Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Google's technology stack

Well, I said I wouldn't write any knee-jerk reaction posts on this blog, only well thoght-through, throughly researched, and insightful entries. Certainly, I have some entries I should be rather working on, like mutithreading testing or lock-free synchronization... But I must admit, that was a bit over-optimistic, as you'll see in a second...

Recently, I stumbled across this one:
Google has recently launched the Google App Engine. From an Java enterprise developers point of view it is shamelessly easy to use, deploy, etc. Well, unfortunately it only takes Python apps for now, but it is stated that there will be more languages supported in the future. But it’s Google again putting its finger into the Java EE wound (first GWT with webapps, then Android shaking the Java ME world, and now App Engine showing how runtimes should look like).*
I blogged before about the "Google phone", which came out not as a phone, but as an SDK (BTW: do you want to make your 1st milion? Take part in the Android Developer Challenge, no kidding!). The local german "Java Magazin" published on this ocasion (i.e Android's release) an editorial, accusing Google of attacking Sun, Java, splitting the Javaland and whatever. What the fuss?

I cite Wkipedia**:
Dalvik is often referred to as a Java Virtual Machine, but this is not strictly accurate, as the bytecode on which it operates is not Java bytecode. Instead, a tool named dx, included in the Android SDK, transforms the Java Class files of Java classes compiled by a regular Java compiler into another class file format (the .dex format).
So you are writng Java code, but it's not running on the JVM! Is that forbidden?
"...some have related Dalvik to Microsoft's JVM and the lawsuit that Sun filed against Microsoft, wondering if a similar thing might happen with Google, while others have pointed out that Google is not claiming that Dalvik is a Java implementation, whereas Microsoft was."***
I don't know. But I think it shouldn't be!

Now for the Google App Engine. As I had a look at it some time ago, it didn't ring a bell with me. I rather though about it as of another grid computing offering, like Amazon's Elastic Cloud: just write your app locally and ther throw it on the grid and it will scale automatically with your needs. But when a Java person sees this, it sees Java technology attacked. The same for GWT: it is JSF as it should always has been. But come on, you are still writing your programms in Java, the difference is that the ideas don't come from Sun! I'd rather say Google is giving a second life to Java by providing new ways for using it. I wouldn't have though that 5 years ago, when they were essentially a C++/Pythonn shop!

Additionally, I can't help feeling that the Java poeople are thinking in an "imperialistic" way: boasting about their superiority, but on the other side always suspicious that someone may have try to challenge their (self proclaimed) supremacy. Like the late USSR...

But on the other side, when you look at Google, you could be tempted to think, that they are writing everything new: newly they published an own C++ test framework**** and an own (C++) transfer data encoding****, just as example. So maybe it's not an assault on Java iteself, but just a manifestation of the "Not Invented Here" syndrome? Now, the employees must do something in their 20% project-free time, so they programm every conceivable thing anew (and better?).

**** Google test framework:, Google transfer encoding:, and now they even wrote their own browser: Google Chrome (ok, you knew that already...)

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