I got my beta invite for Google Mashup Editor yesterday and I think its a really exciting technology. GME is the first Beta product from Google that I’ve tried that really lives up to the Beta tag, but this is my ‘earliest adoption’ so that can only be expected.
I’m a little reticent to call this a review because I’ve done very little with GME so far but it has so many excellent ideas wrapped up in one package I can’t resist.
So, to start at the end. Even the most basic mashup output by GME has 2 brilliant features: View Source and Sign In.
View (Server Side) Source
It’s been said and I strongly agree that the nature of the web is inherently open source due to the pervasive ‘View Source’ button. Until now that source has been just the final rendered output of server side code. However if you look at my (rather basic) example, you can view the source of the server side code. I think this is an excellent concept. Although it may not end up being as pervasive as traditional View Source functionality due to Intellectual Property rights and other restrictions.
Google Sign In
Sign in is built in from the ground up. This has been the goal of many company’s in the past; Microsoft’s Passport, Sxip and more recently OpenID are all examples that have failed to go viral. I can’t say that Google’s effort will be more succesful but they have struck the nail on the head technically by offering every human involved in an application the same login mechanisim from developer to administrator right up to user.
The Bigger Picture
Some of you may be thinking that developer, admin and user are all that could be involved in a google mashup and that for something as simple as a mashup an administrator is not even needed. And you’d be right, but I think there is a bigger picture. If we look at the web development space right now here’s a gross simplification of how an idea become a business
- (Bang!) Idea
- [Decide to Implement]
- Choose a Technology Stack
- Choose a Language
- Choose a Web Server
- Choose an IDE
- Choose a CVS implementation
- Write some code
- Check it in
- Maybe merge it
- Repeat previous steps as needed
- Label and Build
- FTP to server
- Organize DNS records
- Promote your site
- Users log in
- Users spend money
- Users view Ads
- You scale to meet customer demand
- Hardware costs force you to seek Loans, Venture and finally IPO
GME offers the possibility of a unified web platform for steps 3 to 10 and 13. Google sell 11, 12, 14 and 15 as services which you could tie in easily. Scaling your site can mean more disk space, more processing power or more bandwidth. 3 things that Google manage very well. For a large swathe of development scenarios services like S3 and the elastic compute cloud would be blown out of the water by a Unified Google Development Platform.
It would be naive to think that implementing a new stack for web development would be easy or that it would suit everyone or that it could be made popular. But there is definitely a gap in the market between web configurable applications and custom written application that could be filled.
Anyway thats enough hyperbole for one morning. More on GME soon.