Posts from February 2008

Open Source Team Heads East

Friday, February 29, 2008

Post by Cat Allman, Open Source Team

If you've ever wanted to hear what we on the Open Source team have to say "live and in person", you will get a chance next week at DrupalCon Boston '08. This twice annual conclave of Drupal developers is being held at the Boston Convention and Expo Center, March 3rd - 6th. Our fearless leader, Chris DiBona, is giving the keynote; "Open Source is Magic". Geek herder extraordinaire, Leslie Hawthorn will be speaking about Google Summer Of Code 2008, and the results of GHOP, the Google Highly Open Participation Contest. Come on down!

There will also be Googlers 2 weeks later in Chicago at PyCon. Guido van Rossum is giving the opening Plenary Keynote on March 14th, "Python 3000 And You", and our Brian 'Fitz' Fitzpatrick will be also be giving a keynote later in the conference. There will be a number of us in attendance - please say hi.

We hope to see you there!

Moodle's Runner Ups

Thursday, February 28, 2008

You may remember that we featured the Drupal project's runner ups for the Google Highly Open Participation Contest (GHOP) last week. This week, we're delighted to showcase the accomplishments of some additional student participants, all of whom worked with the Moodle community.

Helen Foster, Moodle's Community Manager, writes:

Rowan Chakoumakos

In addition to creating eight video tutorials for Moodle and developing a database module preset, Rowan Chakoumakos' Moodle community involvement has been outstanding. Rowan has participated in forum discussions, reported bugs that he came across, and has made a great many documentation page edits. Furthermore, Rowan has even set up a site for hosting Moodle tutorials at

Szymon Kalasz

Szymon Kalasz has made a valuable contribution to the Polish Moodle community in translating Moodle documentation into Polish and improving the Polish language pack. Szymon has also internationalized the Jmol (molecular visualisation) filter and has created two video tutorials for Moodle.

Kevin Xu

Kevin Xu has shown real talent in creating entertaining, easy-to-follow video tutorials. In addition, Kevin has made worthwhile contributions to Moodle's documentation and has participated in forum discussions. Kevin has even designed a cool Web 2.0 Moodle logo.

Congratulations to Rowan, Szymon and Kevin, as well as all the rest of Moodle's GHOP students, for their many accomplishments!

Star Struck for Google Accounts

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In the past year, we've seen a lot of enhancement requests from you in our issue tracker for project hosting, and we can tell which issues are the most important to people by sorting them according to the number of times each issue has been starred. Last fall the most popular request by far was for us to support non-Gmail accounts (a.k.a "Google Accounts"), so we're no longer limiting project owners and members to Gmail accounts, and users can now use any email address with their project on Google Code. If you need to create a Google Account for your address, you can do that at the account creation page.

So keep starring those issues—not only will you receive issue updates via email, but it also tells us which bugs and enhancement requests are most important to you.

Google's Open Source Team Hosts Collective Intelligence Foo Camp

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

When I asked Hal Varian, Google's Chief Economist and UC Berkeley professor for his elevator definition of "collective intelligence", he replied, "People and computers collaborating." In conjunction with our colleagues at O'Reilly Media, this provocatively broad expanse of ideas brought together nearly 100 industry and research professionals for 2 days of wild and woolly conversation last week at the Googleplex in Mountain View. This was the kind of event where the visual aids used in sessions ranged from white-boards full of equations that describe adaptive market analysis technology to video clips showing the collective behavior of ant colonies.

At several points the participants were too busy talking to each other to go to - or end - sessions, which is the mark of a hugely successful conference in my book. Some of my personal favorite sessions were "Leveraging the Picky - getting users to clean data" lead by Coda Hale and Brian Donovan, "Legality of Prediction Markets" lead by Tom Bell, "Design Space for CI - (yin-yang, point-counterpoint)" lead by Hal Varian, and "Summing Collective Ignorance: Finding experts and avoiding the madness of crowds " lead by Greg Linds.

In short, lots of dynamic connections forged, interesting thoughts shared, and some laughs besides. You can learn more about the conference content at O'Reilly Radar.

