Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gmail Labs

Google launched Gmail Labs today. Read about it here and here.

1. According to Google it is the next stage of 20% time. Till now, projects developed under 20% time were internal to Google. Now they can be seen, after some scrutiny, by end users who can then give feedback directly to the developers. I think it is an excellent idea.

2. To me it also seems like openly embracing the open source software development philosophy. That is how open source works. People can propose a lot of changes or patches to the original code. If the improvement is strong enough it becomes part of standard distribution. I've seen this happen with KDE. Many of the panel applets, superkaramba, etc. started out as independent projects but are now part of standard KDE distribution. This process has done wonders to KDE. It is good to see this philosophy seeping into Google's development process.

3. What I fear on the other hand is what I call the application syndrome. This happened with Facebook. Too many applications, or additions to the original product resulted in increased complexity. It also made the website very slow. Apps on Facebook put many people off. I would hate to see the same phenomenon happen to Gmail.

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