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The best article I've ever read about architecture and the management of IT.


This post was intended to be shared privately and was accidentally made public. Thanks to +Steve Yegge for allowing us to keep it out there. It's the sort of writing people do when they think nobody is watching: honest, clear, and frank.

The world would be a better place if more people wrote this sort of internal memoranda, and even better if they were allowed to write it for the outside world.

Hopefully Steve will not experience any negative repercussions from Google about this. On the contrary, he deserves a promotion.

***UPDATE #2***

This post has received a lot of attention. For anyone here who arrived from The Greater Internet - I stand ready to remove this post if asked. As I mentioned before, I was given permission to keep it up.

Google's openness to allow us to keep this message posted on its own social network is, in my opinion, a far greater asset than any SaS platform. In the end, a company's greatest asset is its culture, and here, Google is one of the strongest companies on the planet.
Steve Yegge originally shared:
Stevey's Google Platforms Rant

I was at Amazon for about six and a half years, and now I've been at Google for that long. One thing that struck me immediately about the two companies -- an impression that has been reinforced almost daily -- is that Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right. Sure, it's a sweeping generalization, but a surprisingly accurate one. It's pretty crazy. There are probably a hundred or even two hundred different ways you can compare the two companies, and Google is superior in all but three of them, if I recall correctly. I actually did a spreadsheet at one point but Legal wouldn't let me show it to anyone, even though recruiting loved it.

I mean, just to give you a very brief taste: Amazon's recruiting process is fundamentally flawed by having teams hire for themselves, so their hiring bar is incredibly inconsistent across teams, despite various efforts they've made to level it out. And their operations are a mess; they don't really have SREs and they make engineers pretty much do everything, which leaves almost no time for coding - though again this varies by group, so it's luck of the draw. They don't give a single shit about charity or helping the needy or community contributions or anything like that. Never comes up there, except maybe to laugh about it. Their facilities are dirt-smeared cube farms without a dime spent on decor or common meeting areas. Their pay and benefits suck, although much less so lately due to local competition from Google and Facebook. But they don't have any of our perks or extras -- they just try to match the offer-letter numbers, and that's the end of it. Their code base is a disaster, with no engineering standards whatsoever except what individual teams choose to put in place.

To be fair, they do have a nice versioned-library system that we really ought to emulate, and a nice publish-subscribe system that we also have no equivalent for. But for the most part they just have a bunch of crappy tools that read and write state machine information into relational databases. We wouldn't take most of it even if it were free.

I think the pubsub system and their library-shelf system were two out of the grand total of three things Amazon does better than google.

I guess you could make an argument that their bias for launching early and iterating like mad is also something they do well, but you can argue it either way. They prioritize launching early over everything else, including retention and engineering discipline and a bunch of other stuff that turns out to matter in the long run. So even though it's given them some competitive advantages in the marketplace, it's created enough other problems to make it something less than a slam-dunk.

But there's one thing they do really really well that pretty much makes up for ALL of their political, philosophical and technical screw-ups.

Jeff Bezos is an infamous micro-manager. He micro-manages every single pixel of Amazon's retail site. He hired Larry Tesler, Apple's Chief Scientist and probably the very most famous and respected human-computer interaction expert in the entire world, and then ignored every goddamn thing Larry said for three years until Larry finally -- wisely -- left the company. Larry would do these big usability studies and demonstrate beyond any shred of doubt that nobody can understand that frigging website, but Bezos just couldn't let go of those pixels, all those millions of semantics-packed pixels on the landing page. They were like millions of his own precious children. So they're all still there, and Larry is not.

Micro-managing isn't that third thing that Amazon does better than us, by the way. I mean, yeah, they micro-manage really well, but I wouldn't list it as a strength or anything. I'm just trying to set the context here, to help you understand what happened. We're talking about a guy who in all seriousness has said on many public occasions that people should be paying him to work at Amazon. He hands out little yellow stickies with his name on them, reminding people "who runs the company" when they disagree with him. The guy is a regular... well, Steve Jobs, I guess. Except without the fashion or design sense. Bezos is super smart; don't get me wrong. He just makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.

So one day Jeff Bezos issued a mandate. He's doing that all the time, of course, and people scramble like ants being pounded with a rubber mallet whenever it happens. But on one occasion -- back around 2002 I think, plus or minus a year -- he issued a mandate that was so out there, so huge and eye-bulgingly ponderous, that it made all of his other mandates look like unsolicited peer bonuses.

His Big Mandate went something along these lines:

1) All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

2) Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.

3) There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team's data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.

4) It doesn't matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols -- doesn't matter. Bezos doesn't care.

5) All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

6) Anyone who doesn't do this will be fired.

7) Thank you; have a nice day!

Ha, ha! You 150-odd ex-Amazon folks here will of course realize immediately that #7 was a little joke I threw in, because Bezos most definitely does not give a shit about your day.

#6, however, was quite real, so people went to work. Bezos assigned a couple of Chief Bulldogs to oversee the effort and ensure forward progress, headed up by Uber-Chief Bear Bulldog Rick Dalzell. Rick is an ex-Armgy Ranger, West Point Academy graduate, ex-boxer, ex-Chief Torturer slash CIO at Wal*Mart, and is a big genial scary man who used the word "hardened interface" a lot. Rick was a walking, talking hardened interface himself, so needless to say, everyone made LOTS of forward progress and made sure Rick knew about it.

Over the next couple of years, Amazon transformed internally into a service-oriented architecture. They learned a tremendous amount while effecting this transformation. There was lots of existing documentation and lore about SOAs, but at Amazon's vast scale it was about as useful as telling Indiana Jones to look both ways before crossing the street. Amazon's dev staff made a lot of discoveries along the way. A teeny tiny sampling of these discoveries included:

- pager escalation gets way harder, because a ticket might bounce through 20 service calls before the real owner is identified. If each bounce goes through a team with a 15-minute response time, it can be hours before the right team finally finds out, unless you build a lot of scaffolding and metrics and reporting.

- every single one of your peer teams suddenly becomes a potential DOS attacker. Nobody can make any real forward progress until very serious quotas and throttling are put in place in every single service.

- monitoring and QA are the same thing. You'd never think so until you try doing a big SOA. But when your service says "oh yes, I'm fine", it may well be the case that the only thing still functioning in the server is the little component that knows how to say "I'm fine, roger roger, over and out" in a cheery droid voice. In order to tell whether the service is actually responding, you have to make individual calls. The problem continues recursively until your monitoring is doing comprehensive semantics checking of your entire range of services and data, at which point it's indistinguishable from automated QA. So they're a continuum.

- if you have hundreds of services, and your code MUST communicate with other groups' code via these services, then you won't be able to find any of them without a service-discovery mechanism. And you can't have that without a service registration mechanism, which itself is another service. So Amazon has a universal service registry where you can find out reflectively (programmatically) about every service, what its APIs are, and also whether it is currently up, and where.

- debugging problems with someone else's code gets a LOT harder, and is basically impossible unless there is a universal standard way to run every service in a debuggable sandbox.

That's just a very small sample. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of individual learnings like these that Amazon had to discover organically. There were a lot of wacky ones around externalizing services, but not as many as you might think. Organizing into services taught teams not to trust each other in most of the same ways they're not supposed to trust external developers.

This effort was still underway when I left to join Google in mid-2005, but it was pretty far advanced. From the time Bezos issued his edict through the time I left, Amazon had transformed culturally into a company that thinks about everything in a services-first fashion. It is now fundamental to how they approach all designs, including internal designs for stuff that might never see the light of day externally.

At this point they don't even do it out of fear of being fired. I mean, they're still afraid of that; it's pretty much part of daily life there, working for the Dread Pirate Bezos and all. But they do services because they've come to understand that it's the Right Thing. There are without question pros and cons to the SOA approach, and some of the cons are pretty long. But overall it's the right thing because SOA-driven design enables Platforms.

That's what Bezos was up to with his edict, of course. He didn't (and doesn't) care even a tiny bit about the well-being of the teams, nor about what technologies they use, nor in fact any detail whatsoever about how they go about their business unless they happen to be screwing up. But Bezos realized long before the vast majority of Amazonians that Amazon needs to be a platform.

You wouldn't really think that an online bookstore needs to be an extensible, programmable platform. Would you?

Well, the first big thing Bezos realized is that the infrastructure they'd built for selling and shipping books and sundry could be transformed an excellent repurposable computing platform. So now they have the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, and the Amazon Elastic MapReduce, and the Amazon Relational Database Service, and a whole passel' o' other services browsable at These services host the backends for some pretty successful companies, reddit being my personal favorite of the bunch.

The other big realization he had was that he can't always build the right thing. I think Larry Tesler might have struck some kind of chord in Bezos when he said his mom couldn't use the goddamn website. It's not even super clear whose mom he was talking about, and doesn't really matter, because nobody's mom can use the goddamn website. In fact I myself find the website disturbingly daunting, and I worked there for over half a decade. I've just learned to kinda defocus my eyes and concentrate on the million or so pixels near the center of the page above the fold.

I'm not really sure how Bezos came to this realization -- the insight that he can't build one product and have it be right for everyone. But it doesn't matter, because he gets it. There's actually a formal name for this phenomenon. It's called Accessibility, and it's the most important thing in the computing world.

The. Most. Important. Thing.

If you're sorta thinking, "huh? You mean like, blind and deaf people Accessibility?" then you're not alone, because I've come to understand that there are lots and LOTS of people just like you: people for whom this idea does not have the right Accessibility, so it hasn't been able to get through to you yet. It's not your fault for not understanding, any more than it would be your fault for being blind or deaf or motion-restricted or living with any other disability. When software -- or idea-ware for that matter -- fails to be accessible to anyone for any reason, it is the fault of the software or of the messaging of the idea. It is an Accessibility failure.