Summer Already?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lately many folks have been asking us, "Are you going to hold Google Summer of Code again this year?" The answer is a resounding "Yes!" For full details on our program to introduce university students to open source development, check out the Google Summer of Code blog.

After the Summer, the Code Lives On

Friday, February 22, 2008

The first time I wrote a piece of code with the intention of making it open source was, like many other people, when I was still a student. As a project for a computer vision class, a classmate and I wrote a plugin for The GIMP to smart-generate textures.

Since this was just a project for college, I wasn't expecting very much from it except good marks, which we got. However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a lot of kind feedback from the GNOME community, and especially from happy users. I then realized that the community was one of the most important parts of the open source world, probably as important as the code itself. I certainly wouldn't have bothered to maintain and enhance this software, releasing a version 2.0 a few months later, if I didn't get all this feedback showing me that my code was actually useful to people out there.

So when Google announced their first "Summer of Code" program in 2005, I thought I'd give it a try, even though the competition looked pretty tough. I was, again, pleasantly surprised to be selected to work for Ubuntu.

This time I wasn't just coding alone or with a classmate - things got international! I spent a lot of time on IRC discussing my project, seeking advice from developers all around the world: French, German, Australian, American, Mexican, you name it, everyone was hanging around in the IRC channels. They were always kind and patient with my newbie questions, especially my mentor for this program, Sebastien Bacher. Interacting with the community was one of the best parts of this experience, along with writing code and designing user interfaces that would be used by everyone running Ubuntu. If you hate that dialog to add an applet to your panel, or the Ubuntu logout dialog, you now know whom to rant at!

I had so much fun that when Google announced they would have the same program in 2006, I applied again, and was pleasantly surprised yet again to be selected to work with the OLPC project. This time my mentor was none other than Federico Mena Quintero. Things were getting serious.

I decided to go to GUADEC 2006, GNOME's annual conference, so that I could meet Federico, and also Sebastien whom I hadn't had the chance to meet yet. It was really interesting to see all those familiar IRC nicknames suddenly transform into actual people and be able to communicate with them in ways more sophisticated than "/me pings seb128"! Here's a short video (about 10 minutes) explaining what I did during these two summers.

GUADEC also allowed me to discover a bit more about Google and find out that it looked like a really great company to work for... and here I am now, a few months later, working for Google! I must say it is as great as I had imagined. And even though I'm obviously busy enough with my main project, GMail, I have chosen to work on GNOME as my "20%" project. I thought it was the best thing to do given how much I have learned from Sebastien, Federico, and everyone in the open source community. See all of you soon on IRC!

Drupal's Runner-Ups

Thursday, February 21, 2008

As we mentioned last week, many of the mentoring organizations participating in the Google Highly Open Participation Contest had a difficult time choosing their Grand Prize Winners. All of our projects had stellar participants, and we're pleased to join them in sharing kudos with their unofficial "runner-ups."

Angela Byron and Adam Light from the Drupal project sent us these accolades:

Jimmy Berry

Jimmy Berry was a pleasure to work with over the course of GHOP. He has a real knack of coming in, tackling a difficult task that's been long-neglected (such as SimpleTest coverage for most of Drupal core, or the new Git back-end for our Version Control API module), and knocking it completely out of the park. Jimmy rocketed his way up the Drupal learning curve and is now one of our best new contributors.

Edward Yang

Edward Z. Yang already has open source development experience, as the developer for the HTML Purifier project. During his time with the Drupal project over the course of GHOP, he has shown a penchant for impeccable code quality, and takes incredible pride in his work, always going above and beyond (often way above and beyond) what has been asked for by the task description, as particularly evidenced by his work on the Coder Format module.

Charlie Gordon

If GHOP were based solely on community participation, Charlie Gordon would far and away take the prize. In addition to suggesting tasks and helping to answer other students' questions, he also spear-headed efforts to setup the Drupal community's successor to the GHOP contest, DROP. Oh yeah, and he also kicked butt on several GHOP coding tasks, and made very short work of everything from writing SimpleTests to porting Revision Moderation module to 6, and even creating and maintaining the new Citation Filter module.

