Google Shares Code in Open-Source Play

Google launched a new site this week designed with open-source developers in mind. Dubbed Google Code, the site includes four open-source projects, APIs, and other tools to assist developers working on Google-related projects.

In their welcome letter, Chris DiBona, Google’s open-source program manager, and engineering manager Greg Stein said they hoped developers would build communities around the new tools. They ended the letter with the words, “And happy coding!”

Extending API Trend

Jason Dowdell, who operates MarketingShift, the blog focused on media research and technology, told LinuxInsider that Code is a smart move for Google. He said it’s part of a bigger trend of sharing data — and that’s where APIs, or application program interfaces, come in.

Google is not the first or only major Internet brand to introduce APIs. Amazon, Blogger, eBay and others have jumped on the API bandwagon. “The API just gives developers data that the code produced,” Dowdell said. The Code site will be a help to Google more than anyone else, he said.

“APIs allow companies to conduct free R&D,” Dowdell said. “Opening up data or tools or resources through an API encourages users to push the technology to the next level for free. Weekly winners in their API contest get a $7 T-shirt. That’s much less costly than other R&D models.”

Some Access

Dowdell did say, however, that Google is the first to give developers access to pieces of code, small as they may be.

“Google is allowing developers to access very small pieces of code. That’s what’s unique,” he said. “But this is really all sizzle and no steak. Google is giving developers crude and fundamental code.”

On the other hand, he continued, “It may help with something completely unrelated to search.”

In the Works

Google’s current open-source projects include CoreDumper, a library that can be compiled into applications to create core dumps of the running program without termination, and Sparse Hashtable, which contains several hash-map implementations in use at Google with performance characteristics that include an implementation that optimizes for space and speed.

The third project, Goopy/Functional, is a Python library that brings functionality programming aspects to Python. Finally, Perftools are designed to help developers create more robust applications. Google said this is helpful for developers using multithread applications in C++ with templates.

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