Posted:
Author Picture By Ashleigh Rentz, Google Developers Blog Editor Emerita

It’s been two months since we wrapped up Google I/O 2012, and there’s been no shortage of topics for Google’s developer advocates to discuss with the community afterward! Google Developers Live opens the door to two-way communication all year long by hosting online office hours sessions, but it also offers other viewing opportunities like interviews with community figures and tech-centric reviews of Android games. With over 100 new episodes recorded for posterity since I/O, chances are good that we’ve all missed something fascinating. Why not flip backward through the events calendar this weekend and see what’s been happening in our studios?

While our own cameras are focused on earthly developers, NASA has their sights on the skies. This week, astronomers discovered a new binary star system with multiple planets circling those stars. One of these planets with two suns is even within the habitable zone. It may not be in a galaxy far far away, but the similarities to Tatooine are still fun to speculate on.

Finally, this week’s addition of bicycle navigation to Google Maps for Android is welcome news to we pedal-powered commuters, but the stakes have been raised... A team at University of Maryland recently built a new human-powered helicopter, and videos of the test flights are now making the rounds on YouTube. It’ll be an awesome day when Google Maps helps me find my way to work pedaling one of those!


Each week, we bring you a Fridaygram full of interesting things that help keep your weekend geekarific. Ashleigh is our editor emerita who comes back to visit when Scott takes some time away from the office. This week, we join many others around the world in saying a somber farewell to Neil Armstrong, an inspiration to us all.

Posted:
Author Picture By Jyrki Alakuijala, WebP Team

At Google, we are constantly looking at ways to make web pages load faster. One way to do this is by making web images smaller. This is especially important for mobile devices where smaller images save both bandwidth and battery life. Earlier this month, we released version 0.2 of the WebP library that adds support for lossless and transparency modes to compress images. This version provides CPU and memory performance comparable to or better than PNG, yet results in 26% smaller files.

WebP’s improved compression comes from advanced techniques such as dedicated entropy codes for different color channels, exploiting 2D locality of backward reference distances and a color cache of recently used colors. This complements basic techniques such as dictionary coding, Huffman coding and color indexing transform. We think that we've only scratched the surface in improving compression. Our newly added support for alpha transparency with lossy images promises additional gains in this space, helping make WebP an efficient replacement for PNG.

The new WebP modes are supported natively in the latest Beta version of Chrome. The bit stream specification for these new WebP modes has been finalized and the container specification has been updated. We thank the community for their valuable feedback and for helping us evolve WebP as a new image compression format for the web. We encourage you to try these new compression methods on your favorite set of images, check out the code, and continue to provide feedback.

Dr. Jyrki Alakuijala is a Software Engineer with a special interest in data compression. He is a father of five daughters, and sings in the Finnish Choir in Zürich. Before joining Google, Jyrki worked in neurosurgical and radiotherapy development.

Posted by Ashleigh Rentz, Editor Emerita

Posted:
Author Photo
By Ryan Boyd, Developer Advocate for Cloud Data Services

Businesses and developers are using BigQuery to solve a wide variety of use cases – from optimizing advertising campaigns, to spotting inventory shortfalls, to understanding customer behavior. Accommodating these varied use cases requires BigQuery to be flexible, both for the developers integrating applications with the API and for the analysts running ad-hoc queries. Today we’ve made it more flexible by adding batch queries and a connector for Microsoft Excel.

Batch priority queries

BigQuery was designed for ad-hoc, iterative analytics on millions-to-billions of rows of data. When you’re diving into your data to gain insights, you want your queries to run in seconds rather than waiting minutes or hours. Sometimes our customers don’t need these fast responses when they’re running nightly jobs to update dashboards or reports, but want to use the same BigQuery technology and underlying datasets for these queries. We’ve now added batch pricing to accommodate these developers, allowing them to run their queries at a significantly lower cost.