Wilson Lee

Wilson Lee took on a wide variety of GHOP tasks ranging from documentation to code to marketing. Kourge did a particularly awesome job on a marketing
presentation for Drupal 6 (.zip) and a Core Hooks Cheatsheet (.zip) which will be of great use to Drupal module developers everywhere. Kourge was also frequently found in our IRC channels and helped other students find answers to their questions.

Dmitri G.

Dmitri G. was actually too *young* to participate in GHOP, being only 12 years old, so wasn't eligible to claim any tasks or prizes. However, he more than made up for that by helping to mentor and guide the GHOP students throughout the duration of the contest. So we'd like to name him as honorary GHOP runner-up.

Selenium Users Event Coming Up

Since the Google Test Automation Conference last year, it has been no secret that Google uses Selenium for functional testing of web applications. We've also constructed a Selenium farm for the distributed and speedy testing of select applications on a range of operating system and browser combinations. We all work at Google and contribute to the project in our 20% time, so we are proud to announce that we are hosting an open evening for users of Selenium at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA, USA on Monday, February 25th at 6:30 PM. If you are interested in using Selenium for web app testing and sharing your thoughts with other Agile developers, please join us for an evening of discussion, presentations and lightning talks. You'll hear from representatives of several Selenium projects, including Selenium core, Selenium Remote Control, Selenium IDE and Selenium Grid. Some of these folks will have come from as far afield as London and Tokyo, and we hope you'll take this opportunity to explore Selenium's future with them. Google's Open Source Team will be providing hors d'oeuvres and a delightful selection of soft drinks.

We hope to see you there. If you're planning to join us, please make sure to pre-register.

Dojo Dev Days at Google

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We recently hosted the Dojo Developer Day here at Google. Dojo is one of the leading open-source Ajax/JavaScript toolkits, and it was great getting to see many of the core Dojo contributors and users from around the country. Brad Neuberg, a Dojo contributor and Developer Advocate for Google Gears, had the following writeup:

Dojo Developer Day, also known as DDD, was a great success this year!

On day one we started with a rundown of successes from 2007: massive refactoring of Dojo into a much smaller, faster system; major improvements to accessibility and internationalization in Dijit, the Dojo widget system; and exciting new features around the Dojo Grid, charting libraries, Dojo.Data, and Dojo Offline.

After reviewing 2007 (including finding out about three new Dojo books coming out soon!), we moved on to setting direction for 2008 and Dojo 1.1, the next release. Every team member gave short updates on where their package is at and where they are going. James Burke of AOL showed off his work on allowing multiple versions of Dojo to work on the same page, while Bill Keese of IBM, Torrey Rice of SitePen, and Nikolai Onken gave us the lowdown on Dijit 1.1 and their improvements to the Dijit themes and look. I'm the module maintainer for Dojo Offline, Dojo Storage, and Dojo Flash, so checked in on the status of these and future directions; expect to see Dojo Flash and the Flash Storage Provider working again with the Dojo 1.0 architecture and a new release of Dojo Offline in the near-future (post Dojo 1.1 on both however).

Adam Peller at IBM showed us the new BorderContainer layout model that makes it easier to construct layouts, while Dustin Machi at SitePen revealed the exciting work he is doing on the JSON-RPC system. Neil Roberts of SitePen has ported Django's templating language to JavaScript (!), doing some nifty things around the build system to make it easy to use while efficient in production, while Eugene Lazutkin of SitePen continues to amaze us all with his cross-browser Dojo graphics work and charting APIs. Eugene expressed interest in playing around with Google Gears to create 2D and 3D Gears modules to make this stuff easier and more powerful; jump on the Google Gears developer mailing list to join the discussion and coding.

I could go on and on; there were so many great checkins and exciting developments on just the first day that I can't list them all here; Alex Russell has an in-depth blog post that goes into the nitty-gritty of all the great work everyone did.