Like anything else big and important in life, Accessibility has an evil twin who, jilted by the unbalanced affection displayed by their parents in their youth, has grown into an equally powerful Arch-Nemesis (yes, there's more than one nemesis to accessibility) named Security. And boy howdy are the two ever at odds.

But I'll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network.

So yeah. In case you hadn't noticed, I could actually write a book on this topic. A fat one, filled with amusing anecdotes about ants and rubber mallets at companies I've worked at. But I will never get this little rant published, and you'll never get it read, unless I start to wrap up.

That one last thing that Google doesn't do well is Platforms. We don't understand platforms. We don't "get" platforms. Some of you do, but you are the minority. This has become painfully clear to me over the past six years. I was kind of hoping that competitive pressure from Microsoft and Amazon and more recently Facebook would make us wake up collectively and start doing universal services. Not in some sort of ad-hoc, half-assed way, but in more or less the same way Amazon did it: all at once, for real, no cheating, and treating it as our top priority from now on.

But no. No, it's like our tenth or eleventh priority. Or fifteenth, I don't know. It's pretty low. There are a few teams who treat the idea very seriously, but most teams either don't think about it all, ever, or only a small percentage of them think about it in a very small way.

It's a big stretch even to get most teams to offer a stubby service to get programmatic access to their data and computations. Most of them think they're building products. And a stubby service is a pretty pathetic service. Go back and look at that partial list of learnings from Amazon, and tell me which ones Stubby gives you out of the box. As far as I'm concerned, it's none of them. Stubby's great, but it's like parts when you need a car.

A product is useless without a platform, or more precisely and accurately, a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product.

Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo). We all don't get it. The Golden Rule of platforms is that you Eat Your Own Dogfood. The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought. We had no API at all at launch, and last I checked, we had one measly API call. One of the team members marched in and told me about it when they launched, and I asked: "So is it the Stalker API?" She got all glum and said "Yeah." I mean, I was joking, but no... the only API call we offer is to get someone's stream. So I guess the joke was on me.

Microsoft has known about the Dogfood rule for at least twenty years. It's been part of their culture for a whole generation now. You don't eat People Food and give your developers Dog Food. Doing that is simply robbing your long-term platform value for short-term successes. Platforms are all about long-term thinking.

Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that's not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there's something there for everyone.

Our Google+ team took a look at the aftermarket and said: "Gosh, it looks like we need some games. Let's go contract someone to, um, write some games for us." Do you begin to see how incredibly wrong that thinking is now? The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them.

You can't do that. Not really. Not reliably. There have been precious few people in the world, over the entire history of computing, who have been able to do it reliably. Steve Jobs was one of them. We don't have a Steve Jobs here. I'm sorry, but we don't.

Larry Tesler may have convinced Bezos that he was no Steve Jobs, but Bezos realized that he didn't need to be a Steve Jobs in order to provide everyone with the right products: interfaces and workflows that they liked and felt at ease with. He just needed to enable third-party developers to do it, and it would happen automatically.

I apologize to those (many) of you for whom all this stuff I'm saying is incredibly obvious, because yeah. It's incredibly frigging obvious. Except we're not doing it. We don't get Platforms, and we don't get Accessibility. The two are basically the same thing, because platforms solve accessibility. A platform is accessibility.

So yeah, Microsoft gets it. And you know as well as I do how surprising that is, because they don't "get" much of anything, really. But they understand platforms as a purely accidental outgrowth of having started life in the business of providing platforms. So they have thirty-plus years of learning in this space. And if you go to, and spend some time browsing, and you've never seen it before, prepare to be amazed. Because it's staggeringly huge. They have thousands, and thousands, and THOUSANDS of API calls. They have a HUGE platform. Too big in fact, because they can't design for squat, but at least they're doing it.

Amazon gets it. Amazon's AWS ( is incredible. Just go look at it. Click around. It's embarrassing. We don't have any of that stuff.

Apple gets it, obviously. They've made some fundamentally non-open choices, particularly around their mobile platform. But they understand accessibility and they understand the power of third-party development and they eat their dogfood. And you know what? They make pretty good dogfood. Their APIs are a hell of a lot cleaner than Microsoft's, and have been since time immemorial.

Facebook gets it. That's what really worries me. That's what got me off my lazy butt to write this thing. I hate blogging. I hate... plussing, or whatever it's called when you do a massive rant in Google+ even though it's a terrible venue for it but you do it anyway because in the end you really do want Google to be successful. And I do! I mean, Facebook wants me there, and it'd be pretty easy to just go. But Google is home, so I'm insisting that we have this little family intervention, uncomfortable as it might be.

After you've marveled at the platform offerings of Microsoft and Amazon, and Facebook I guess (I didn't look because I didn't want to get too depressed), head over to and browse a little. Pretty big difference, eh? It's like what your fifth-grade nephew might mock up if he were doing an assignment to demonstrate what a big powerful platform company might be building if all they had, resource-wise, was one fifth grader.

Please don't get me wrong here -- I know for a fact that the dev-rel team has had to FIGHT to get even this much available externally. They're kicking ass as far as I'm concerned, because they DO get platforms, and they are struggling heroically to try to create one in an environment that is at best platform-apathetic, and at worst often openly hostile to the idea.

I'm just frankly describing what looks like to an outsider. It looks childish. Where's the Maps APIs in there for Christ's sake? Some of the things in there are labs projects. And the APIs for everything I clicked were... they were paltry. They were obviously dog food. Not even good organic stuff. Compared to our internal APIs it's all snouts and horse hooves.

And also don't get me wrong about Google+. They're far from the only offenders. This is a cultural thing. What we have going on internally is basically a war, with the underdog minority Platformers fighting a more or less losing battle against the Mighty Funded Confident Producters.

Any teams that have successfully internalized the notion that they should be externally programmable platforms from the ground up are underdogs -- Maps and Docs come to mind, and I know GMail is making overtures in that direction. But it's hard for them to get funding for it because it's not part of our culture. Maestro's funding is a feeble thing compared to the gargantuan Microsoft Office programming platform: it's a fluffy rabbit versus a T-Rex. The Docs team knows they'll never be competitive with Office until they can match its scripting facilities, but they're not getting any resource love. I mean, I assume they're not, given that Apps Script only works in Spreadsheet right now, and it doesn't even have keyboard shortcuts as part of its API. That team looks pretty unloved to me.

Ironically enough, Wave was a great platform, may they rest in peace. But making something a platform is not going to make you an instant success. A platform needs a killer app. Facebook -- that is, the stock service they offer with walls and friends and such -- is the killer app for the Facebook Platform. And it is a very serious mistake to conclude that the Facebook App could have been anywhere near as successful without the Facebook Platform.

You know how people are always saying Google is arrogant? I'm a Googler, so I get as irritated as you do when people say that. We're not arrogant, by and large. We're, like, 99% Arrogance-Free. I did start this post -- if you'll reach back into distant memory -- by describing Google as "doing everything right". We do mean well, and for the most part when people say we're arrogant it's because we didn't hire them, or they're unhappy with our policies, or something along those lines. They're inferring arrogance because it makes them feel better.

But when we take the stance that we know how to design the perfect product for everyone, and believe you me, I hear that a lot, then we're being fools. You can attribute it to arrogance, or naivete, or whatever -- it doesn't matter in the end, because it's foolishness. There IS no perfect product for everyone.

And so we wind up with a browser that doesn't let you set the default font size. Talk about an affront to Accessibility. I mean, as I get older I'm actually going blind. For real. I've been nearsighted all my life, and once you hit 40 years old you stop being able to see things up close. So font selection becomes this life-or-death thing: it can lock you out of the product completely. But the Chrome team is flat-out arrogant here: they want to build a zero-configuration product, and they're quite brazen about it, and Fuck You if you're blind or deaf or whatever. Hit Ctrl-+ on every single page visit for the rest of your life.

It's not just them. It's everyone. The problem is that we're a Product Company through and through. We built a successful product with broad appeal -- our search, that is -- and that wild success has biased us.

Amazon was a product company too, so it took an out-of-band force to make Bezos understand the need for a platform. That force was their evaporating margins; he was cornered and had to think of a way out. But all he had was a bunch of engineers and all these computers... if only they could be monetized somehow... you can see how he arrived at AWS, in hindsight.

Microsoft started out as a platform, so they've just had lots of practice at it.

Facebook, though: they worry me. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure they started off as a Product and they rode that success pretty far. So I'm not sure exactly how they made the transition to a platform. It was a relatively long time ago, since they had to be a platform before (now very old) things like Mafia Wars could come along.

Maybe they just looked at us and asked: "How can we beat Google? What are they missing?"

The problem we face is pretty huge, because it will take a dramatic cultural change in order for us to start catching up. We don't do internal service-oriented platforms, and we just as equally don't do external ones. This means that the "not getting it" is endemic across the company: the PMs don't get it, the engineers don't get it, the product teams don't get it, nobody gets it. Even if individuals do, even if YOU do, it doesn't matter one bit unless we're treating it as an all-hands-on-deck emergency. We can't keep launching products and pretending we'll turn them into magical beautiful extensible platforms later. We've tried that and it's not working.

The Golden Rule of Platforms, "Eat Your Own Dogfood", can be rephrased as "Start with a Platform, and Then Use it for Everything." You can't just bolt it on later. Certainly not easily at any rate -- ask anyone who worked on platformizing MS Office. Or anyone who worked on platformizing Amazon. If you delay it, it'll be ten times as much work as just doing it correctly up front. You can't cheat. You can't have secret back doors for internal apps to get special priority access, not for ANY reason. You need to solve the hard problems up front.

I'm not saying it's too late for us, but the longer we wait, the closer we get to being Too Late.

I honestly don't know how to wrap this up. I've said pretty much everything I came here to say today. This post has been six years in the making. I'm sorry if I wasn't gentle enough, or if I misrepresented some product or team or person, or if we're actually doing LOTS of platform stuff and it just so happens that I and everyone I ever talk to has just never heard about it. I'm sorry.

But we've gotta start doing this right.
Kennet Dwayne's profile photoMary Tracy's profile photoAnita James's profile photo曉凱王's profile photo
Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!
Luis Levy
Love the honesty. I hope he doesn't get in trouble for it.
I'm a software engineer at a startup, and I found this essay to be VERY informative, as it gives us ideas of where we should be going in the coming years. Thanks for sharing!
Hmm, I tried to share and got a "post you're trying to share no longer exists" message.
+Rip Rowan This is why i like google your own words "Google's openness to allow us to keep this message posted on its own social network is, in my opinion, a far greater asset than any SaS platform. In the end, a company's greatest asset is its culture, and here, Google is one of the strongest companies on the planet" ... i hope they stay that way !!
+Jim Ward-Nichols I think it's OK, it's already gone viral and been posted on the Internet in a few places
Dan Luu
I hope that +Steve Yegge posts his internal Google writings one day, the way he posted his old internal Amazon essays
Oh wow, this is freaking amazing =0
Thanks for sharing!
Very articulate way to state the fact that G+ sucks
Kwan Nam
Wow! That answers a lot of questions I had about G+ and more. I thought G+ had it planned out 1~2 years in advance and releasing 1 api at a time to keep up with the traffic growth. What +Steve Yegge is proposing is a monumental task for a huge company like google. It'd be interesting to see how Google deals with his proposal.
Build as a platform... That's a lot to chew on... Need more time... Thanks +Rip Rowan and +Steve Yegge for sharing.
The decision for Bezos to become service-centric was at odds with Amazon's "launch early and iterate like mad" philosophy. It's always easier to just "get some product out there" than it is to take a step back and do it the right way from the beginning - which is a requirement for building a platform of any kind. Hopefully your insights will have an effect at Google.
Wow. Very eye opening. Thank you for sharing. The honesty is refreshing.
Interesting post. I hope Google can lead in the right direction.. I like to see G+ lunch its API so that 3rd party dev can use it just like twitter and FB has. If all of Google's product can be consumed by G+ API, then that will get dev a real big reason to switch.
Rip Rowan
Just to jump in for a second - I think it bears considering that Amazon was in no way designed as a "service" from the outset. As Steve points out, SaS was, essentially, "bolted on" by edict. So it is untrue that, in order to successfully deploy an SaS architecture, you have to architect it up front, or even that it's best if you do. It's arguable that the Amazon model (build the functionality first, then rearchitect as services) is better because you fully understand the domain before you try to conceive of it as a service.

To use a metaphor, the development of interchangeable parts in manufacturing followed the development of the things being built. In other words, people didn't sit around trying to think of the right way to make screws and tools before they built guns and cotton gins. Likewise perhaps with software - first you have to build the thing, so that you understand what it is - and then you can effectively decompose it into parts.
This could be the greatest thing I've read on here, so honest
I burst out laughing when I read this line: "But I'll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network."

This guy needs a promotion, raise, and flak jacket.

Awesome!! Single best reason to consider using Google+ more seriously again, thank you!
The accidental public-ing sounds like an example of Accessibility taking precedence over Security.
"But I'll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network." I loled
Absolutely stunning in its clarity and strident in its call to act for a business Steve clearly loves.

In the battle for the future of the 5 big titans (GOOG, MSFT, Facebook, Apple & Amazon) every day it feels, to me anyway, more and more like it's Amazon's to lose. I guess i have another reason to think so today.
Hope their just holding out on the G+ API access while the service gets the kick-off kinks worked out. API's have a higher impact upgrade footprint, when you upgrade an API either you have to make it backward compatible to the existing API, or you force every integration that uses the current API to change when an upgrade is not backward compatible.

Early in the release stage, it is probably prudent to wait to release the API access until your confident your not going to need to change much. It would tick off your biggest fans (the developers) to force them to re-work their integration because an API function needed to be pulled for (insert reason here).

I can't imagine Google missed the boat and developed G+ as a product without a solid API backbone. I expect we will see it exposed when it is ready.
Phil H
I understand this was an accidental share but kudos for even writing it for internal sharing - I hope it isn't your Jerry Maguire moment. This post should be engraved onto big brass plates and erected in the boardroom of every company big enough to have a boardroom.
Utterly fascinating, and extremely useful to those of us who are in the process of creating startups!
Thought provoking and honest. And big hats off to Google culture for allowing it to stand.
Well you just changed my day, week and focus. We call Google the great barrier reef we're all walking on. In order for the reef to grow the living coral (developers) need nutrients. Without food - the reef doesn't grow and the ecosystem stops. Twitter is a good example of a closing eco-system. Once upon a time 10 thousand plus developers added services and energy into the environment . Now Twitter has rewarded a few but signaled loudly that they'll take it from here.

I'm a filmmaker who thinks of films as strips of code that are to be spread and empowered via community. Social innovation and impact rely on platform tools and swirling exo-data to connect and grow. Google is my biggest hope for film becoming actionable.

Currently film is silent.

We need the tools to extract meaning and sense out of scenes, issues and stories.

I'm attempting to build a (little) platform that provides documentary filmmakers with executable meta-data that is self generating from their works. The goal is to build a better 'you may like' algorithm that becomes a 'you need to know.' For social innovation to grow beyond the songs of the choirs - we need to find those who need to hear.

I'm looking to Google - help by delivering the platform that goes beyond social graphs and becomes the vital reef system that grows with us and for us.

Thank you +Steve Yegge and +Vic Gundotra for listening.
enjoyed the read; Google tends to get it right eventually; this post will surely help because it reaches "us the users" + that is what matters most...
Twitter is another great example of eating your own dogfood. The New Twitter rollout was a huge success, given the drastic change it forced upon users. And fail whales are practically on the endangered species list now.
Gokul NK
Every developer should read this article. It's all about service(s) ;)
I think that every single CS/IT grad should be required to read this and do the exercises he recommends (study Microsoft's and the Facebook API documentation). If nothing else, this is a fabulous case study in the realm of architecture for the current age.

I also love this memo because it confirms many of the things I suspected or knew (such as Apple's intentional bent toward closed architecture, and Amazon's inherent cultural evil-ness and its source) but from an observer who has good reason to know and understand these things.

Steve should suffer little or no repercussions at work over this -- because he's right, and because sending him packing would simply mean that he'll show up at any of a half dozen competitors who would be ecstatic to have him carrying a badge (and apparently the Rubber Mallet of Thor) for them.
Impressive look into the internal culture of an Internet giant. I have been playing in the developer pool just a little bit with Google, and I was wondering about some of the same issues raised in this post. The APIs for some of the products are just a little weak. There are always some ways to work around that, but things get convoluted real quick. I'm not a good coder, so many times my code fails for a variety of reasons when I attempt to tie two Google services together. For example, I have been attempting to tie Google News and Google+ together in a meaningful way... My end vision would be continuously updated top news stories with a stream of related content from Google+. To me, this would look really cool and be very useful in following rapidly developing stories. I have tried a few approaches but just can't seem to get the two Google services to work together in a way that makes sense or looks good.

With a fuller set of APIs for Google+ and Google News, I honestly think I would have a better shot at producing a useable and worthwhile application. Until then, I'll keep plugging away at a workaround and hopefully get the right combination of code. I honestly hope that Dart will be the platform answer for Google and that as Dart evolves external Google development will be more seamless. I guess time will tell.
This post reminds me of Jerry McGuire's mission statement.
+Rip Rowan @Update 1 : Yeah that the problem of the human kind You can't just say anything because if the person don't want to hear the truth and solution of their problem you ran into trouble

If we could everybody show their mistakes (not the normal one I mean mistakes such as made an decision years ago noticed that was wrong but no power to change) and they would be happy and adept your help.

So I'm glad if someone could speak absolutely free about his thought without being punished. So I hope Steve isn't punished in the end
Thanks for the best post on platforms I've read in a looong time.
Totally disagree that Google's "openness" in "allowing" you to keep this post up is what makes them "great". What would you have said if they had taken it down? Once they start killing posts we have a much different, and much bigger, problem on our hands.
You are right Yegge, in the long run Google is dead-in-the-water, despite all the money and all the techies, because this requires a cultural change and cultural changes don't happen overnight most especially in successful companies...
EXCELLENT! Good to see it told like it is.
Excellent post! Completely agree with the Golden Rule
Awesome read. Very insightful. Hopefully the powers that be at Google will get it and not shoot the messenger.
The post is breathtaking in it's scope and risk ! Bravo !
A brilliant post by Steve.

I have been a Googler before and I can attest to this first hand (Google Postini + Archiving). And I have been asked on more than one occasion at the most recent start up "What is our investment level in the platform? Why are we investing so much in the platform? Can we make sure for the next two years we invest heavily in features, build solutions and not the platform" by well informed but near sighted board members. I think they meant well but trying to explain the difference in few words has not been easy. I think this post provides a sound basis for a comparative/referential answer for those questions. I can't say for sure Microsoft was more successful in the OS/Desktop world because they built a platform. Nor can I conclude for sure Facebook will be more successful because they built a platform. I can, however, see the odds of being successful is far greater with a platformy approach than a product approach.

