The first official (?) Dublin GTUG meeting took place last night in Google in Barrow St. For a first meeting, we were very happy with how it went. (There was a meeting in July, but this was somehow not an official GTUG meeting as the group had not been formed and it was just kickstarting the process).
The meeting opened with the obligatory pizzas, kindly provided by Google. Following the discussion of the vagaries of the Irish weather, the proceedings proper commenced. It started with everyone – there were about 28 people there – saying who they are and why they are interested in Google technology. This varied from stories of lots of experience with lots of different Google technologies to just here for the pizza ;-).
Brian Farrell then set the scene with an overview of what GTUGs are, where they meet, what they do, how many people engage with them, etc. This was intended to start people thinking about what the Dublin GTUG could do. It was interesting to note that even though this was just the first meeting, the numbers of people engaging are very encouraging. For example, London has 216 GTUG members and a typical turnout of about 30 for events; we have 61 members of the group and 28 attendees at the first meeting. Brian’s presentation here.
I then gave a talk which was some kind of whistle-stop tour of a very wide range of Google technologies – the point of this talk was twofold: (i) to show people how many different technologies Google works on and (ii) to provide some context for a discussion on the technologies that are of most interest to the folks in the group. Robert Kielty – funny guy that he is – described my talk as simultaneously interesting and boring; it provides a long list of Google technologies, which I went through, most of which were boring, but there were some he was not aware of which were interesting. My presentation here.
Following the two talks, Vishal Vatsa gave a very cool walkthrough of the Scripting Layer for Android (previously known as Android Scripting Environment). Vishal showed how this can be used to access the Android functionality via your scripting language of choice – essentially, it’s a set of Java based RPC handlers which tie into the interfaces provided by the platform – these RPC handlers can be invoked via RPC calls from your favourite scripting language. It did have some limitations :
- the UI components are limited for now;
- to package an app written using SLA for distribution, you would need to include the interpreter for your scripting language;
- the tools for test and debug look a little clunky
However, all of these are sure to improve over the coming months. There were a couple of further interesting points relating to this which are probably worth a mention:
- it does not require a rooted phone;
- it can tie in to the intents mechanism of Android, so it is possible to have an Android app which is part SLA, part Java
Vishal used it to write a nice SMS forwarding app – he needed to forward SMS’s from a work phone to a personal phone and wrote a simple app to do this in a couple of hours. Very cool indeed!
In true coder fashion, Vishal did not bother with any slideware, so I can’t link to any here.
After the talks, we adjourned to the SchoolHouse for some convivial chat.
All in all, I found it very enjoyable – I hope next month’s meet can be just as much fun!