The rest of DDD day one and two were dedicated to demos of cool applications folks are building using Dojo, including a new version of AOL MailTM based on Dojo, and serious code hacking during the day to fix Dojo bugs. I spent much of the time during the hackathon refactoring Dojo Flash to work again (it regressed when we jumped from Dojo 0.4 to Dojo 0.9). It's always great to get to work face-to-face with all the names I see fly by on the Dojo mailing lists and Subversion checkins. Thanks to everyone for making DDD a success!

First time to Dojo? Want to be a collaborator and Dojo contributor? Check out the free online Dojo Book and our Contributor Guidelines and mailing lists.

Spring Comes Early for Oxford Geeks

Friday, February 15, 2008

As the January blues began to lift, web developers, designers, neophiles, hardware hackers and hardcore programmers all descended on a local Oxford pub last night for the first in 2008’s Oxford Geek Nights (OGNs). Thanks to Google's drinks sponsorship the atmosphere at the Jericho Tavern was warmer and more convivial than the chilly February evening outside.

The OGNs are semi-formal evenings consisting of alternating speakers and chat. People interested in the web, new technology, beautiful design, or fascinating ideas can get together and be inspired by the event. Last night we began with two fascinating keynote speakers: Rufus Pollock from the Open Knowledge Foundation talked about how the techniques behind distributed software projects might help us crack open the vast silos of information already available on the web; and Denise Wilton from Moo explained how to establish a character for your website, paying careful attention to exactly how you want your visitors to see you, and how to establish consistency of tone.

After some announcements from local groups (discussing among other things the mooted Barcamp Oxford), and another break for the thirsty (courtesy again of Google's Open Source Team), we began our microslots. These are less formal, five-minute talks that anyone can volunteer for, in the weeks leading up to the event. We heard some really interesting talks from such as: Tom “Carbon” Dyson, technical director at Torchbox (the OGN’s other major sponsor), discussing development of CO2 emissions accounting software; Jon “Firefox” Hicks on the fundamentals of icon design; and Andrew “Who Should You Vote For?” Chapman, who treated us to some lessons learned from going viral.

To a still-full house of happy geeks, we ended the night with a raffle of books from Friends of ED, and a brief look forwards to OGN6, planned for mid-April. Everyone present seemed to have a great night, and we'd love for you to join us whenever you're in the neighborhood. If this post hasn't got you convinced, you might want to check out the video from


Full talks are available as always on the OGN website.

We Love the Community: Plone Strategic Planning Summit 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day to all those celebrating it!

The Open Source Team has hosted many community events over the past two years here at Google HQ. This past weekend, we were privileged to host our friends from the Plone CMS project (open source content management) once again.

Alexander Limi, the Plone project's co-founder and Google User Experience Designer, sent us this write-up of the summit:

Plotting the Future - PSPS 2008

On February 8-10, a cross-section of the Plone Community that included users, integrators, industry experts and hardcore developers from around the world gathered at Google's headquarters in Mountain View for the first Plone Strategic Planning Summit (PSPS). Working under the California sun, the group ignored their laptops and used decidedly old-school technologies such as flip charts, dot stickers and multi-coloured markers — to brainstorm, talk and dream about the future of Plone in a way that rarely happens in open source.

Plone Strategic Summiters

The first day was lead by summit organizer Jon Stahl and marketing guru Mark Corum. Through a series of exercises, they got the participants to think about and identify the markets and audiences Plone serves, what its strengths and weaknesses are and how it should be positioned relative to other content management systems - both open source and commercial. The outcomes will form the basis of a professional marketing package that will help the Plone community sell itself, and aid those who sell Plone services in effectively communicating what Plone is, as well as when and where it is an appropriate solution.

The theme of the second day was “approachability”: How can we make it easier for new integrators and developers to get started with Plone? How can we ensure that these people feel that they are part of the Plone community, and empowered to make suggestions and voice their concerns? Through focused brainstorming, a panel discussion and a bit of creative shuffling around the room, the group was able to identify "pain points" and identify workable solutions. These were then turned into actions that the participants voted on to highlight the ones most worthy of attention. One "champion" was assigned to each action, with a mandate to solicit input from the community, cheerlead the efforts and follow up to make sure that the underlying issue is addressed.

