With all of the excitement around Google Developer Day, we didn't have a chance to tell you about a subtle point regarding the launch of the Google Mashup Editor: the editor's front-end was built using the Google Web Toolkit (GWT). Given that, we invited Rich Burdon, Tech Lead of the Google Mashup Editor team, to write a post detailing why they chose to develop using GWT. Here's Rich:
At Google Developer Day, we launched the Google Mashup Editor -- a quick way to build simple applications. The Mashup Editor lets you create mashups without having to do much coding; instead, you use standard HTML and extended tags, which correspond to UI controls that can display and manipulate RSS, Atom and GData feeds.
The product consists of three parts:
- The Mashup Editor, which is itself an AJAX application.
- A server-side hosting framework, which provides developer services (e.g., source code management via Google Code project hosting) and mashup services such as Google Base and a data store that can be accessed via feeds.
- Tools matter. As a veteran of the long-ago vi versus emacs debates, it's interesting to see the same enthusiasm go into the Eclipse vs. IntelliJ IDE arguments. Whichever side you're on (I fought for the latter in both cases, but we have members of both camps on our team), tools can make a huge difference in terms of developer productivity. You used to think twice before refactoring a large component that needed attention; having the tool take care of these kinds of complicated, repetitive (and error-prone) tasks makes life easier and can lead to better quality.
- The client is only half the story. Both the Mashup Editor and the resulting mashups themselves interact with Google services; being able to code both sides of a remote method call in the same language has some obvious benefits. Aside from the relative simplicity afforded by the GWT RPC mechanism, both client and server components can share constant definitions and in some cases, simple functions.
Of course, the other huge benefit of open systems (and especially open source projects) is learning from the collective wisdom of everyone who uses the technology. And so we're looking forward to incorporating the ongoing developments of GWT within the Mashup Editor.
Interested in playing around with the Google Mashup Editor? Head over to its homepage to sign up for the limited beta, and then check out our mashup gallery and developer forum for sample mashups built by the community.