Thanks Steve Yegge. I am looking forward to the accidental moment when we find each other on the same co-ordinates at the same time.
Wow, just wow. I never even cared about the intricacies of sites like these until I read this. That was a great, and eye-opening, read.
+Christian Klotz - how do you know it is truth? Could it be an opposite example of human psychology: people immediately believe in rants?
Hats off to Google for allowing this post to stay public!
I don't think Steve fully understands what his own company is doing at this moment. I think that that is the biggest fault you can attribute to the management. The problem is that if higher management would let everyone know what they are going to do in more detail they will have a whole lot more shit to handle than employees who are in the dark.
+Vladimir Kelman, that wouldn't be out of the question but then again, that's verging on calling it a conspiracy. In the event that you're right, at least there are some interesting points made in the post that would serve as a helpful tip for those in this line of work.
John, I agree that it is an extremely interesting rant.
+Steve Yegge I have been with Nortel Networks, the one that unseated ATT and then went bankrupt. While I was with Nortel, I saw two attempts on transformational changes. One to retrofit a "platform" to the run-away success DMS product line, the other to change a traditional telecom culture to a web culture to instead of thinking traditional "dial tone" to think "web tone". Both failed and the latter one arguably contributed significantly to Nortel's demise.

I believe both attempts were the right stuff but we failed in execution. In hindsight I think I understand why.

Firstly you can not fundamentally change your product without changing your development team's cultural thinking. In other words, you can not change the "platform" without changing the "culture". Simply put, if your team does not think "platform" they will not be able to build "platform" products. Conversely if you are selling non-platform products successfully, you can not effectively change your corporate culture to think "platform". Product and cultural changes go hand in hand and they must be done concurrently.

Secondly, company culture hardens with product successes. It is difficult for the company to see why their corporate culture need to change since they are so damn successful. Whatever they have been and are doing must be right! Right? So if they have not been thinking "platform" and their product is still successful, why should they change their thinking? The problem is the market changes on a dime, fundamental corporate culture and product changes takes time. Time was what killed Nortel. They just ran out of time to finish those changes they needed when the market turned on them.

It is hard to argue about Google's current product successes, which I believe is its biggest impediment to change.. Google needs some bloody-minded visionary to drive the changes from within despite of its current successes or have someone like FB scaring it to change from outside if it is to ensure its continue success in the next decade.
I'd just like to say from my experience of having worked at The Hut Group and Autotrader UK web services are never EVER designed up front. More often than not your services will, like your agile project grow over time along with additional features.

Often the massive problem with exposing your application as a service to the outside world is that people become reliant on it. So without some form of versioning like old Java1.4 you become as reliant on it as jobless guy is on his benefits.

Versioning is a huge pain in the backside it basically means if you ever want to move a platform forward you have to have deployed in your production environment different versions of your services, this becomes ever more complex if the data model changes over time. Designing APIs is a huge challenge and one that gets harder over time as applications evolve.

Heck just look at the criticism the Java API has had over the years!

Seriously appreciate your honesty here and it's been an interesting read. Anyways I hope my insight adds something useful to the debate.
Google has always had a special place in my internet life. PLEASE do not fire this guy. Actually it is because of posts like this being allowed to go public is why Google has my utmost loyalty!
I hope Google will change, increase font dpi must be a must have for 40+ users, even an app that would allow you not to wear "Googles" watching PC monitors - I always set to 14 and 100 dpi fonts but it must be easier to do, also Reader must be integrated in G+ putting blogs in circles and managing RSS feeds as entries in a separated or merged timeline - as you wish - Gmail can be at G+ look and feel too, and of course Wordpress has just done it, make an API to merge comments from and to blogs as FB comments even allowing bloggers to merge Fb and G+ comments to and from the both social networks.

But G+ is young, and Google is still on time to change that.

I love comments at G+, I read a a lot, and is a very interesting way of adding virtual friends when you find interesting comments.
Interesting read (even though I also don't get what a Platform is suppose to be)
This dovetails with my feelings about the inadequacy of Android. Just days before Google Plus appeared and filled a void that my life didn't really have, I wrote a relatively tiny rant about it Actually the shortcomings I see there could largely be viewed as the failings of also.
But these are great.I still love Google for your simplicity, ethics, and great products of course and would like for you guys to get + right so that you can take it to Facebook. Their interface is so bad, you'd think that Microsoft lent a hand...oh wait...
This post was so awesome that I opened Google+ in Firefox to +1 it...seriously
Yeah, even the dig at Sony was totally on target
Great critique! I would have used less polemical language, but I think the take away despite what could be deemed "offensive" is very important, not just for Amazon or Google, but for what it means to make a communications hub in the digital era.
Someone needs to promote this bloke. Frankly it does the company a lot of good to have posts like these come out, it shows the passion within the company.
I am glad that your managers allowed you to keep this post open. It shows who they are, and is a proxy of the organization.
If +Steve Yegge gets in trouble, no problem, write a big book about this and we will buy!
Good read. Really hope this doesn't get taken down.
Sorry, the post you are trying to share no longer exists.
Rip Rowan
+Rob Gordon you miss the point - Steve took the post down himself because he never meant it to be shared publicly - I offered to take it down immediately but was told, in essence, "let it be."

Most companies would have just killed the post. And removed it from the search engine.

Google isn't like that. Which is why it has a winning corporate culture which we should support.
Interesting read. But is he comparing what it was like at Amazon 6 years ago (he did say he's been at Google for 6 odd years). Surely in that time Amazon has changed their systems, their offices, their culture?
Great article. I connected with the lines about Google Chrome not adapting to the user's needs. I recently complained about the lack of a "reload all tabs" buttons. No reply or button.
Amazing. At the end of the day we're all eating our own data trail.
Intel also subscribes to "the Golden Rule of Platforms" - Intel tests processors with processors - "Eat Your Own Dogfood"
Outstanding writing, insight, and guts. Employees like this change companies. Rarely do you see anyone with the passion and skill to analyze their situation and voice so clearly the conclusions they draw from it. Bravo!
That's honesty, good luck with larry & sergey
this article deserves a print out and a nice frame around it ;)
+Rip Rowan I disagree that 'most companies would have just killed the post". I think most companies would not have. I also think you might want to take another look at that "winning corporate culture" - the very fact that it took him six years to post some relatively mild criticisms proves that may no longer be true, as do many other things.
Absolutely fantastic post, must read for anyone interested in Technology. Google should promote this guy and make him lead an initiative.
Great article.
(chrome does have a default font size the options window) otherwise everything else seemed spot-on.
Wow. This post is not just relevant for Google; every company needs to follow this. Brilliant.
+1 +1 +1 +1 +1.... times a trillion!!! :) Honestly is the best policy in my book!!!
Change items being designed cars or equipment... or whatever "product"... and you have a similar issue. You hire people to fill needs to make more money now, as that is the culture. The future state / to be vision gets lost in getting results right now.
I hope Larry, Brin & Vic are listening.
+Adorjan Harmse Me? I'd fire this kid yesterday. One problem with engineers is that we fail to take business into account when running our mouths about what the business ought do. I totally disagree about the limited, brain-dead abomination that is the Facebook platform. It frankly reminds me of Windows Millennium in its cluster-fuckage.

Platforms are not the end-all-be-all, except for the fanboys who love them. As for the API, release it as features are frozen, not because we geeks want to make a name for ourselves during the beta. Give me feature frozen API's and leave me the fuck alone. I dont want to program against a moving target, something that we learned to avoid at Microsoft.

What disturbs me most, is the downright disrespect of other methods. I can only assume that this is the rough draft of a resignation letter (it better be) and the author has his angel funding and is about to show all us dummies how its done?

For the crime of having no "Esprit de Corps" I would just vaporize this kid before sunset.
i'm not a developer, much of this went over my head but the message was clear. incredible reading!
Wow. Great read. Thanks for sharing.
The time I spent reading this post was TOTALLY worth it. Thank you for sharing, we really appreciate. I'm currently building a platform and I'm facing the exact same problem.
I like G+ but this is not a global success. I like this posting and I hope they take the great essentials.
Excellent piece. Not being on the inside, I might add that from out here it looks like you have a brilliant organization. Maybe too brilliant with a B2B culture. Create some tension - hire left and right-brained people. Hire for ability. Hire to be Different. Because there is a vacancy. Apple stopped being Different along time ago.
One heck of an "Oops" +Steve Yegge but thank you, thank you for the enlightening (and entertaining) missive.
And incidentally thanks Rip Rowan for the great repost.
Steve may have accidentally sent this to...well everyone but he might have also accidentally saved the world. Who knows.
Jun Yan
I see a problem with Google's management. It seems its employees don't have a proper channel of getting their ideas across. So ends up blow out to the public.
Awesome article! Google is always a "web" company instead of a "service" provider.
"The Golden Rule of platforms is that you Eat Your Own Dogfood"
great reading, thanks for share
+J.C. Kendall with all due respect, I think your reaction to his speaking his mind by firing him would simply breed a culture of "yes-men". At google, I have long heard that if you speak your mind, and you are right - senior management tends to listen. Otherwise actual honest internal / critical feedback will wither on the vine, and you will lose talented people. Anyways, I found it to be one of the most interesting pieces I have read in a long, long time. Epic. He is addressing the problems of a product company that needs to become a platform/SOA services company.
This article deserves love for the Jeff Bezos ripping alone!
Gee . . . I wish I could "clip" this as one of my favorite G+ post.
+Cameron Siguenza Nope. This is not an external document. This is something best sent up the chain. Google is charitable if not misguided to allow it to remain public, as it serves no purpose beyond a detailed rant. I have no problem with strong opinions, but this is not one that should have gone over the firewall for many reasons.

