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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Google Huddle Chat Taken Down

Just two days after the release, Google removed their main sample application for the new Google App Engine. is now showing the following message:

Hi, a couple of our colleagues wrote Huddle Chat in their spare time as a sample application for other developers to demonstrate the power and flexibility of Google App Engine. We’ve heard some complaints from the developer community about it and because of that we’ve decided to take it down. If you’d like to see more sample applications written on Google App Engine please check out our documentation and our App Gallery.

The Google App Engine Team

Someone who identifies himself as Google App Product Manager in a ReadWriteWeb comment adds, “We’ve heard some complaints from the developer community ... so rather than divert attention from Google App Engine itself, we thought it better to just take HuddleChat down.” Huddle Chat allowed you to create web-based chat rooms on the fly. It also allowed you to show-case files in that chat room, or dig through transcripts of other chats. One of those transcript mentioned that apparently, Google developers took 3-4 weeks – apparently in their spare time – to create Huddle Chat. John Gruber of Daring Fireball comments on what might have been wrong with Huddle Chat:

HuddleChat is just a feature-for-feature clone of 37signals’s Campfire. The layout is the same, the tabs at the top of the screen are the same, the right-side sidebar listing participants and file uploads is the same. It even copies Campfire’s trick of formatting a message as “code” if it contains literal newline characters.

Borrowing ideas is fair game, but copying an entire app is wrong. And it’s creepy, in a Microsoft-of-the-’90s way, when it’s a $150 billion company cloning an app from a 10-person company.

Sarah Hatter at Twitter put it more bluntly than that. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch on the other hand comments:

Frankly, the reaction is fairly ridiculous. But this is apparently a fight that Google doesn’t want to be involved in. (...)

I wonder if Darren Delaye, Braden Kowitz, and Kyle Consalus, the Google developers who created HuddleChat, had much of a say in the decision.

And while Michael argues that Huddle Chat wasn’t even an official Google product to begin with, John argues, “Under California law, Google owns the rights to any product created by Google employees.”

Other sample apps of the Google App Engine are still available in the App Gallery.

Please comment in the existing Google App Engine forum thread.

[Hat tip to Mysterius, Ianf and Waxy!]


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