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Google Talk #2 – Google Web Toolkit & WebM

In the second of our two exclusive interviews about Google's latest and greatest developer tools, Linux User & Developer talks Google Web Toolkit & WebM with product manager for developer tools, Brad Abrams…

This article originally appeared in issue 91 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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Google is one of the few companies in the world that has gone from being a noun to a verb. Along the way, the company has also gathered a reputation as a hotbed for the development of interesting tools and projects, such as Google’s free cloud hosting service, App Engine, and its Java-to-JavaScript web framework, Google Web Toolkit (GWT).

We tracked down some of the biggest brains at Google and posed them some tough questions about how their projects will evolve and change to accommodate the ever-shifting tides of development. In the first of our two-part series Linux User & Developer sat down with with Fred Sauer, developer advocate, Google App Engine. In the concluding part, we talk to product manager for developer tools, Brad Abrams to chat about Google Web Toolkit and WebM…

In the recent Eclipse User Survey, GWT was not very popular in the ‘frameworks used’ category. We believe it was around 3% of the overall frameworks used in Eclipse. Are there any plans to entice Eclipse users and, by extension, enterprise users to use GWT?
GWT actually has a very strong reputation as a powerful compiler and code optimiser. GWT takes the Java code that developers write and turns it into very highly optimised JavaScript code. In addition to the standard stuff – removing white space and obfuscating identifiers – the GWT compiler does significant ‘deep’ optimisations, including dead-code elimination, inlining and more. The most innovated optimisation in GWT is developer-guided code splitting, which lets you easily fracture your code such that only the fragments you need are downloaded, as necessary – sort of like streaming a movie online. This makes network-related latency much lower.

In addition GWT provides some great tools to make your Ajax applications fast. Talking to many customers, we have found that Ajax applications often have performance issues because of network latency (the round trips to the server). But it is not always easy to know what all the round trips are and how long they are taking. Speed Tracer offers an inside look at every millisecond of latency your application experiences so you can get every ounce of  performance out of your application.

How are the integrations with Roo and Spring going? The demo at Google I/O showed a very fast path to building applications with Roo and GWT, but most developers have already had bad run-ins with automatically generated code. Is this pairing able to keep generated code comprehensible, sane and, most importantly, editable?
The integration has been moving along at a very fast pace. Since our initial announcement at Google I/O, both teams have managed to ship two milestone releases, and are looking forward to a final release very soon. Spring is a very popular server-side framework greatly respected within the Java community. And while there are various front-end technologies that you can use in conjunction with Spring, we believe that the integration between Spring Roo and GWT will help unlock the power of Ajax, enabling developers to easily create web apps rather than web sites.

Spring Roo offers a very fast way to get started building applications that we think some developers will like. Spring makes it possible to manage your application’s dependencies in a sane manner. Spring Roo strikes a careful balance of code generation and developer customisation. Developers can get apps up and running within no time, swap out data sources, reconfigure  entities, and update views and controllers. The generated code is completely readable and understandable and customisable. This makes it easy to customise your app without losing the benefits Spring Roo offers. And just like with GWT, Spring Roo has no runtime overhead. All generation and optimisations are made during development.

There was a lot of initial controversy over Google’s claims that it would be able to extend patent and copyright protections to users of WebM. We know that some of the initial policies were revised. Can you give us a quick explanation of how Google’s plans for WebM IP protections changed after public scrutiny?
The small change that we made to the WebM open source licence was done to address a few issues in the way the patent clause was first written. The way it was originally written, the patent termination clause was subtly incompatible with GPLv3 and GPLv2. These two licences are very important to us and to the future of WebM. So, we simply updated the patent grant language to make it fully compatible with these and other important open source licences.
You can read in more depth about these changes on our blog.

Will Microsoft ever support WebM in IE?
Microsoft announced in May that IE9 will support the WebM format when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows. You can read more on their blog.

Since the WebM announcement at Google I/O, how has the open source portion of the WebM project been progressing? Is the community contributing meaningful code yet?
We are very happy with the progress of the WebM project. Since launch, there have been several valuable contributions to quality and performance. In addition, many companies have announced their support of the codec, including Mozilla, Oracle and Skype. You can
read in more depth about key contributions on our blog here.

You may also like: Google Talk #1 –  Linux User & Developer sat down with with Fred Sauer, developer advocate, Google App Engine

See what else featured in Linux User & Developer 91

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