You dont put your employer in this position, right or wrong. I can confirm that Google management is very good at listening to their staff, which makes it all the more curious as to why this has seen the light of day. I think this does not get written and posted this way unless all sides know the kid is on the way out the door.

This not exactly an upward mobility action. Have your opinion, share it where it can do some good. If you shared it up the chain and they told you to fuck off, then shut the fuck up and do your job, or find another place that better appreciates your point of view.

I've been both a developer and a manager of developers and had the kid worked for me, wrote this and not showed it to me first, before posting it public, I'd be handing him a box.
The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. This man should be praised and his advice taken to heart at every level of google.
I've been following your writings for years (avid Emacs user, found you through "Effective Emacs" back in 2006 or so), and now work at (a subsidiary of) Amazon partly because you inspired me with Stevie's Drunken Blog Rants. I am disappointed I didn't think to circle you on + earlier, but I'm thrilled to read your thinking about design at Amazon/Google. Amazing points, great read, glad you're keeping this public.
Excellent share. Glad to see you expressing how willing you'd be to take it down if requested - class act!
I don't understand a thing he said, but boy howdy, I sure like the way he says it! I admire his courage in doing so. If you are listening Google, give this guy a raise and a promotion!!
What an amazing post! Never apologize for your opinions.
That bit about the G+ API made me laugh. I remember being excited, "ooh boy, the g+ api is available!" I rushed over to go see it, expecting to spend a little time. It was like getting amped up for a full-length movie and finding out it was really just a 5-minute short.
Not a bad essay on modern software development. Without the Amazon rants (justified or not), its a good tale of agile, SOA and the importance of platforms.
+42: "Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network."
Quite frankly, while a good read, it's far from being "The best article I've ever read about architecture and the management of IT.". Devs are usually quite outspoken and I'm used to seing similar internal email threads. Working for a company, even if that's company is Google, doesn't mean you're brainwashed, people have their own opinions that not always go in line with the company ones. And it's good that they have them.

The only difference here is that this one has gone public by mistake and being Google everyone, including the "press" is ready to go bananas "oh shit Google is doomed!".
The problem with G+ is it's NOT a platform. It's too much of a pain to post something here because there's no third party app support. With FaceBook I can have it automatically post my tweets, so I just use my mobile or desktop twitter client to tweet without actually having to visit the site. There's no way to set up any apps to automatically post updates to G+ like you can with FaceBook.
I've always though Google was shooting themselves in the foot here. Google needs to understand that I want information to come to me not for me to have to search it out. Write some solid apps for other operating systems. If they don't someone else will and I will use their services. I don't run Chrome OS, I run Windows, or linux, or OSX. What happens when I miss something because I closed my browser.
Wonder how the stalker API is doing for Rip Rowan. How many people have added Rip to their Circle within da last 6hrs ? Any stat's on that ??
Yikes, 6-year grudge alert. Bitter much?? I totally get the point & pretty much agree across the board, but the chick that wrote this sounds like my 14 year old little sister who "reminisces" about her Barbies being confiscated when she was 8. I suppose some of the other bad habits one accrues from being a disgruntled Amazon employee (like lack of professionalism) don't die either, huh? Publicly bashing a former employer is definitely not a "class act" as others seem to think. Good luck with that bit of Karma!
+J.C. Kendall - that's probably why you aren't an engineer or a manager of engineers at Google. The "kid" has 17 years in the industry, and at top companies. What do you have?
+Peter Dawson actually I got Scobleized earlier today and that was pretty crazy, but the circlings leveled off. I don't think this post is resulting in a lot of circles.
Awesome article. captures the thoughts brilliantly...amazing!
+Steven Harper when I read that post I asked him personally, and he told me I could leave it up. If he changes his mind, or someone in charge at Google asks me to take it down, I will.
Really enjoyed your views. You truly are a wonderful writer! I would hope that you will be recognized, rewarded and then put to task in leading this effort. You know what needs to be done. Make it so.
+Rip Rowan Thanks for info.yes, its good that Google and allowed you to retain public. Its interesting to see culture thoughts about a brand in the open. I think by the very nature of permitting this to remain public, resonates well with dev groups, thereby leveraging brand equity. I would say very smart move by Product Mngr/Team leads.
Thanks Yegge for the excellent post. The platform vs product point well taken.
Google: Give +Steve Yegge a raise. Like right now. If he get's vilified internally rather than praised because this went public, then you're making a Huge Huge mistake. For bonus points you could actually listen to him as well.
+Rip Rowan He has taken his original down - and has tried to get the internal guys to clean up - I thought that would be a good enough hint. - However your free to do what you want.
I like how I can't share this. I found it via a friend on Facebook. I can share it on Facebook but not on Google+. It's a public post, why not?
+Steven Harper I didn't need a hint. I asked him personally, and received his answer. No guessing.
+Justin Thompson the original was taken down. On G+, you share the original content, not the reshare.
Wow. Very interesting. I wonder what about the Google culture makes it so difficult to do what Steve is proposing. I guess because they only fund projects with resources that have a specific monetary value or something like that? In other words, is the issue that creating a platform and focusing on SOA is a huge effort but does not have an immediate or clear ROI so it doesn't fit into the Google culture?
I Love Google+! More APIs please.
+Mark Ciccarello I'm not going to get into a pissing contest with you over my qualifications. However, I am a former developer, dev manager and exec at Microsoft and J.P. Morgan. I've been in this industry for 26 years, and most of you are "kids" to me. It is a word, not an adjective. Now, we are all entitled to our opinions, are we not? Cut the crap.
+Jeff Whelpley my guess (and it's only a guess) is that some things have to be done by fiat, and Google just doesn't run that way usually.
+J.C. Kendall Yes, we're entitled to our opinions. Except Steve Yagga, apparently. Though Google doesn't seem to have an actual problem with it.
Awsome article! Really interesting. Thanks for sharing it!
Amazing insight. Thank you. And to those of you in the biz, who think those of us outside the biz don't care or find this fascinating (or even understand it).... wrong.
This is like a Seth Godin blog on speed. Somebody promote this guy.
+William Ellis I know, right!?! It's like reading Spolsky, back when he was still relevant.
someone in the valley gets platforms, finally :) I preach this to startups. And developer programs should make average devs look like heroes--it's so key. Nice risk, hope you survive it.
o Bryan
Probably the best post of the year online regarding the current state of the IT industry.
Anne H
I hope Google+ Is reading all of these comments. If so I would like to say this: DO NOT PREDICT what we like, ask us in a survey. A monthly survey. As to what changes might be needing to be changed if any at all. The overall percentage should give you an idea of what we want. Come on! Facebook hasn't even figured that out yet.
Case in point re: dogfood and platforms: Is anyone doing anything much other than POCs on AppEngine without totally refactoring or lobotomising their app?
Very insightful, especially the recurring theme of "here's your product and here's how you'll use it and here's how we configured it for you." Not happening. The savvy quickly get sick of a product that thinks it knows what I want better than I do, and - here's the real essential point - it doesn't actually improve the experience of the clueless. I hope Google can reflect on this and take action without getting trapped in executive ego.
Interesting views. Though, if you've been a long time Microsoft watcher, they do have some of the same issues with groups fighting, star teams, etc. That's got to be part of life for any behemoth. But yes, Accessibility has clearly never been something for Google. If this post is genuine then it comes as a surprise to me that platform could be a blindspot for Google. Entertaining rant nonetheless.
+J.C. Kendall I appreciate your sentiments to a degree, but that's the kind of culture that really doesn't solve problems, it just covers butts. As you state it, it boils down to "love it or leave it." Maybe he wrote this because he does love it, and doesn't want to leave it. Maybe all these companies who feel so entitled to our personal data and private lives should allow a little light inside themselves now and then, as a show of faith... and maybe that's exactly what letting this stay up is. Ripping it down now would be to succumb to self-delusion: it's out in the wild, and pretending it doesn't exist would be kind of sad.
MOST AWESOME. Easily post of the month with two weeks still left in October.
Sorry, the post you are trying to share no longer exists.
+Rob Munsch Why not send it up the chain? Why put it on blast? Unprofessional. He might be a fine developer. That is irrelevant. Its bad form. Very bad form. Microsoft devs have a habit of blasting the processes out of Redmond. To a man, they wait until they are out the door.
+Mark Ciccarello Then it should have stayed in house. By all means write it, but dont go public with this; it helps nothing.
+J.C. Kendall first of all, you don't know whether it helps anything or not. It will certainly get noticed. I've seen many companies ruined because upper management didn't "get it," but I've yet to see one fail because an engineer shared his technical opinions in public. Second, you have no evidence that it was deliberately made public. Third, I don't hear the author or for that matter Google asking for advice about it.
Tried to share this post but apparently the original post has been deleted ... only our comments keep the text alive! I volunteer to give all of Google's employees a free workshop on social media etiquette, because this person obviously should not have been sharing this information in his PUBLIC circles...
This transition is quite familiar, I am working on quite similar changes. companies need to focus on what value they can add to customer experience. The only way to do that right is by experiencing and learning from your own value addition.
Best developer piece I think that I've ever read. Complete respect to Google for allowing this to stay in the public domain and to Steve for writing it in the first place.
John T
Excellent read. Bold!
C'mon Google - learn from Android!

