Countdown to Google I/O: Diverse perspectives

JUN 19, 2012
By Jared Goralnick, Marcin Kwietniewski, and Kevin Nilson, with Scott Knaster and Domenica Liberti, Google I/O Team

Google I/O 2012 is fast approaching, and to help energize you for three packed days of demos, announcements and developer fun, we chatted with a few attendees to see what excites them about this year's agenda, and to get some tips on how to make the most of the event.

For today's post we talked with 3 developers about how they use Google technologies and how Google I/O helps them learn and code.

Jared Goralnick, Founder and CEO, AwayFind

What do you do and what’s your general approach to Google I/O?
My job is to help our engineers get things done, and to grow AwayFind's user base. Google I/O for me is a chance to meet with Googlers and independent software vendors that are pushing the limits of the technologies we work with, mainly Gmail and Google Apps. The people I’ve met at Google I/O in years past have helped my team on both technical and business issues.

What Google technologies do you use in your products?
AwayFind delivers mobile alerts for priority emails. That means we use:
What are the most valuable parts of Google I/O for you? Any advice for new attendees?
It's the unique group of people that make the difference for me at Google I/O. While there will be specific events I'll attend like Wednesday’s "Android Apps in Google Play" and Friday's "Designing for the Other Half," it's the Office Hours and the Sandbox that really excite me.

For anyone who will be attending for the first time, I recommend highlighting the talks or labs that you really want to attend (last year’s Android app was a big help for this). But even more importantly, be sure to list out the questions you really need answered and the people you'd really like to meet.

How is Google I/O different from other conferences you attend?
Google I/O attendees know how to work with the Google ecosystem to build products and businesses. For 3 days this summer, I'll be surrounded by experts and I can ask tough questions of people who have real experience. No other conference offers such a deep dive into the world where my team and my customers spend most of their days.

And it's fun. The afterparty is a chance to be a happy geek. The keynote is energetic. And everyone seems to be in a good mood with free food (and plenty of candy).

Marcin Kwietniewski, Software Engineer, Wave Accounting

Have you been to Google I/O before? What’s your overall perspective on this year’s event?
Not only is this my first Google I/O, I'm a bit of an outsider in the web dev world — I was in database systems and video-processing software until recently. So from that perspective I often find myself asking questions like this:

If we can create brilliant technology that allows me to use my phone to take HD video of a cat and share it with a billion people online, why do small business owners still have to burn a quarter of their time doing administrative tasks instead of, you know, running the business?

So you're saying you hate cats? (Just kidding.) Seriously, what kinds of products are you working on?
My company,, is building smarter, better business tools. Our free online accounting application has had a quarter of a million small businesses sign up in a year and a half. We're launching Wave Payroll soon, too, and we hope to see the same kind of fireworks there.

What are you hoping to learn at I/O?
I'll be at the Google Drive SDK session to see how Wave can use Google Drive to enable easier collaboration between our customers and their accountants — specifically, the ability to share receipts, tax documents, and so on.

At Wave we're currently exploring how to separate the permissions for our various services, so I’ll be at the OAuth session, too. Specifically, I’m looking forward to Python samples for managing user identity and data access within an application.

And as a relative newcomer in the web world, the session about visual design is going to be awesome for me. I haven’t had much design experience before Wave, and though we have great UI/UX people who do most of that work, I still often work very directly on user-facing parts of our application, so I expect to learn a lot from the visual design pros.

At Wave we’re already taking advantage of Google OpenID, and our apps are on the Chrome Web Store and the Google Apps Marketplace. But my marketing colleagues at Wave have me on the lookout for new ways of leveraging the Google ecosystem to drive traffic.

And I'll be absorbing as much Android know-how as possible. Our mobile apps are in progress.

It sounds like you’re very business-focused, but please don’t forget to have fun at I/O too.
Absolutely! I've heard great things about the camaraderie at I/O, and the events from last year look like a blast. I'm looking forward to some fun as well as the mental challenges.

Kevin Nilson, VP Engineering,, and user group leader

Tell us what you do and which technologies you use.
I am the VP of Engineering of, a mobile startup in the social space. At we are building iPhone, Android, HTML5 Mobile, and HTML5 Web applications. At I code on the Android app, the server-side SpringMVC, and a bit on the HTML5. I/O is great because it has great coverage of modern development tools.

I am also the leader of the Silicon Valley Google Technology User Group. I find I/O a great place to get a preview of what possible topics I may want to have throughout the year. If you enjoy I/O, but want to learn more and meet with developers from your community I recommend looking at to find a local group. If you don’t find a local group you can always start one yourself.

What are you looking forward to most at I/O?
I am most excited about the Android sessions. I'd love to start leveraging all of the ICS features in the app. I will also squeeze in some Google Maps sessions. I seem to find myself using Google Maps on some project every year, so I like keeping up-to-date with Maps.

I also enjoy attending hands-on sessions at I/O. Historically Bootcamp has been my favorite part of I/O. I love sitting in a 1-2 hour session and learning the basics of something I have never done before. The Code Labs this year look great.

As a Google I/O veteran, tell us what it feels like to attend I/O.
I/O has great energy, because it brings developers from all backgrounds. Most conferences I attend, all developers are from very similar backgrounds. I really enjoy the hallway and lunchtime conversations with developers of diverse backgrounds.

I/O also pulls together experts from many different areas. I think the speaker quality at I/O is better than other conferences. Many of the speakers are on the core development teams of the products and others are directly involved in specs.

You're active in the developer community. How does I/O help with that?
I lead the Silicon Valley Google Technology User Group. I/O is the place to meet group leaders from around the world. The group lounge is a great place to relax and meet other developers.

Not coming to Google I/O 2012 in person? Not a problem. Watch the keynote and dozens of other sessions streamed live at

Jared Goralnick is Founder at AwayFind, where he helps people to stop checking their email. You can also find him mentoring at 500 Startups, hosting the Inbox Love conference, and tripping over his own feet on the swing dance floor. Follow Jared at @technotheory.

Marcin Kwietniewski is a Software Engineer (Python/Django) at Wave Accounting. In addition to his new adventures in web development, he's traded in spare time pursuits like puzzles, sci-fi novels and ballroom dancing in favor of his beautiful 16-month-old daughter. Follow Marcin at @marcin_kw.

Kevin Nilson is VP of Engineering at Just.Me. Kevin has spoken at conferences such as JavaOne, Devoxx, JAX, Silicon Valley Code Camp, and AjaxWorld. Kevin is the leader of the Silicon Valley Web Developer Java User Group, Silicon Valley Google Technology Users Group and Silicon Valley JavaScript Meetup. Follow Kevin on Google+ and Twitter.

Edited and posted by Scott Knaster and Domenica Liberti, Google I/O Team.