Google Opens Developer Network

Google launched a developers’ site, offering up code to the open source community.

Following the familiar developers’ network model, the opener for Google Code includes software source code developers are invited to use, as well a directory of Google APIs and an online forum for discussion and peer support.

Code for four debugging or optimization tools is available: CoreDumper, for creating core dumps of a running program without terminating it; Sparse Hashtable contains hash-map implementations; Goopy/Functional, is a library for Python, the open-source object-oriented programming language; and Perftools can be used to make C++ applications more robust.

According to Google’s own Blog, the tools were created by company engineers on their “20 percent time.” The company lets employees spend that portion of their working hours on projects that are personally interesting. According to Google legend, many of Google’s beta services, including its Orkut social networking and Gmail Web mail, began as personal projects.

The code posted isn’t exactly central to Google, according to Mike Sax, president of Sax Software, a development shop.

“They’re more of a little handout to generate some interest,” Sax said. “The APIs are the key reason they’re doing this. I think they’re trying to reach out to developers and get them to integrate the APIs into their applications so Google can become a platform and not just a search engine.”

Google’s technology is built on open source software, with proprietary additions, Urs Hoelzle, its vice president of engineering, told a technology conference audience recently. In January, Google hired two Mozilla developers and advertised for more engineers with open source experience.

Stacey Quandt, an analyst with the Robert Francis Group, said that Google’s use of an estimated 100,000 Linux servers did a lot to legitimize the technology. “In the earlier days of Linux adoption, that was an important proof point of Linux viability,” she said. “Reference customers drive enterprise interest.”

Google’s announcement followed at the heels of Yahoo , which last week opened the APIs to its advertising platform.

But it still has a long way to go to rival the developer access afforded by Microsoft , and eBay, Sax said.

The ten-year-old Microsoft Developers Network is much more extensive, according to Sax, while those of and eBay are more coherent.

“Google has little pieces of functionality they expose in an API,” Sax said, “and, in a sense, they are all individual islands, not exactly integrated. What Amazon and eBay have is their core functionality of a commerce engine or auction engine that they’re exposing, with a very complete single API for that.”

Updates to estimate number of Linux servers referenced in prior version

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