Give us the tools to play with, and a place to see the the outcome before out eyes and we'll write all the free apps you need to sell your product.
Rob Gordon
+J.C. Kendall "I'd fire the kid in an instant"

That would be a great way to ensure that no one ever gives their honest opinion there again; that no one speaks truth to power.
When you have to eat off your own table, soon enough you'll start to clean it up... but you need to have a team that cares.
I found this critique of Google's lack of platform savy to be extremely interesting. I personally don't have the experience or expertise to agree with or criticize his points. Rather, I found it pleasantly thought provoking about numerous considerations I had consciously thought about as well as some I only had gut feelings but couldn't formulate as clearly.

It's very unlikely we'll see a verbalized response to these criticisms from Google. That's a shame from a strictly selfish point of view. I realize all technical issues have at least two sides and I'd love to hear as well thought out perspectives on the contrasting strategies and points of view.
Brin and Page would be smart to post that everywhere. But so would other companies.
Why can't I share this post????? Grrrrrrr......
The sceptic in me thinks it as not an accidental post. The greater sceptic in me would say it's a publicity stunt by Google. However, I honestly think this just smacks of a clever guy who loves his work but is SO frustrated by people not seeing the common sense he does. Any big organisation is like this. Good for him for making this public.
talking from the aspect of the telecommunications industry perhaps google can learn a bit from cable company's having to roll out a new platform when the majority of your customer base likes the old one is hard (though this is not the same as trying to implement a platform) this is done at break neck speed in my industry and effectively. who among us even recalls the advantages of Passport? not many that's because MDN is better, but that's a whole other ball of wax. the important thing not to loose is knowing what you are doing in the end will benefit your user at least as much as it benefits you...
Thank you; for your notes and ideas. Not being in "the know" about the way it works it is interesting to read. Part of the cr48 program...again I think another mistake is the cr48. But, time will tell and see if Google attempt is another mistake over the tablet of Apple.
Hy Bing
Very informative read.
I like this. Why does it feel, as a user, that every service from google is separate from all the others? Why do i feel like I have to go to Google+ and then go to Google Music and then to gmail? Why can't I have them all nicely integrated? Heck - how come google readers podcast subscriptions be reflected in my Google Listen Android App? And why is it always so hard to get that to happen from a programmer standpoint? It feels like Google is very good at creating stand-alone tech... Not so good at allowing it to work together - which would be a thing that SOA would start to allow.
I can't speak to Google (I haven't worked there), but I was at amazon when Steve was and can say - nailed it. The irony is that went I left to work for a start up a few very wise and experienced managers told me that I was in for operational hell. In reality, my pager has never been quieter.
The Guy is a genius.. I hope they make him a team leader of what he just suggested. DO NOT FIRE HIM.
very cool - 10,000 foot view on the big boys - thanks!
This started so well but bored the shit out of me just as the point should have been made. Succinct ?
You spent several paragraphs describing the most horrific, balkanized development environment. All I could think of during that entire segment was how badly I never wanted to work for Amazon. Then, somehow, you switched gears and pointed to the fact that Facebook had somehow done this well, and then advocated that EVERYONE adopt this service-based architecture.

The fact of the matter is that AWS is really fundamentally no different from products like Heroku, which doesn't give two shits about APIs or extensibility. Sure, AWS is a useful product, but it owes nothing to balkanized development philosophies. In fact, I'd argue that Amazon has succeeded in spite of its web site: the entire experience is perpetually stuck in 1997, and users suffer through it simply because it lets them get that 30-pack of white t-shirts for 30c cheaper than Macy's with next-day shipping included.

Honestly, what I took away from this is that even the people trying to "fix" Google don't know what the problem is. Google has a Comp Sci vision from the top down. That means you guys will crush life when you're dealing with problems that can succeed in spite of zero UX, UI, design, usability and business insight (like search), but beyond the algorithms, you guys always trip up because you lack that human vision. That's in your company's DNA and switching to development philosophy X won't change shit.

Don't get me wrong, I love Google products, and their engineering for the sake of engineering is second to none. You guys just need to realize that when you try to tackle problems like social networks or mobile phones, the lack of human vision will hamstring you. You need to stop dicking around with this constant stream of disposable, ill-conceived products (wave, buzz, google+, google desktop, goog-411, etc etc etc) and tackle the hard problems that play to your strengths.

Google needs to get back to its roots. You guys got the best minds in the industry and just solved two huge, previously-insurmountable problems: search and spam. Go solve speech recognition or computer vision or build something that can simulate an organism based on its DNA.
And to think, when I've provided feedback on G+ like "Needs Google Music integration to show off libraries and have a Last.FM vibe", and "Needs Docs integration to allow sharing files quickly and easily" - it's because there's no easy way for these projects to interact. Weird. I honestly would've thought Google of all companies would be excellent in this area. Google Calendar should be providing event organization from day one of G+ - it's one of the key features of FB.

The gentleman in question is simply awesome in giving his opinion. Whether this rant should have ever made it to the outside World or not is moot - this guy has passion, enthusiasm and determination, and is focussed on getting Google where he believes they should be. No one can fault a rant like this, if it's done with the company's best interests at heart - it clearly does. I hope Google Higher-Uppers consider this as a "We need re-enforcements to win this War"

Google+ can be a killer product, as can many of your other products - but they need to link together, and be a unified platform. They need people to focus on pulling them together.
You kidding me. This guy won't be fired. He just tripled the traffic to Google+. :)
This article is popping up everywhere.

He should have mentioned too. It seems like they get the whole platform thing.
Alan S
Lots of interesting points for anyone in software development.
Great post, thank you for the honesty, sharing and taking the time to write it. Oh and yeah google folks for keeping it public.
Nice post. Too bad it's not longer available for sharing or reposting, save copy-n-pasting.
Nicely written together. But I think one can even condense it further: Google is the search page. Google is massively successful in that. They don't want to change that page. They are too afraid. Turning the search page - or even gmail - into googleplus is way too big of a risk to take. So they take the low road. And get what they gamble with: low return. Gmail has a lot of useless crap yet googleplus could have been build right into it. What's more - search; what google is good at - works even better for the web than for your own email in gmail: no suggestions, only matching complete words,...

You are absolutely right. Google wants to have different products. To toy with them. See if they become as game-changing as adwords. And else, just discarding them. They certainly NOT want to integrate their products together as that might 'pollute' the product. Yet it shows a lack of vision; and commitment.

If Google wonders why so many of the good ones are leaving, I believe that is part of the problem/solution. Ultimately if you have multiple good directions, it's better to choose one than to go for all at once, even if you have quasi-unlimited mon(k)eys ;) Vision, that's what Google needs! Letting it all come together... internally and externally.
Very insightful Steve; you obviously understand the power of platforms to dominate entire ecosystems and produce long term lock-ins!
I look at your insight and try and think how it could apply in places where I have worked. Well done with this post and I wish Google and you and your team the best
Put him on Google TV so it can finally live up to its potential to change the world.
"Start with a Platform, and Then Use it for Everything." - Absolutely spot on !
I loved the part about Bezos and Amazon :)

Steve should be promoted and work very close to the Google+ team.
Wow, came here for some G+ dirt and it turned out to be an engrossing and delightful read. Perhaps this is a stealth move to gain interest in Google+ because, like Google's management, I haven't used it for anything in quite a while ;-)
If he doesn't get sued for libel he should lead a meeting laying this out for his department. I hope this being out there improves Google because even though I don't have the vested interest he does, my life would improve with a better Google. I hope that he really doesn't end up with a visit from the Bob's for this.
I think sadly you've made yourself un-hireable. But you should be elevated to management. You are obviously a passionate and committed employee but equally sadly the level of engagement with employees is lacking. As you say "they don't give a shit about your day"
This sort of frank and honest writing it what the world needs... both in the tech sector as well as other industries.
That's almost very good. But my Chrome has adjustable fonts in the options page. Facebook is not successful because it's a platform - it's successful because of timing, luck and momentum. Funny that Apple are hailed for their great mobile platform and easy API's yet Google's Android is ignored.
Google's tradition of pushing technologies out early (in beta) to mature in public should not be used as a stick to beat it with. There may only be one API (though there are, in fact, more) for Google+, but history tells us that there will be many more API's released as time goes on.
So, all in all, a post that, on the face of it, gives us an insight into a company with a fundamental flaw. The reality is a post that is just plain wrong. In my opinion, of course.
Beautiful and brilliant. Nice insight into what everyone actually wants to hear and find out. How do individuls feel they stack up company to company. Very great read.
Problem with Google and platforms is that Google is fundamentally an advertising business. APIs scare the hell out of the old timers because it means that you can bypass all ads.
The IT version of Jerry McGuire. That was some mission statement!
+Rip Rowan, thanks for the due diligence to verify it was cool to share and actually sharing this post. it was insightful to a less-tech-y user such as myself but educational and entertaining to read nonetheless. cheers!
Great post! Although I know well Google is an "engineering driven company" (means they give lots of rights and respects to engineers), it still makes me appreciate Google's culture more because not every silicon valley company allows their engineers/employees to spit rants freely, even internally.
Changing the default browser font size will make lots of websites a mess, cause that won't affect other html elements. CTRL-+ or CTRL-mousewheelup are not that bad things actually - and it can be set in the preferences. So, what's the problem? Why would I need to change the font size when I can set the whole page zoom?
I worked at Amazon around the time Steve Yegge did (and I remember him from some interview loops). Most of what he says about Amazon around then is right. The thing about charity is only about 50% right; I worked on a Red Cross tsunami effort for them around Christmas 2004. Amazon's usual method is to have a lot of people other than Amazon do most of the charity work. (BTW I own stock in both Amazon and Google.)

