google nigeria 2012

I had the opportunity of attending the first day of Google Nigeria’s biggest annual event in Nigeria today. It was held at The Civic Center in Victoria Island – what a perfect venue especially because of the miniature ocean view of the lagoon. Today was focused on developers and webmasters. This was my first time of attending a Google Nigeria event and I was really impressed but was also disappointed about some things.

Some of the notable point I could pick up from today’s event are:

Great Attendance: More developers?

Like I said earlier this was my first Google Nigeria event and I honestly didn’t imagine it could be this big. I was glad to see my old friends and my work colleagues who came all the way like I did to be a part of the historic event. I was also excited to see my faces and got the chance to meet some cool people. I was told this year’s attendance was much bigger than the immediate previous year. This is actually really good news not just for Google but also for the future of Nigeria’s software technology which could solve some of the toughest challenges we are currently facing. I am excited because it means the number of software developers is increasing and now it’s becoming cool to be a computer nerd in Nigeria.

Google Site Builder: Another WordPress?

Google site builder is simply a free tool that makes creation of website simple enough for your grandma to do. Probably I am exaggerating but you just have to check it out yourself. This is website development made easy – all you really need to do is to click around some buttons and within minutes you could have a functional website. Now am sure someone is like “what’s so special?” I already do that with custom management systems like WordPress and Drupal. Actually what makes Google site builder powerful is the ability to create design templates yourself with any knowledge of HTML and CSS instead of being stuck with the free and premium templates available. This is also the tool driving Google’s Get Nigerian Businesses Online project.

More to Google Maps?

It is not uncommon to see various websites with Google Maps viewport these days, what is uncommon is the ingenious use of Google Maps. This is why I was excited to see various creative and more advanced usages of Google Maps today. Here are two examples http://maps.yellow.co.nz and http://sanmap.org/.

HTML5 is here but Javascript keeps popping up

HTML5 is here with all its cool benefits and its pitfalls. I am personally excited about HTML5 because of the opportunity to build more powerful web apps that could behave and look more like native apps on various platforms. So with HTML5 we won’t need Javascript and Flash anymore to make powerful web apps? The answer is no. Even though we could do away with flash completely, we can’t do the same with Javascript because Javascript is the scripting language that makes all the cool dynamic stuff happen in HTML5. If you are like me who has always been dodging javascript, I think this is the time for you to develop your javascript coding skills – eat the frog!

Google App Engine isn’t that bad after all?

For starters Google App Engine enables you to build and host web apps on the same systems that power Google applications. App Engine offers fast development and deployment; simple administration, with no need to worry about hardware, patches or backups; and effortless scalability. Even though I knew some of the benefits of the Google App Engine, I wasn’t ready to jump fully onboard and start building on this platform. Parts of the reason for this were that PHP isn’t yet a supported language (sorry hardcore PHP coders) and also I hadn’t made up my mind on the best web apps host. But with the recent news of Microsoft Azure (Microsoft’s web apps hosting solution) not being available for over 24 hours, I made up my mind to give Google App Engine a trial sometime in the nearest future. Even though only these languages; Java, Python and Go are supported at the moment, I think it’s worth the stress if one decides to make master one of these languages and build web apps leveraging on the Google App Engine.

If you really want to be innovative, solve the hard problems

This was a candid advice given by Essien (CodeMonkey) in the final session for the day. He said this after saying that most of the easy problems have already been solved. However startups still spring up every now and then trying to tackle these same easy problems without offering any real innovation. The only way to break out of this trap is by attempting a really hard problem with little or no solution available yet. It’s also worth noting that some problems look very easy until you try to solve them then you’ll discover some things you probably over-sighted.

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