Google I/O Day 1: Cheers and Jeers

Now in it's third year, the I/O conference is to Google as WWDC is to Apple. But not everything was sweetness and light for the opening day.
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor

It was hit-and-miss for Google and friends today as they announced a series of new initiatives, projects, partnerships, and updates at the 2010 Google I/O developer's conference. Here's my take on today's events.

Cheers! to Google for its leadership and support of HTML5 and open web standards. HTML5 is the best thing since, well, HTML4. Media tags, web workers, style transitions, ... the list goes on and on. In a year or two we'll wonder how we got along without it. Google didn't invent HTML5, but they're sure as heck giving it a big push.

Jeers! to Google for its half-baked open source release of the WebM/VP8 video codec and its brazen attempt to instantly declare it as an internet "standard". Unfortunately the announcement will likely have no practical benefit other than to serve as an affront to competitors Apple and Microsoft. Costing the company over $100 million, this has to set a new record for expensive nose tweaks. I've got a lot more to say about WebM but I'll save it for a later post.

Cheers! to Adobe for putting on a brave face and supporting HTML5 in their tools. The demo of editing support in DreamWeaver CS5 was impressive. I especially liked the ability to view and dynamically edit the web site in multiple profiles at once, and their timeline editor for CSS transitions.

Jeers! to Google for making us await another day for any Android announcements. We want FroYo! With sprinkles, please.

Cheers! to Google for the Google App Engine for Business. Sure it's a little pricey, but you get a real, honest to goodness SLA for peace of mind, and a SQL database for those not quite ready for the brave new schama-less BigTable world. Hmmmm, SQL.

Jeers! to Google for the Chrome Web Store. According to Google, the store is necessary because it's "hard to find apps on the web". Maybe they should make a search engine or something. Oh, wait. The store will be only for Google Chrome users and will let developers charge the privilege of getting elevated permissions and a fancy looking browser tab. Be still, my heart.

Cheers! to David Glazer, engineering director at Google, for wearing one of the coolest geek outfits ever. It's an authentic looking Hockey uniform shirt with "HTML" on the front and the number "5" on the back. Want.

Jeers! to wireless networking in the Moscone West center. Almost nothing worked: not WiFi, not T-Mobile 3G, and not Verizon 3G. Demos faltered and sputtered as thousands looked on, and there was much gnashing of teeth by Tweeters and bloggers alike. Surprisingly, about the only network working today was AT&T's 3G network. I guess the Google-centric crowd gave Ma Bell a breather by not cluttering the airwaves with the usual iPhone chatter.

Cheers! to the GWT and Spring Source teams for bringing the best client and server side technologies under one Eclipse-based tool set. The Speed Tracer demo with integrated end-to-end profiling was simply awesome. You can see where every millisecond of delay from every click in your web application is coming from, whether it's HTML parsing, JavaScript interpreting, or back-end SQL queries. And the new GWT 2.1 mobile-ready controls are like manna from heaven, as long as you don't have the network from hell. See previous point.

And finally, a big Cheers! to Terry McDonell, editor of Sports Illustrated. Proclaiming himself unashamedly to be "the oldest guy in the room," he presented a compelling vision for taking publishing at SI and other Time Inc. properties into the Internet age. Backed by "strong journalism and informed opinion," his ideas about tightly edited, curated, open, social, and searchable content seems tailor-made for armchair devices like the iPad and upcoming Android tablets. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the Swimsuit Edition.

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