At the time I went through the SOA thing I thought it was because Bezos might, at any given time, want to sell off any chunk of Amazon's business, and thus he did not want it all glommed together using internal APIs that could not be separated out again. It did not occur to me that he was building a platform, and it may not, at that time, have occurred to him either. It seemed to me at the time that he was thinking about treating different developer groups as if they were different startup companies.

I am sad (as a non-Google employee but a Google shareholder) to learn how far Google has to go on this.

The Accessibility thing he says is right. Probably the lens Amazon sees that through is tailoring each page to what they know about the customer and their past purchases. It's not totally about your font size (though I too prefer bigger fonts). It's about making your page your page.

Mass media has to look like mass media, because of the way it is made. But a mass-customer Web site that is "self-service" does not have to look that way. (Apple, at the iTunes Store, still does not get this, it looks like what you used to see in the old days when you walked in the door of Tower Records. RIP, Tower Records.)
May your light shine on those hiding in the darkness
what if Steve (or a whole bunch) wrote this to <pretend> to have falsely posted it publicly to increase the traffic around it? boosting the ultimate honesty-joker. also a possibility :)
That is culture thing to determine if the business stays running for the next 5 yrs. We'll see where FB goes by that time
This was a great article, well thought out and highly interesting. Thank you for sharing! "Do no evil!"
I think what +Steve Yegge is envisioning is that some of the links I see in that black bar at the top of all of Google services I use were created by third party developers. That all of those Google Services can talk to each other and interact. That I'll see my Google+ notifications with my incoming emails, that there's a pop-up or notification or something from Google Calendar as I'm using Google+.
I hope Google listens and makes the tough decision to revamp.

Here's for a better Google.
I have always complained about Google's lack of love for the development community. But, they do try hard. This rant was EXCELLENT and I'm sure much needed (whether they realize it or not). It's good advice for us ALL actually...
Awesome, thanks for sharing! Nice insight into some of the philosophical differences between these companies.. it's very interesting to see how it translates to differences in products and platforms.
Most excellent! Humorous, to the point and well thought out. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time as you hammered away at the things all of us have thought and just couldn't put them down so eloquently. Thanks for the peek inside Google. I already had a pretty good idea about Amazon, MS and Apple..... Keep up the platform battle.....
This accurately encapsulates pretty much everything I feel about not only Google's external appearance to me as a developer, but also my internal feelings about a lot of places I have worked. Bravo.
Hope you're promoted for this - brilliant (and obvious) insight. Though usually a Jerry McGuire letter means you get left of your own as it can become too embarrassing for those you're talking about.
I've used facebook a couple years & Firefox for 8. I came to google+ because the most recent changes to facebook are not only ridiculous & unnecessary, but severely invaded their users privacy. I started using GG Chrome because the latest version of firefox crashed several times- every day.
MY opinion of my moves to google?
- Starting with chrome- it may be a bit faster and it has YET to crash, but that may be because it is practically a bare browser! with no plugins or extensions to even bring it close to firefox's user friendly tools.
- About G+ - hmmmf! I heard it was THE thing to replace facebook, but was shocked when I saw it for the 1st time. For someone with an online store and needs to advertise, it would seem G+ would be the best place to do it, after all, it IS google! But I find that I am sorely disappointed with g+ as well.
As the author of the original post [+Steve Yegge] states, "a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product.....and google just don't 'get' Platforms or Accessibility...... 'a platform is accessibility'..... 'But we've gotta start doing this right'."
google top dogs got it in their collective heads that just cause 'search' sky rocketed, everything else you did would too- as if by magic! But until your magic wand has waved tirelessly over G+ and Chrome, I'll go on back to facebook with its over crowded walls, and send firefox a support ticket, or maybe even give Opera a shot.
Thanks to Steve- btw, you Rock!- for [hopefully] opening the puffed up eyes of the powers that be at google.
----as stated at the beginning, this is MY opinion, which I am entitled to
Somebody give this guy a prize. That's some good 'Tough Love' type stuff right there. Come to Jesus meeting adjourned. I love the part about the font size in Chrome. Let's see how long that lasts.
Really good piece and hats off to google for letting it live out here.
Thanks for this. I run a small site, a few thousand pages and a few thousand members. I wanted to see what I was doing as a platform on which to launch other things but I can see how I ended up with a product and thanks to your clear writing I can see where I went wrong and how to improve.
Oh yeah, when I write 'I' it is just me doing the development, design, implementation. But I started to think now about how to open out what I have been doing to let others do some of the work of getting what they want from it.

Overall rating
That was a really insightful read, thanks!
The comment "fuck you hit ctrl + on every page for the rest of your life" was truly epic. A thoughtful and good information in this rant. I'm going to be thinking about platforms versus products for a while.
This is straight truth, I feel as though I've fought my entire career to get companies that I've worked for to think API/platform first, and have always failed. At least until the last time when I had to quit to get them to realize it.
My first feed to google after using the + for the first time was to create their api as fast as possible! good to see that people inside google feel the same!
Amazon product landing pages are horrible, no argument there. People claim it converts well and that people are comfortable with it, well people were comfortable with hating Microsoft until Apple schooled them.

I think this post I wrote last year covers most of my feelings about Amazon, and since this post was written I've used the site a handful of times, and I hate it more every time.

Here is an example of a design I made of what Amazon could look like. There are other really great re-designs out in the wild.
Thanks for your incredible insight into the culture of these companies. GOOGLE - DO NOT FIRE!
Wow you hit a lot of nails on the head in that post!

It happens everywhere - I came out of EDS and watched HP fail over and over, then buy EDS and fire all the EDS people, the only people in the room with the CULTURE needed to deliver services. It's not about front end design or technical skills or whatever, you can buy all that - you need to change culture to move in the right direction, and then everything else falls into place. Without culture you get nothing.
I will bookmark this and refer to it whenever I am working on any type of software design from now on.
I think it just got pulled, I'm getting messages saying I can't share it.
This was an awesome read, thank you for posting it. The insights this provides are still quite valuable for someone like me, working at a small company.
Add me as an external dev that'd love more access to google :D
Just for the record, when you Ctrl+ a site in Chrome, it remembers, so you get the same size next time you visit. Awesome+ :)
Standing ovation while sitting down I have tears. If Google doesn't promote this guy, someone else will.
I've been preaching APIs (or whatever you want to call them) as the way forward for all systems I've been working on ever since I accidentally stumbled upon their power -- power which this awesome article draws our attention to. However, as the article concludes, the majority of people just don't get it (or perhaps don't want to get it). They are simply stuck in their box (or circle if we use G+ terminology).
It seems like to get a real touch in developing a draw platform and misunderstanding where is a next destination. We Google+ observed and evaluated Facebook platform as an open source marketplace where new applications can be plugged-in, that is not a case. but the team leader needs to have a courage, confidence and more than those perspectives - vision. To a build a platform with open revolving doors in all directions. Passengers can come in and come out at a certain time. Each person can stay at one kiosk for special interests. That is an application. If a platform can handle such open-source applications from different vendors and software developers who know the standards and architecture of the platform.
Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right <-- 1st para. Awesome.

Of course, Mashable has this story and blows it all out of proportion. It wasn't posted by Sergei, it was from a (no offence) lowly grunt engineer. And Mashable of course completely ignores the other story, about the state of things at Amazon, because Mashable is only interested in bashing G+ at the moment.

Lesson: draft before you post. Then sit on it overnight.

Bottom line: nobody will remember this beyond the next big story.
What an awesome Jerry McGuire moment.
nice. lowly engineers rock.
when I saw s3 turn into aws I felt like Google had a big problem. you're on the money.
Incredible. Even for a rant this gives a good positive insight about google. I always wondered, Facebook has an app on every platform imaginable - some third party developer is doing all the hardwork. G+ seems to be interested only in promoting itself only on android. If google + wants to match facebook, you need a platform, a viable one. And FAST.
Companies the world over should want employees with this much passion!
And the TRUTH shall set you Free !
Wonderful article!

1. Windows = platform
2. Facebook = platform
3. Twitter = partial platform
4. iOS = platform
5. Google+ = API only allow to read streams of individual? Facepalm!

Building platforms is like setting up a large empty piece of land for developers to build unique buildings, stores, malls & theme parks.

If you only give developers bad API tools (e.g. maybe a tiny spoon) while holding back the best API for own use (e.g Mega size machinery & tools) nothing fresh will come out quickly enough to entertain the public.

All google need is to be the governor in charge of "approval" of applications like facebook & Apple did.

