Developers give Google mixed reviews

Google I/O attendees laud development technologies but question the company's directions and intentions

Questions of intention

Mixed messages from a company growing in nearly every direction at once are one thing; the increasing perception that Google's growth itself presents a threat to developers and users is another.

"Google has a lot of information, and they have a lot of power, and I hope that the use of that power continues to be at least benevolent. If not benevolent, then at least neutral," said David Brenneman, a technology consultant and student at San Francisco State University.

Brenneman said he would not like to see Google partnering with the government, accessing people's e-mail, or studying people's search habits. "Things like that would be particularly frightening to me," he said.

Descartes' West also questioned the search giant's intentions -- in particular, the potential impact App Engine could have on ISPs.

"One of the most fundamental shockers to me was Google offering their cloud-based solutions. To me, I'm saying, 'Does this spell the end of the ISPs?'" West said.

Despite such misgivings, from a development perspective, both Brenneman and West were positive on App Engine.

"One of the main things I like about it is that you can program for it in Python and also that it's freely available to try out," Brenneman said.

West, left in the cold at the conference as an advertiser, was warmed by the prospects App Engine held for Descartes, his engineering design firm.

App Engine revs to mixed reviews

App Engine -- Google's fledging cloud-computing play -- was both embraced and criticized by many in attendance.

Rod Boothby, vice president of platform evangelism at cloud platform Joyent, was one such attendee who depicted App Engine in a mixed light.

"It's helping to get people to start moving onto the cloud, and I think that there are going to inevitably be a series of different cloud computing solutions, some [that] are more geared toward industrial-strength enterprise solutions [and] others that are proprietary like Google's," Boothby said.

Yet, Boothby added, App Engine offers its own way of storing data and files, which he believes will call for considerable re-architecting work for those looking to use the platform.

"It's tough to migrate some applications onto App Engine because you need to redo the way that those applications think about databases," Boothby said.

Attendee Tino Breddin, an intern at SAP Research and student at Dresden University of Technology in Germany, left with some questions about App Engine.

"I want to see what is the difference between App Engine and Amazon EC2 [Elastic Compute Cloud], for instance," Breddin said.

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