Here’s how to set the priority to ‘batch’ when submitting a new query via the Google APIs Client Library for Java:
    Job job = new Job();
    JobConfiguration config = new JobConfiguration();
   JobConfigurationQuery queryConfig = new JobConfigurationQuery();
   config.setQuery(queryConfig);

   job.setConfiguration(config);
   queryConfig.setQuery(querySql);
   
queryConfig.setPriority("BATCH");
   com.google.api.services.bigquery.Bigquery.Jobs.Insert insert =      bigquery.jobs().insert(projectId, job);
Batch queries will execute between 30 minutes and 3 hours after they are submitted. See more information in our Developers Guide.

BigQuery Connector for Excel

Spreadsheets are a popular tool for analysts, executives and and developers to explore data. Last year we launched the ability for users of Google Spreadsheets to execute BigQuery queries using the Google Apps Script integration. Today, we’re launching the BigQuery Connector for Excel, which allows Microsoft Excel users to do the same with the ‘External Data’ functionality built into the product. Once the BigQuery results are in Excel, you can easily make pivot tables, create charts and integrate it with data from other sources. If you’re interested, you can try it right now!

Let us know what you think of these new features and what else you’d like to see in the roadmap by reaching out on Google+. We’ll also be holding office hours this Friday at 10 AM PDT on Google Developers Live to talk about these new features and answer any questions you have about BigQuery.

Microsoft and Excel are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation


Ryan Boyd is a Developer Advocate, focused on cloud data services. He's been at Google for 6 years and previously helped build out the Google Apps ISV ecosystem. He published his first book "Getting Started with OAuth 2.0" with O'Reilly.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Posted:
Author Photo
By Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

A couple of weeks ago, Google for Entrepreneurs teamed up with Startup Weekend to help U.S. military veterans and service members who are starting businesses. Why work with veterans on startups? In addition to it being a nice thing to do, veterans own about 13.5% of all U. S. small businesses, so they’re great entrepreneurs. These enterprises are not just technical companies, but include all sorts of businesses, including PubCakes (cupcakes and craft beer) and Precious Paw Prints (wacky stuff for pets).

Military applications are just one idea for a robot that can change its external coloring. A research team created a robot with synthetic "skin" and dye-filled "veins" that can change its appearance. One possible application is search missions, where the chameleon ability can be used to make the robot easy to spot on different backgrounds.

Finally, there’s something amazing happening almost every day with the Mars Curiosity rover. This week Curiosity took its first drive around the Martian surface, which was a huge milestone. As Peter Theisinger of NASA JPL wisely noted, "We built a rover. So unless the rover roves, we really haven't accomplished anything."


Each week our Fridaygram presents cool things from Google and elsewhere that you might not have heard about. Some Fridaygram items aren't related to developer topics, but all of them are interesting to us nerds. Mmm, PubCakes.

Posted:
Author Photo By Nick Mihailovski, Google Analytics API Team

Cross-posted with the Google Analytics Blog and the Google Apps Developer Blog

Many people have been asking for a simple way to put Google Analytics data into a Google Spreadsheet. Once the data is inside a Google Spreadsheet, users can easily manipulate Google Analytics data, create new visualizations, and build internal dashboards.

So today we released a new integration that dramatically reduces the work required to put Google Analytics data into any Apps Script supported product, such as Google Docs, Sites, or Spreadsheets.

Here’s an example of Google Analytics data accessed through Apps Script and displayed in a Google Spreadsheet.

Custom API Dashboards - No Code Required

We know that a popular use case of this integration will be to create dashboards that automatically update. To make this easy to do, we’ve added a script to the Spreadsheets script gallery that handles all this work - no code required. The script is called Google Analytics Report Automation (Magic).

This script is a great template for starting your own project, and we’ve had many internal Google teams save hours of time using this tool. Here’s a video demoing how to build a dashboard using this script:

You can find this script by opening or creating a Google Spreadsheet, clicking Tools -> Script Gallery and searching for “analytics magic”.

Writing Your Own Script

Of course many developers will want to write their own code. With the new Analytics – Apps Script integration, you can request the total visitors, visits, and pageviews over time and put this data into a spreadsheet with just the following code:

// Get Data.
var results = Analytics.Data.Ga.get(
    tableId,
    startDate,
    endDate,
    'ga:visitors,ga:visits,ga:pageviews',
    {‘dimensions’: ‘ga:date’});

// Output to spreadsheet.
var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet().insertSheet();
sheet.getRange(2, 1, results.getRows().length, headerNames.length)
    .setValues(results.getRows());

// Make Sandwich.