On the final day of the Summit, a special guest star dropped by — Jonathan Wilde, the Grand Prize winner for Plone's entry in the Google Highly Open Participation Contest, who happened to live nearby. A few jaws dropped as they realized this 14-year old had produced four high-quality themes and two new Plone portlets in just a few days, a feat that many in the audience with years of experience admitted they would be unable to repeat. His themes will be used in the near future as high-quality examples of how to make Plone look different, one of the many actions that came out of the summit.

Jonathan got a poster signed by all the attendees, and his mom beamed from the back of the room as he answered technical questions about his work and made suggestions about changes he would like to see in Plone. Whether Jonathan becomes the next Plone rock star remains to be seen - but the Plone community would certainly like to see more of him! What could be a better symbol of approachability than a high school student who taught himself Plone and made a significant contribution to the community on his first attempt?

Front Row: Plone's GHOP Grand Prize Winner, Jonathan Wilde, with his mother, Constance Kobylarz & Alexander Limi
Back Row: Leslie Hawthorn & Martin Aspelli, Plone Lead Developer

Ed. Note: Both photos courtesy of Mark Corum.

Google Sponsors Wine Improvements

As you may know, Google uses Wine to implement Linux support for Picasa. Beyond that, Google has been supporting Wine in several other ways.

Perhaps the biggest news is that we hired Codeweavers to make Photoshop CS and CS2 work better under Wine. Photoshop is one of those applications that Desktop linux users are constantly clamoring for, and we're happy to say they work pretty well now. Perhaps not coincidentally, apps like Flash 8 are now starting to work in Wine, too. We look forward to further improvements in this area.

For more about what we've been doing, see my post to wine-devel and/or visit our list of Google Wine patches.

Share and enjoy!

The Meme Keeps Spreading: Finnish Summer Code

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Finnish Summer Code 2007 project employed five university students for the summer. Google's Open Source Team was one of the sponsors of the students' projects. The Finnish Summer Code is organised by COSS (The Finnish Centre for Open Source Solutions) and aims to help Finnish students participate in open source development.

Here is a quick run-down of the coders and their projects:

Janne Kalliomäki - KBackup

KBackup is a fresh project started by Janne himself to act as a Qt4-based front-end to the command line-interfaced backup-manager software. The software includes a wizard mode for creating an original configuration file and a tab based interface to edit existing one. A cron scheduling connection is also used.

Niko Kiirala - Inkscape

Niko Kiirala worked on the most advanced open source scalable vector graphics software, Inkscape's graphical filters, including feBlend-, feOffset, feTurbulence and feComposite, to name but a few. He also worked on rewriting the filter rendering engine and mentored two new Inkscape coders.

Ville Lindholm - Exaile

Ville Lindholm got to grips with Exaile, a python/GTK2 based audio player. His accomplishments include adding support for connecting to two new CD burning software and improvements and the addition of both CD ripping and audio file tag editing. As a final touch Ville improved Exaile's loading times with large audio libraries.

Tomi Rikkola - JBoss Rules

Toni Rikkola worked on JBoss Drules: a part of JBoss used to separate business logic from infrastructure and presentation logic and on Rules Analytic Mode, which is a tool made for the people who write the rules. Improving Drools involved improving the model for testing rules and test output, and unit testing of the rules themselves, but also incorporated the metadata model.

Ville-Pekka Vainio - MoinMoin

MoinMoin is a Python based wiki software. Man and info are used by multiple Unix-based software projects as the end-user documentation format. For open source projects easy editing of documentation is vital, and wiki techniques make the process faster and more transparent. Ville-Pekka's project concentrated on importing DocBook XML format to MoinMoin wiki format, implementing sisterdiff and getting documentation from version control system and RPM software packages.

You can learn more about last year's projects from Paul Sladen's article at

The Finnish Summer Code is back again this summer, and Finnish students are welcome to apply now for 2008!

