Everybody knows Google as a search engine. Everyone in this industry knows Google also does lots of other interesting things, from Google Earth to Gmail. What is less known is the wealth of resources and tools that Google provides for website development. Let’s have a look at the most useful tools Google provides to help you build your next website.

Google Code

Google Code is a site providing a wide range of developer tools, APIs and code snippets. The site also pulls together developer-related news, tutorial videos and developer events, and is a free resource for all. It can be a treasure trove for the mid to experienced web developer and it is well worth spending some time exploring its various sections.

One section that is particularly useful is "APIs and tools." Here you will find a directory of APIs for Google's myriad products and services. If you are looking to include a map on your website, your own image search or integrate with Buzz, you will find the information here. Each API page includes links to documentation and code samples, developer discussion forums and official blogs. While all of the standard and more popular Google services are covered, you will also find links to less well-known products such as Sidewiki, reCAPTCHA and Google Base.

Google Web Toolkit

Google Code is also home to the Google Web Toolkit. This starter pack of goodies includes code libraries, plugins, developer tools and a user interface design component. The included software development kit covers a set of Java API libraries, a compiler and a development server. The kit was put together with the aim of helping developers build complex JavaScript applications, written and maintained in Java.

"GWT designer" is a plugin for the popular Eclipse development environment, and generates Java code for simple forms and GUI components. The tool is used internally by Google and played roles in the development of AdWords and the now defunct Google Wave. Google Software Engineer Dhanji Prasanna, who worked on Wave, had this to say about the GWT:

The Google Web Toolkit has been a great success story for Google Wave. We are able to leverage Java testing, debugging and code development tools, which are very useful and familiar, and delivering this to a browser in a compact, performant and scalable form has been a real eye-opener for us.”

Google App Engine

The "Google App Engine" is also part of the Google Code repository, and allows developers to run their applications on Google's own enterprise hardware. Similar in nature to the Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure services, the App Engine is a complete development stack for building and hosting web applications. Once your application is built and uploaded to Google, system administration is taken care of. Resources are allocated to your app as required and the architecture will scale as needed without manual intervention.

Applications can be built in either Python or Java, though there are limitations in the modules and classes available for use in both of these languages. The service is free up to a certain level of used resources, and, in any case, you pay only for the resources you actually used.

Conclusions

Google spends a lot of time on its stated aim of "organizing the world's information" and this remit has long seen it provide services above and beyond simple search. Developer tools and resources such as those featured here, in Google's mind, help to promote a strong and innovative web. This benefits users, which in turn strengthens Google's hand. What's more, due to the immense revenues generated by Google's advertising services, many of these developer services are offered at little or no cost. So if you are just starting out, or are a seasoned web developer, you are bound to find something useful to help improve your work.