To get started now, read our Automated Access to Google Analytics Data in Google Spreadsheets tutorial. Also check out the Google Analytics Apps Script reference docs.

Solving Business Problems

Are you ready to start building solutions using Google Analytics and Google Apps Script?

We’d love to hear new ways you use this integration to help manipulate, visualize and present data to solve business problems. To encourage you to try out this integration, we are giving out Google Analytics developer t-shirts to the first 15 developers to build a solution using both APIs.

To be eligible, you must publish your solution to either the Chrome Web Store or the Spreadsheets Script Gallery and include a description of a business problem the script solves. We’ll then collect these scripts and highlight the solutions in an upcoming blog post. After you publish your script, fill out this form to share what you’ve built.

We’re looking forward to seeing what you can do with this integration.



Nick Mihailovski is a Senior Developer Programs Engineer working on the Google Analytics API. In his spare time he likes to travel around the world.


Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Posted:
Author Photo
By Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

Fumi Yamazaki is Google Developer Relations Lead in Japan. About a year ago, she noticed that few women developers were attending developer events, so she decided to do something about it. Fumi and several female developers organized GTUG Girls to foster a community of women developers in Japan.

GTUG Girls logo

Earlier today, Fumi posted about GTUG Girls on her blog. The post contains lots of great tips and tidbits about what has happened with GTUG Girls over the past year. Fumi’s post includes some of the group’s principles, such as teach each other, create something, and have fun. Most importantly the post offer tips on how to replicate the success of GTUG Girls in other countries. Go for it!

Summer vacation time in the Northern Hemisphere is winding down, but there’s still time left for some great activities, including another week of Maker Camp. Every day of Maker Camp brings a new project. Friday is field trip day, and today’s trip was to CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider. If you’ve missed Maker Camp so far, visit +MAKE to see recorded hangouts and other cool stuff.

Finally, and speaking of catching up, spend some time reading the Cow Week posts over at Boing Boing. You will never look at dairy products the same way again.


Each week our Fridaygram presents cool things from Google and elsewhere that you might not have heard about. Some Fridaygram items aren't related to developer topics, but all of them are interesting to us nerds. Huge thanks to my wonderful cow-orkers Liz Markman, Van Riper, and Fumi Yamazaki for their help with this week’s post.

Posted:
Author PhotoBy Rania Hadi, MENA Outreach Manager

View post in Arabic on the Google Arabia Blog

At Google worldwide, there are always new activities for the communities we work with and at Google MENA, we try to keep up the pace. From g|days to Google Developer Group meetups, to the Google Apps Developer Challenge (hurry and get your submissions in!), we are always looking for ways to engage with people who are as passionate about technology as we are. For our developers in MENA, we have some good news: registration is now open for the Google Tech Workshop – Tunisia 2012.


The Tech Workshop will take place at the City of Sciences in Tunis on September 22 and 23, and we are looking for the best and brightest developers, programmers and tech geeks from Tunisia to join and learn about topics we love: Google App Engine, Google APIs, Mobile Development, HTML5, Google Web Toolkit, Google Webmaster Tools, Arabic Web Content, User Experience, and Product Development & Design. We’ll post the full agenda soon so check back for event updates and Google+ posts.

To make these sessions as useful as possible, they will be hands-on and interactive, so bring your laptops. As usual, space is limited and we’ll invite those with the best applications, so register now and we will inform you of the status of your application by September 10.

The Google Tech Workshop isn’t just about us, though! I can’t wait to meet the tech community in Tunisia and learn about your projects, so please share what you are working on, using the #gtwtunisia hashtag. If you have submitted an entry for the Google Apps Developer Challenge, and it reaches semi-finals, you’ll have an opportunity to present your work at the Google Tech Workshop.

So get ready for two technology-packed days, and I look forward to seeing you in Tunis!


