Dec 13 2008 Sat
5:33 pm PHT
Thanks again to Andrew, I got to attend another Google event for developers (the last one was the TechTalk last year) and this is the first ever Google DevFest Manila, which was held last November 7 at the CSWCD Auditorium in U.P. Diliman. Unlike last year’s event which was mostly a short meet-and-greet and roadshow affair with two Filipino American Google engineers from Mountain View, last month’s DevFest was a really long conference where plenty of Google engineers came not only to talk about various APIs of Google, but also to give demonstrations as well. Developer attendees were encouraged to bring along their laptops as well and to try out the demos for themselves via the intermittent free Wi-Fi from both Globe and Smart. (I actually came armed with two ASUS notebooks: my old A6500R laptop and my Eee 701 netbook.)
Much kudos goes to Aileen Apolo, who, as Google Country Representative of the Philippines, became a one-woman events organizer, haranguing Max’s for the dinner and merienda and pestering the Smart and Globe network engineers to fix the problematic Wi-Fi at the venue. Andrew flew out to Manila from Davao specifically to attend the DevFest (he’s lamenting the fact that he missed out in last year’s TechTalk and the Google Map Maker launch), while Jerome, a developer from Zamboanga City, also attended. Other bloggers in attendance include Jehz, Winston, Coy, Jay. (See this blog post for evidence.) I also bumped into my college blockmate, JM, and also my former officemate, Ben.
The primary content of the DevFest centered around various APIs Google is offering to developers: OpenSocial, App Engine, and Maps API. There were also side topics from other companies and organizations like Apache’s Shindig (an implementation of OpenSocial), and talks coming from various social networking websites like Friendster. Attendees were also given some stage time to talk about their projects.
Among the topics discussed, it was the Maps API (and related technologies such as Map Maker) and the App Engine I was most interested at. I consider myself an indie web app developer (e.g., Lakbayan) and I really love maps (I’ve used the Maps API twice already: one in Vista Pinas and the other on ASwalk.net) so these two topics were the best fit for me. Well, I keep myself informed about developments in Google Maps and Google Earth so I did not particularly learn anything new from the presentations, but I did learn a lot from the App Engine talk. It seems that it’s a pretty good platform on which to develop web applications, but the use of Python is kinda a turn-off especially since I am planning to learn Ruby between these two languages.
Anyway, after the conference, I got a chance to talk to Pamela Fox, a prominent Google engineer in the Maps API team, about Google Map Maker, which she discussed during the Maps API part of the DevFest. Specifically, I asked her about the sharing of data concerns surrounding the project, which I have talked about a few times before (like in this post). It turns out that Google does plan to have a sort of Map Maker API so that other people can get at the raw data that’s been contributed to Google. Their problem is how to best set this up as a web application. So there is definitely plans to open up the database and not just to let people use the rendered map tiles via the API. (I say, make the data available as a geographically-constrained XML dump! Developers are more than capable of parsing the data.)
Pamela also shared that they get this question about Map Maker a lot especially from people associated or familiar with the OpenStreetMap project (like me!). I think Google definitely has gotten the message that people want the raw data. One issue that remains unclear is regarding the licensing of the data if and when Google decides to share it. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Other significant web coverage about the event: