If you’re curious about the technology behind Google+, you’re in luck. The project’s technical lead, Google engineer Joseph Smarr, is currently hosting an online question and answer session about the service, sharing details about the social platform’s development, technology, and plans for the future.


If you’re curious about all things Google+, you’re in luck. The project’s technical lead, Google engineer Joseph Smarr, is currently hosting an online question and answer session about the service — and he has already shared a number of details about Google+’s development, technology, and plans for the future.

On Monday, Smarr opened himself up for questions on Q&A website AnyAsq.com, a Y-Combinator-backed site reminiscent of Formspring.me where users can invite others to “ask me anything.” People sign in to post questions on AnyAsq through their Twitter accounts, but a host’s responses can be longer than 140 characters.

Smarr has already answered 270 queries, and as of press time, his AnyAsq page is still open for questions. Here’s some of what he has revealed so far:

  • Google+ fast tracked its development from the start
    “We put extra emphasis on engineering speed/agility–we try to release code updates on a daily basis while still keeping quality/stability/latency as high as you’d expect from Google.”
  • New features are absolutely on the way
    “…Personally I’m eager for many of the features other Google+ users have asked for recently: smarter ranking/collapsing/filtering in the stream and notifications… integration with more Google products… and an API so I can start hacking on cool uses of circles, etc.”
  • Hashtags are on Google+’s radar
    In response to a question about adding hashtags to help filter Google+ posts, Smarr responded: “Personally, I want this too.”
  • There was some fancy footwork on the programming front
    “A couple nifty tricks we do: we use the HTML5 History API to maintain pretty-looking URLs even though it’s an AJAX app (falling back on hash-fragments for older browsers); and we often render our Closure templates server-side so the page renders before any JavaScript is loaded, then the JavaScript finds the right DOM nodes and hooks up event handlers, etc. to make it responsive.”

Although none of Smarr’s responses have been shockingly revealing, the AnyAsq activity is just the latest example of how Google has worked hard to project an air of openness throughout the entire Google+ launch. Where the now-defunct Google Wave was developed with an air of secrecy that ultimately confused users as to its purpose, Google’s strategy with the Plus project has been one of transparency and agility — a “done is better than perfect” attitude. So far, it’s been a refreshing approach. The challenge for the future will be maintaining that flexibility as Google+ grows.

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  1. > Google Wave was developed with an air of secrecy that ultimately confused users as to its purpose

    Objection! Not only is the above statement factually incorrect about the ‘air of secrecy’ around Google Wave development, it is also quite misleading in its assertion that such alleged secrecy led to the confusion in users to its purpose. EXTREMELY disappointed to read this statement on Gigaom!

    1. Colleen Taylor A S Tuesday, July 12, 2011

      Thanks for the feedback A S.

      In my opinion, Google did not provide as much straightforward information about Wave as they have about other products. Wave’s marketing strategy seemed to rely partly on using mystery (aka, secrecy) to build hype. For now, Google+ seems to be taking a different tack.

      Happy to hear more of your opinion, though.

      1. I’d have to agree with A S on this. With Wave, Google published the Google Wave Federation Protocol and even open sourced significant portions of their implementation of the Wave servers. It doesn’t get any more open than that.

        Google+ has had a much more public launch yet the APIs are not ready.

  2. Still wish I could my google apps account on G+….

    1. It’s coming apparently…

  3. Now, if only they could make the desktop site (?fd=1) work on iPad. It displays, but you cannot interract with it The mobile site which comes up with the redirect works but is really awful. Facebook has one up here as their full site works well on iPad. Shame as I like the Google+ desktop site and the product. This just gives me a reason to you use it.

    1. Works great on Android devices. Get something more useful!

  4. I see 100 questions (determined by search for word “tweet” which appears with each Q&A pair) and no “next” page. Perhaps the “270” number quoted was the number of times the thread was voted up? Or I’m missing hundreds of Q&A. Either way good stuff! Thanks for the heads up!


  5. everydaypanos Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Nice ad for AnyAsq. #blameycombinator

  6. Can someone please provide me with an invite, I would like to to give this a try. luis622@gmail.com Thank you

    1. Himanshu Bansal Luis Wednesday, July 13, 2011

      Luis did you get an invitation? If so, can you invite me also? :-)

  7. Agree that the assessment is misleading and in my opinion flawed – that there was secrecy behind google Wave and it was a factor in its failure.
    Google Wave didn’t really give all that compelling reasons to its users to join and not sure Google+ does either. What gaps in facebook is Google trying to address ? and are they compelling enough ?

  8. Everybody expect +1 explosion, we know how big G works…

  9. Amelia @ International Business Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    I think Google is right on track in keeping its plans for Google+ open and transparent. Keeping the communication lines open would help Google market the new social networking site better and come up with solutions as the needs arise.

    That being said, Google should continue to focus on the integration and aesthetics, if I may say, of Google+ for it to compete with Facebook. We’ve seen the likes of Wave, Orkut, and others go down unnoticed.

  10. I personally hope that Google’s algorithm for PR will grant some discount on a page load time, as I have noticed on my website it take extra time to load +1

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