Rania Hadi has been with Google since 2004 and now works on Outreach in the Middle East and North Africa. She focuses on building relationships and promoting Google technologies with the developer and tech communities.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Posted:
Deroy
Sergio

This guest post is by Sergio Alvarez, Vizzuality, and Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt, in collaboration with Min Li Chan, Chrome Team

At Google I/O this year, we launched a new version of The Evolution of the Web, a project visualizing the history and pace of innovation in web technologies and browsers. The Evolution of the Web traces how web technologies have evolved in the last two decades and highlights the web community’s continuous efforts to improve the web platform and enable developers to create new generations of immersive web experiences. In collaboration with the Google Chrome team, the team at Hyperakt designed the interactive visualization while Vizzuality built it using HTML5, SVG, and CSS3.


The visualization included 43 web technology "strands" across 7 browser timelines to represent major developments on the web platform. On hover or tap, each strand is highlighted to reveal intersections that tell the story of when browser support was implemented for each new web technology. To provide additional context, we developed a secondary visualization to illustrate the growth of Internet users and traffic.


In addition, this year's design includes the option for viewing the visualization in both day and night mode, making it ideal for large-screen projection.


For the teams working on this site, it was interesting to note that we used roughly 60% of the technologies highlighted in the timeline to build this visualization:
  • We used HTML5, SVG, and canvas to draw the visualization, alongside CSS3 transforms, rotation, and perspective for immersive animation and data interaction.
  • We used CSS3 to kick off the timeline with a 3D-like animation, as well as the panning and zooming functions, toggling between day and night modes.
  • Additionally, we took advantage of the D3 JavaScript library’s interaction and visual frameworks.
In working closely with the Chrome team, we tested multiple approaches to find the best way to bring to life initial design concepts and build a sleek, responsive visualization. In fact, during the project's development, the Vizzuality team came across an SVG rendering issue that prevented the animation from running smoothly. The Chrome team looked into this bug immediately and promptly enabled a fix the following day – a glimpse at the web evolving in real-time, if you will!

We're amazed at how much the web has advanced over the last several years, and the pace of development is only accelerating. Never in the web's history has it been as exciting to be a designer or web developer, and we hope that this visualization captures some of that spirit.


Deroy Peraza is a founding partner and creative director at Hyperakt, a New York City design firm that helps change-makers tell their stories. He was born in Havana, Cuba, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jenna and his son Luco.

Sergio Alvarez is co-founder and lead designer at Vizzuality and CartoDB, a NYC-based company working on data analysis and visualization on stories that matter, such as climate change or biodiversity loss. He is a good runner and loves to ride his long board.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Posted:
Author PhotoBy Sam McCall, Software Engineer

Ever since we launched Dart, the structured web programming language, we've heard developers asking for a way to use Dart to connect to Google's most popular APIs and services. Thanks to Google's 20% time policy, I’m working on an open source library that helps Dart developers connect to Google APIs such as Google+, YouTube, URL Shortener, and many more.

My favorite sample showing you how to build web apps with Dart and Google APIs is roulette. This little app will shorten your URL, or if you're lucky, rickroll you.

This library is currently alpha and under active development. Please report all bugs in the issue tracker and ask questions in the discussion forum. Thanks for the feedback, and have fun!


Sam McCall is an engineer in Google’s Corporate Engineering Team in Munich, and is a part-time Dart tinkerer.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Posted:
Author Photo
By Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

As regular Fridaygram readers might recall, Street View isn’t just for streets anymore. Street View Special Collections provide panoramic images of cool locations from Antarctica to World Heritage sites. This week we launched Street View images for Kennedy Space Center as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. With this collection, you can visit the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building without leaving your couch, view a Space Shuttle engine from very close range, and pretend you’re pushing the buttons as you look at Launch Firing Room #4.



In other news involving launches and space stuff, Russia’s space program this week accomplished the feat of docking a cargo ship at the International Space Station less than six hours after it launched from Earth. This technology might be expanded to future Soyuz flights, which include crews. With the fast docking, the crews would be more comfortable (or really, would be uncomfortable for shorter times) and would require fewer supplies before arriving at their destination.