Announcing the Grand Prize Winners for the Google Highly Open Participation Contest

Monday, February 11, 2008

When we announced GHOP, we were excited to perform an experiment to see how many secondary schoolers would be interested in spending a few weeks contributing to open source development. We're pleased to say that the results far exceeded our expectations - over 350 students worldwide came together to complete nearly 1,000 tasks to help improve open source. You can learn a bit more about the results of the contest from these charts; just click on the image to enlarge it.

Many thanks to Pawel Solyga for creating these charts for us.

We've spent the last week corralling our colleagues from the ten participating free and open source projects and today we're pleased to announce our ten Grand Prize Winners, each of whom will receive a trip to Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, USA later this year for an Awards Ceremony and day of FLOSS and fun, Google-style. Our winners hail from all corners of the globe, from the West and East Coasts of the United States to Poland, South Africa and Thailand.

One final note, we heard nearly universally from the projects participating that choosing a Grand Prize Winner was quite difficult for them. In most cases, all of their student participants completely exceeded their expectations and produced work of amazingly high quality. We want to extend our thanks and congratulations to all participants in GHOP. We look into featuring the stories of some of these "runner up" students on this blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more news.

Congratulations to all our Grand Prize Winners, and many thanks to their mentors for helping us make GHOP possible!

Google Sponsors Freedom Training Task Force

Friday, February 8, 2008

My name's Shane Coughlan and I'm a coordinator at Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), the European sister of the United States based Free Software Foundation. The FSFE is involved in a whole range of activities, ranging from organizing grassroots meetings to representing the case for software freedom before the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Internet Governance Forum.

I manage the Freedom Task Force, a project inside the FSFE that provides Free Software licence education, training and consultancy. Among other activities, the FTF manages a pan-European network of legal experts and works extensively with to resolve licensing issues. In a nutshell, it's our job to build infrastructure that encourages free software adoption and fair use.

Recently Google made a contribution to help us deliver training courses, attend conferences and translate documentation into more languages. Like all NGOs we have limited resources and Google's assistance makes a significant difference. I'd like to thank the Open Source Programs Office for believing in what we do and for making it possible for us to continue this work.

If you would like to learn more about the FTF please drop us a line or visit our website. You can also keep an eye open for me at conferences. I'm always glad to have a chat and, catering tent permitting, a coffee with chocolate biscuits.

Project Hosting Just Keeps on Growing

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's been about a year and a half since we launched project hosting on Google Code, and we're now home to over 80,000 projects. From small two-person projects to projects with dozens of contributors, we've got all kinds: utilities, javascript libraries, gadgets, University CS classes, hundreds of Google's own open source projects, and many more.

We continue to work to add more features as well as improve the scalability and reliability of the Google Code hosting service, and in order to keep you more up to date with what we're up to, we've setup shop here in the new Google Open Source blog. You can expect to see posts here that cover new features and bugfixes, reviews of Open Source engineering best practices, and other bits and bobs that we think are relevant to open source software development.

So stay tuned—2008 is looking to be a great year for us.

Welcome to the Google Open Source Blog

Three years and some 320 posts ago, we launched the blog with a post detailing (with too many exclamation points) that we had released some 4 programs kicking off what was to become a very popular blog and an even more important site. Today, has grown to hundreds of thousands of pages, we've released millions of lines of code from Google here, and we are hosting tens of thousands of projects for the larger community of open source developers.

We didn't want to be overbearing with the posts tagged open source on the main blog, so we decided to spin out into our own blog, which is what you are now reading. It was certainly time. We looked at the upcoming posts coming out of our group and knew that to post all of them on the main blog would be excessive for those who don't live and breathe open source software like we do.

Google uses a vast amount of open source software from the operating system level on up, and it is our intention to be a good example of how a company of any size can interact with the outside world of open source developers. Google uses, patches, and release open source software almost every day. We host tens of thousands of open source projects here on Code, and we have created thousands of new open source developers through the Summer of Code and its high school cousin, GHOP. We've released literally millions of lines of code over the last three years and we do all of this to be as good a friend to the open source world as the world of open source developers have been to all computer science and the internet.

As dopey as it might sound, this blog is about celebrating that friendship, and hopefully by doing so, continue to deserve all that code that is so useful to all of us. Join us. Subscribe.