May 19, 2006

The Platform Effect and Google Web Toolkit

Google released their AJAX UI framework, GWT, two days ago, following a similar move from Yahoo some months ago.

I haven't really looked at it in depth, yet, as I did with Yahoo's
YUI, but I find myself asking the same question: Why?

It's nice and all, but who benefits? I mean, sure there's some goodwill effect - but is that the reason? Maybe - but that's likely only the tip.

Dave Besbris suggests its because of an anticipated "Platform Effect" - that developers will consume the tools, visit their forums, go to their developer website, participate in their eco-systems, and that will be good. But additionally, having used YUI or GWT, it'll be really trivial for them to embed the Yahoo Chat tool, or the Google message board system: they'll be emotionally and technically commited already, having written/included most of the code to consume more advanced services.

Its a tactic that, in the past, Microsoft has used to devastating effect. Lately, we've even seen the value of it from endeavors like YouTube. They'll give you the HTML code to play their hosted video on your own site - and that drives more video ON their site, as well as traffic and eyeballs back.


Anonymous said...

I think it's the same reason we release VoIP, AIM PhoneLine, CVN, after Vonage, Skype, and YouTube exist...branding.

For some odd reason people like Google and their branding. I don't buy the whole "Do no evil" charade but hey, why not.

Anonymous said...

Though they've tossed in the "GWT compiler" that translates Java code (using a somewhat restricted set of the runtime class library) to JavaScript so you can author your client side in Java before "publishing ". Geek value? ... sure ... useful? ... uhmm ... dunno.

And if Sree hadn't linked to Dave Besbris, I would surely never have seen the photo of Kotayniac ... priceless.

Sree Kotay said...

d'oh! dangers of blind linking...

Anonymous said...

I dont work for Google..........yet :) but I ll defend why GWT needs a modicum of attention.

It does sure does look like a geek toy. For starters,it supports bare minimum java library;doesnt have anything fancy to do with 2D|3D; converts Java to Javascript!!!;Doesnt have UI finesse or refinement;If you hate JSwing then I completely understand.There are other questions too, do I trust a compiler generated Javascript code? Is that better than my handwritten code?; Any way to audit it? or do I really need it?. Does my js code size take a order of exponent when my UI designs become complex?. I downloaded GWT and faithfully ran some sample code and after a few helloworld foobars, I realized it is really nifty. Suddenly I dont have to worry about browsers. I dont have to launch a dreaded javascript debugger. I can debug my application with out breaking my browser. I can suddenly make my autocomplete/states come alive(good luck doing that in a non AJAX environment).

So why is google launching GWT?...I agree with Besbris; Its their first strategic salvo to capture & counteract the oncoming Microsoft challenge to capture Rich Internet Application Market. They want to provide the right tools to do that and they want to provide it to you first.

Sooner than sooner might be, web applications are going to perform like desktop applications. Plain vanilla DHTML is not going to be dynamic enough to run RIA apps. You are going to need AJAX servlets or someform of simple RPC to do your blindingly fast business logic to provide richness to WebApps masquerading as DeskApps. Currently their support for UI is minimal since they dont have anything more than trees, tbars, menus and dialogs. But when they bring in their library to support vector graphics, you will suddenly see a very rich UI with AJAX. That combined with the enormous java developer base that the world has around, it seems to me it will be very easy for a Java programmer to write a rich internet app in a much shorter time; and you dont have to unlearn java SWING. They want you to host all your hosted mode RIApps in their servers. They are your search today, soon they will want to be your remote database, eventually they want to be your remote operating system. Yes they want the OS market so badly(yes you are thinking I am crazyyy :)

There is one issue I see.Their JS code might get clumsy and unmanageable if UI designs get complex. Their rendering is much slower. Our own boxely is much faster and better manageable code wise. If we add a Simple secure RPC service to boxely then it will beat Echo and GWT and all its AJAX brothers in one swipe. I think Sree already has that in his mind :)