It’s a good thing space is so big, because it’s a busy place. Coming up late Sunday or early Monday, depending on where on Earth you are, the Mars Rover Curiosity is scheduled to make a dramatic landing on the red planet. You can follow along on NASA's site as the landing progresses. Finally, we’ll find out how the Martians feel about our flying saucer landing on their planet.


Each week our Fridaygram presents cool things from Google and elsewhere that you might have missed. Fridaygram items aren't necessarily related to developer topics; they're just interesting to us nerds.

Posted:
Kishore
Rahul
By Rahul Bansal and Kishore Simbili, PageSpeed Team

We spend a lot of time working to make the web faster. Last year, we introduced PageSpeed Service, an online service that automatically speeds up loading of web pages.

We are constantly working on new optimizations (rewriters) that can make pages load even faster. Along these lines, we are introducing a new rewriter called "Cache and Prioritize Visible Content". This rewriter enables users to start interacting with the web page and consuming the content much sooner. It accomplishes this by optimizing the page as a whole using the following web page-aware techniques and with minimal configuration needed:
  • Make HTML cacheable. Typically, most web pages are not cached because they contain small amounts of personalized information or other non-cacheable data. This rewriter separates the non-cacheable portions from the HTML and enables caching for the rest of the content on PageSpeed servers. When the page is loaded, PageSpeed servers send the cacheable parts immediately while non-cacheable parts are fetched from the origin server & patched into the browser later.
  • Prioritize visible content rendering. Rendering of a modern web page requires several network resources, but not all of them are needed right away. This rewriter automatically determines and prioritizes the content that is above the fold of the browser, so that it doesn’t have to compete with the rest of the page.
  • Defer Javascript. JavaScript execution is deferred until page load so that it doesn’t block rendering of visible content.

Early deployment of these techniques has shown significant improvements in user-perceived page load times. Below is a filmstrip view that compares the loading of pages on Power Line, a US-based political commentary website.


Joe Malchow, Publisher of Power Line says "With this rewriter the most important bytes, our content, load first and fast. To our readers, Power Line appears to be completely instantaneous, prompting deeper and lengthier reading sessions and more profound engagement with the site."

This rewriter works best when the page content is mostly generated on the server rather than via Javascript and only small portions of it are personalized. To see how this rewriter would benefit your site, you can check it out here. If you are satisfied with the results, you can sign up for PageSpeed Service here. If you already use PageSpeed Service, you can find more details about enabling this rewriter here. This rewriter will also be available to App Engine users of PageSpeed Service in the near future.


Rahul Bansal and Kishore Simbili are Software Engineers on Google’s PageSpeed Team in Bangalore, India, which is dedicated to making the web faster.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Posted:
Author Picture
By Carlos Cuesta, Google Maps API Product Marketing Manager

Cross-posted with the Google Geo Developers Blog

How would you make your community or local government run better? In our first Google Places API Developer Challenge, we’re inviting developers around the world to make something that improves their communities or governments by using the Google Places API and its database of places and tools. The developers of the winning applications will receive a VIP experience at Google I/O 2013.

You might create an app or site that solves health problems, understands crime patterns, or improves commerce. You can use any platform as long as you build with the Google Places API and it benefits your community or government. We’re looking for your best and most innovative ideas.



Built on the comprehensive global database of more than 95 million places that powers Google Maps, the Google Places API enables you to search for information about a variety of nearby places such as establishments, geographic locations and prominent points of interest. You can re-rank place results based on user check-ins, and create new places specific to your app.

To help you develop your ideas and build better apps, we’ve been working with local government officials in Austin, Boston, Chicago, London, Louisville, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle along with the White House to surface a wide variety of data sets for your apps. You can find these data sets and more on the Google Places API Challenge site at http://developers.google.com/challenge and hear more about what cities have to say about the challenge here. You can also follow updates and hangouts about the challenge on +Google Maps API.

The submission window opens on August 15th and closes on October 31st, 2012.

We look forward to seeing what can happen when your imagination and the Google Places API come together!


Carlos Cuesta is the Product Marketing Manager for Google Maps API. He also enjoys travelling, photography, and collecting vinyl.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor