Sunday, October 16, 2005

Google Maps lead engineer gazes into crystal ball

Desktop apps coming to the Web: Google
ComputerWorld Australia - Oct. 14th/05

Speaking at a Sydney University school of information technologies seminar, Google Maps lead engineer Lars Rasmussen told of how his startup company had developed a desktop map browsing application in C++ before being acquired by Google.

"Google said, 'we like the Web, what can you do?'," Rasmussen said, adding that within three weeks his team had something "as good" which it had spent the last three years working on.

"Traditionally, a Web site is about flipping pages but we took a different approach with Maps which is one page of Javascript," he said. "Javascript allows rapid development, the end user doesn't need to install software, and it is cross platform. Maps has a richer interface, like a desktop application." Last week Google released the Maps service out of beta and re-branded it Google Local and with the release of a free mapping API, there are now "thousands" of Web sites integrating maps for diverse information like housing prices and hurricane tracking.

Rasmussen, a Google US employee now based in Sydney, said browsers are now mature enough for richer applications and will only improve to become more desktop-like, such as Google's Windows-based spatial information application, Google Earth.

"My crystal ball has a lot more things like that coming out in the next couple of years," he said. "Sometime in the future the now native client Google Earth application will be possible in a browser."


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