Wave Developer Slams Google’s Creaking Dev Tools

Dhanji Prasanna, a former Wave developer at Google, loved his job but really hated using ‘outmoded’ tools

A former Google engineer has slated the company for using an obsolete scalable software infrastructure.

Dhanji Prasanna was on the Google Wave team and quit earlier this year after receiving his bonus check for last year. Wave was Google’s Wiki-like real-time communication platform which was launched with a flourish in May 2009 but was beached in August last year.

Not Bitter But Critical

Google’s decision to ditch Wave could have made Prasanna a bitter man however in his blog he says:

“For my part I really enjoyed my time at Google – it is the best job I’ve ever had, by a long way. Everything you hear about is true: the friendly atmosphere, the freedom to pursue innovative ideas and projects, capricious indulgence of engineers, and the noble sense of purpose to change the world for the better with nary a thought given to profits or costs.”

The blog continues in similar vein as he outlines his career with Google but admitting to feeling undervalued. It is when he writes about the software infrastructure that the mood changes.

“Google’s vaunted scalable software infrastructure is obsolete. Don’t get me wrong, their hardware and data centres are the best in the world and, as far as I know, nobody is close to matching it. But the software stack on top of it is 10 years old, aging and designed for building search engines and crawlers. And it is well and truly obsolete.”

He is highly critical of established Google tools like Protocol Buffers structured data encoding, BigTable structured data storage system and MapReduce for processing and generating large data sets. He describes them as “ancient, creaking dinosaurs” when compared to open source packages like MessagePack, JSON, and Apache Hadoop.

He is also critical of recently introduced development projects like Google Web Toolkit (GWT), the Closure linter for checking code and enforcing styles, and MegaStore data engine. Thes, he says are “sluggish, over-engineered Leviathans compared to fast, elegant tools like jQuery and mongoDB”.

Prasanna describes the Google software as having the feel of products “designed by engineers in a vacuum, rather than by developers who have need of tools”.

Since leaving Google, Prasanna feels more fulfilled because he is using Java to created entire apps in the space of a single workday.

“I’ve gotten prototypes off the ground, shown it to people, or deployed them with hardly any barriers,” he wrote. “The feeling now is liberating and joyous. Working by yourself or in a small team is fantastic in so many ways, that I simply can’t describe it properly. If you’re a [code] hacker, Google is not the ideal place for you.”