GTUG TLV

Happy to share my experience last week from the first Tel Aviv Google Technology User Group meetup. It was a fun evening with great people and featured interesting lectures about web development (python, Google AppEngine, JavaScript) and Android programming. This meetup was jointly organized with PyWeb-IL, another great Israeli user group focusing on Python and Django.

GTUG TLV, is a new group dealing with web development and particularly Google technologies (and there are quite a bit). The group is a local Israeli chapter of the global GTUG initiative, it was founded and lead by Omri Baumer, CTO of SBSH (Mobile development company). You can join the group online discussions or check out the global GTUG YouTube channel to watch videos from other GTUGs around the world. The group is open for all Israeli developers interested in web dev.

The first meetup took place at the Google office in Tel Aviv – from the 26th floor on Begin street, their office have the best view on Tel Aviv. – If you’re looking for a great place to work and you think you’ve got what it takes to be a Googler, be sure to check out the various job openings at Google Israel.

The recap:

4 speakers and topics. Each had about 30 minutes to discuss an interesting technology or approach (Click on the presentation name to see it).

Javascript Programming Patterns by Zohar Arad (Newsgeek) – General JavaScript talk about the use of common design patterns and their implementation in JS. Zohar was fun to listen to and easy to keep track with. The presentation targeted starting to medium level JavaScript developers, providing a solid background for modular and robust JS development. It generated an interesting discussion about how others would implement the same approaches.
Zohar posted a personal article about accessible web development, would be very interesting to hear him talk about that… (An idea for the next GTUG TLV meeting?).
Oh, and one little thing – Zohar Arad accused Flash as badly handling events and not clearing references. Well, either write your application well removing listeners or applying weak references or use an event management system, but all in all, ActionScript3 is light years from JavaScript, still.

Android 101 by Dror Shalev – CTO at Droid Security, a great speaker with strong presence. It might be that it was just the perfect timing for this lecture as I recently started programming my Nexus One cause this talk was certainly the tipping point of the evening; It featured Android from the perspective of an experienced developer, providing enough information to get started and much desire to investigate more. The talk was interesting and fun, very informative.
Check out Dror’s site for a ton of cool security related knowledge (see creating a toaster that will take over you lan). If you have an Android device – be sure to check out Droid Security, an antivirus / protection application for Android.

Django AppEngine Based Platform Building Sites by Alon Burg – Formerly with MetaCafe and today at Boxee, Alon brings a broad experience with rich applications. This talk was show casing 9folds.com as a usecase of building solutions based on AppEngine using Django. 9folds is a concept similar to Wix.com where the system provide an easy to use and extend set of tools to create your website / online portfolio without the need to be a programmer or write code. Alon also discussed some best-practices when working with AppEngine and also revealed parts of 9folds backend. I really liked the feature Alon created into 9folds that enables developers to use Git and automatically sync it to their 9folds website – an approach that (in contrast to Wix) provide developers with the ability to extend 9folds and create their own website templates. 9folds pose an advantage over Wix that had yet opened APIs and outputting Flash instead of html and js, however, is still very premature in comparison.

An introduction To Google Closure by Ariel Kroszynski – Ariel is a Google developer at the Tel Aviv office. This talk was an introduction to a newly open sourced JavaScript library and (semi)compiler: closure. Closure is a JavaScript library broadly tested and powering Gmail, Docs, Maps, Reader, Sites and more. The overview included details and demonstrations on the Closure Compiler, a compiler application that will input your JavaScript code, adding a general JS library of your choice (JQuery, JQueryUI, Closure, Dojo, MooTools, etc.)  and output a combined single file, optimized and minified code, it can be used as a compiler service or as a command-line compiler written in Java. The Closure JS library is a complete alternative to JQuery + JQueryUI, GWT and more – it features events management, DOM manipulations, UI widgets and more. Along with the compiler and library, Closure adds a layer of templating to automate creation of code, see examples here. Get the demo application Ariel wrote here: PhoneBook Demo Application.

I’ve asked Omri a few questions about GTUG TLV and his plans for its future –

Q: Why did you decide to open GTUG TLV and what are its goals?
A: I have always been interested in Google’s developer technology, and I was looking for a place where I can meet other people who feel the same and learn how to implement those technologies. Then I saw GTUGS.org, and saw that Israel still doesn’t have a GTUG chapter, so I decided to open one.
The goals are to have nice events, where people can learn about new Google tech for developers, enjoy meeting new people, and share the problems that people encounter.

Q: What plans or ideas you have for GTUG TLV future?
A: The plan is to have an event from time to time, and have talks and hackathons, the next even will probably host a couple of talks and a Chrome extension hackathon.

Q: Is the group funded / supported by Google?
A: The group is not funded by Google, but Google is Highly supportive of GTUG and help out with logistics.

Q: Can anyone join?
A: The GTUG community is an Open developer community, so Yes! any developer interested in Google Technologies for developers can join.

Q: How can others help?
A: If you would like to help me with more events, contact me at omri@NOSPAMgtugs.org

All in all – the first GTUG TLV was great fun. To meet everyone, the PyWeb-IL group, individuals and speakers. Was also a pleasure meeting Dror Rejwan behind iAndroid, an Israeli Android community site every Android user in Israel should know.

I hope this will be the first of many interesting meetings, promoting and connecting web developers in Israel. Well, I also hope to have joint meetings and collaboration with WebiTalks as the groups have many joint interests.

Thanks to the organizers Omri and Ahik (from PyWeb-IL) and for Google TLV for hosting the meetup.

Some mobile stills (Video is being uploaded…)