has touched, including MS (i guess this must be said with ever negative comment about ANY other tech company).
    xuniL_z
  • Is Google really open?

    See my small cartoon:
    http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/geekandpoke/2006/12/closed_google.html

    Bye,
    Oliver
    owidder
  • The Average User

    Uses Google for web search only.
    I don't use their toolkits, searchbars, etc, and regardless of their income sources (advertising, I believe), I can use google for web searching without being raped like I am when I use most proprietary (especially Microsuck's) software.
    Everything is relative, and there's no reasonable comparison at all there.
    Ole Man