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Are Google open source gates opening up?Jay Lyman, July 8, 2008 @ 2:54 pm ET
Google recently open sourced code for its protocol buffers, a data encoding format which company staffers describe as superior and more efficient than XML for its purposes. It is interesting to see Google back the protocol buffer approach, but the more interesting part of this to FOSS fans is that Google also appears to be laying the groundwork to release more open source software.
Google also this week open sourced an application security testing tool, Ratproxy, which is also available under the Apache License 2.0.
I’ve indicated that Google, along with competitors such as Facebook, may be overlooking opportunities in their aversion to more restrictive, yet often more effective, open source licenses. However, I think in this case, Google realizes the potential of open source software development and is wisely seeking to harness it. The protocol buffers are available for download and use under the open source Apache License 2.0.
We will be following Google with a good deal of anticipation given indications that, according to its FAQ on the recently open sourced protocol buffers, it plans to release more open source. “Protocol buffers are used by practically everyone inside Google,” it says. “We have many other projects we would like to release as open source that use protocol buffers, so to do this, we needed to release protocol buffers first.”
Google’s guys add that some of the protocol buffer code may already be out in the open in Google software such as its AppEngine. The key objective and driver for Google here is obviously to promote acceptance and use of protocol buffers in addition to and alongside XML. By looking to open source software developers and communities, I think Google is on the right path to get it. I also think the more open source software Google creates and contributes back to the greater community, the more effective its open source efforts will be.
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