Maybe there's more google+ then just a social network which means much of the better APIs are not released because of that...(e.g. linking every google services together...etc)

Overall, great article! :D
I completely agree with the author. The biggest failing of Google is the lack of a service oriented architecture. It took forever for my gmail contacts to be integrated with google voice (in the beginning, I had to import contacts). Even today, if you use the web interface of google voice to change a contact, the look and feel of the contact page is completely different from the one in gmail. My gmail contacts on my android phone can't be changed due to the new gmail contact interface which saves all changes one at a time and constantly overwrites my phone. No where on my phone or in my gmail contacts can I say "Phone wins" on changes. The lack of integration between products is getting worse as google branches out. Google+ reads my contacts in a strange way. My Calendar feels so separate from gmail. In fact, I can't accept an invitation sent by a blackberry user from my gmail. I actually have to go into my calendar, find the new appointment and accept it there. What sense does that make? Google really needs to get it and quickly. They lost a huge web email contract with a non-profit that has world wide name recognition. Why? Because people felt everything was sort of cobbled together. Like if you made the worlds best tires and the worlds best car body and the worlds best car engine then stuck them together with duct tape and got it running. Nothing is cohesive and having read this article, I now know why.
Great essay, I hope he makes a book about all of the major things he has seen as requirements for converting a large group of products into a list of services ... I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
I would also take one written by amazon, especially if it was called "learn from our experience, platforming done right"
You articulated your thoughts very well in my opinion! 
You probably should be working for Twitter or Facebook. :D
If I could figure out how to give you a standing ovation over the Internet, it would SO be happening.
I don'y understnad much of this but it seems to me that Google+ is not going to feed info into other platforms for a long while. Have I got that right?
You lost me after "I was at Amazon for about six and a half years"
excellent article, thanks for writing it, and thanks for leaving it available for the rest of us.
This post has potential to create change I hope!
It feels like technology moves so fast sometimes, but Pubsub, library shelf and SOA are all nearly 10 years old.
Absolutely GREAT! Now...the main thing will be is if anyone at Google internally will look at it and say, "holy shit, this is a problem, let's fix this". History is a great indicator of benefit to those willing to fight the hard fight to make uncomfortable changes in order to effect the outcome of a victory. Look at the example of the Mac OS X operating system. Apple essentially dumped an entire platform and said START OVER! Now look at the company and how many people froth at the mouth for their products and you know what...Google REALLY sucks internally on customer support. I mean...that whole forms thing is a REAL pain in the neck. What freaking genius thought it was a good idea to lock a user out of a Google Checkout account that a person uses for thousands of dollars in transactions because they change their Google Apps password is pure STUPID!!! What is even better is their is NO ONE to call. You have to fill out a stupid form and wait for someone to read it and re-enable your account. What the hell?!!!

I really like Google, but some of the internal processes are pure garbage and why the hell do Google Apps resellers have to send physical checks instead of paying through Google Checkout. What the hell? It is a perfect example of stupid processes implemented by great intentions from foolish people.

Recipe for Success
1. Create a real ecosystem platform that 3rd party developers love and watch innovation happen.

2. Create a real code base that can actually be useful for Businesses/Government/Schools that use Google Docs. Yes, it is great, but you know what, they way Google Docs completely destroys Microsoft files is a real PITA. I mean come or incorporate the goodness from LibreOffice or DO whatever you have to do to fix that crap.

3. Google API's just pure suck or are missing altogether. Fix them and make them easier to use without the requirement of a Ph.D.

4. Have one code base that all of your developers test bugs against.

5. If your pushing Google Chrome, Google Chromebooks, Google Apps, etc products. Use them on a daily basis to see for yourself what really sucks or just doesn't work right and FIX it.

6. If you have to read a help file for an hour or search for an hour to figure out how to use or implement something, it's a problem. (i.e. Single Sign On page for Google Apps help page...Explain to me why a customer told me, "That shit makes no damn sense.")

7. PostIni REALLY sucks. It is hard to use and a pain in the neck to setup. Why is this something that teams internally have not realized and fixed. I sucks.

8. Take risks on standardization and dumping what is NOT working and starting all over. It might just get you somewhere.
so awesome. thanks so much for sharing.
Nice to see a glass house stance with this post. I wish this kind of insight was more readily available from more companies. It will only make for better companies, with better products that are easier to use/more accessible.
Great insight into this and I am glad that Google have people like you who cared, and analysed why Google fails the way they do. You should frame this post in the case of you getting a promotion :)

Accessibility VS Security is a fine balance to reach - and it's not easy. Love the part on the dogfood.

As an outsider, I really need to ask whether google is the following:

1. Service company - The google search which is the core business
2. Platform company - I have to say, with your example G+, Wave and even Docs is not a great platform. I don't need to explain why as you pretty much covered it.
3. Product company - What exactly is google's "Product"? Search? (This ties in with Google's Identity).

I think google has the issue of "siloing" between the different divisions/product/service/platform, and as a user of some of the service can't help but to feel a bit left out.

Steve Jobs was very good in identifying what 90% of people want - mums and dads and even grannys. For people who does not know technology, it is ok to tell them what they need, to do what they want. Google, MS, just give users way too much choices to the point of confusing.

Take Android for example, it took me 1 month to make everything look the way I wanted on my phone (exploring apps to do the stuff that I want). Don't think mums and dads wanted to spend the same amount of time on that. My colleague on the other hand, just want things to "work" and bought himself an Iphone outright rather than getting the company provided Galaxy SII (!!!)

I think everyone would agree to change the culture and mindset of a company of engineers and programmers, takes some serious ultimatum from a dictator - like Amazon. Don't know whether this is a road that Google should head down though.

I agree with you, it would be too late to change down the line (look @ microsoft/IBM). But writing this in the middle of the night tells everyone that you cared enough about the company.

++++1 for a promotion for you :)
For anyone who thinks this post was released "accidentally" I have a bridge in Farmville to sell you.
Google may have made a lot of mistakes, but it has the time and money to correct them. If the senior management is able to be open to constructive opinions like this one, google still has good chance to succeed. Remember google+ itself is also from a different opinion inside google.
I've always wondered "where's the API docs for Google+?" since I want to write something, but then find, eh.. there's none..
Would also love to hear the author's perspective on Yahoo's failure as a platform. I'm sure it will be in the book, which someone will write and we will all buy.
Thanks for letting us see the CHINKS IN THE ARMOR!!!!!!
I posted this to his profile, but I just want to say again... that was his Jerry Maguire moment. Just... WOW...
Loved this post. Very insightful, and the fact it remains shows EXACTLY what the difference between the cultures at Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. Great post Steve, and thanks Google for letting us read it!
I hope google treat the '+1's on this post as a petition to start platforming their services. I would love better access to all things google.
Google is EVIL. I hope the FTC breaks it up.
Well i see no reason why it should be called "accidentally published"
Google is too top heavy to implement these system wide changes. Quit Google, and start your own company. Then sell yourself to Google. I'd say you're good for 250 million in VC funding based on the hype alone.
Guys like this are worth their weight in gold. Speak truth to power, and hopefully, power will listen critically and openly.
Engineers who get this, and want to build next generation platforms, contact me at
Thanks for the article. My 2 cents:

- I came out very impressed by Bezos. ...though, saddened by the thought that yet another asshole has created a new vision of products and platforms. I'm fraught with the age-old question, if being a "nice" guy ever make an impression on this world. No doubt, being nice is a hinderance in this aspect, not to say we have the capacity of Jobs or Bezos.

- It was a bit ironic about "accessibility vs. security", considering that Steve made the "mistake" of posting to the world and tried to retract. I assume that it'll turn out ok, but imagine if none of anybody's comments (or thoughts) could ever be contained. Our world would be a completely different place, and not necessarily for the better.

- I suspect that facebook created an api not because they feared Google, but that they wanted to emulate them. Remember that facebook's main competition back then was myspace, whether it was a product, or a platform. If I recall, and it's been years and years since I worked with Facebook's API, but it was quite sparse too. Pretty much just tapping into your contact's information, posting on your wall. The 'Like' feature was new as of a couple of years ago, but I really don't think there was all that much to facebook's "platform". Ultimately it just became an authentication method into everyone's application. Given your arguments, I'd either rethink calling facebook a successful platform, or redefine platform.

- Google's wolfram alpha API is pretty core to Apple's new Siri "product". I know - a handful of products doesn't define success. I just thought that I'd point out that a lot of the "successful" companies mentioned actually depend on the API's of Google.

- Apple was a computer and OS company before it was a mobile device company. They have just as much experience as developing "platforms" as Microsoft. My coworker would argue that Apple isn't necessarily better at developing API's ... they're better at retiring API's and forcing people to transition. This keeps their platforms light and clean. I don't think that we've ever given Microsoft that luxury - I wonder if we'll ever give it to Google.

- Final thought, and probably my most important... Steve almost defines a "platform" as being a SOA architecture with api's through various services. While that might work for a technically minded audience, I don't think that he addressed the business goal behind this. Saying that 'all products and services should talk to each other in a cohesive manner' is a lot different from saying that everything needs to be built on a web service. I left the article thinking... ok, I love the idea, and know why I love it, but I wonder why he would love it? Back to myspace - was myspace a "platform" for all musicians to share their music openly and freely? ..or did they basically fail because facebook had an api and they didn't? I suspect that they failed because of all of the annoying music that blared whenever you went into someone's profile.

Anyway, thanks again for the insight. I particularly enjoyed reading about your time at Amazon. Bezos should save it for his biography.
Steve confirms some of the fears we have about Google and their direction. It also explains why platforms like Google TV are languishing.
To Rip Rowan's comment, Lego's brick system is an example of building the parts before the finish goods.
Nailed it! I was waiting for the day when G+ APIs would be announced. It was announced, and it was way too underwhelming. All the best Google with G+.
Jeezus you all need to stop sucking this guy's genitalia just because he works at Google. The man wrote a thesis the size of Ulysses to say what could've been said better in one sentence. Even if his point's valid, the way he expressed it put more people to sleep than it won over inside Google.
Very educational to read. Thanks a lot! This confirms many of my vague thoughts about Amazon and Google in a strengthening way.
Greatly written. You set an example on how every employee should be!!!! Kudos and hope Google really grows better. I love Google
time to change, google management
It saddens me greatly to know that there probably won't be any more posts this awesomely interesting and informative that really do get to the nitty gritty of the issues Google is facing and potential ways to solve them. This may have been an accident (or it may not have been) but it definately has the potential to be noticed by the higher ups and change the very way Google operates for the better. Promote this man.
Good reading..

First, I got excited to the point where I wanted to send a link to just anyone I know.. But then I thought that my mom does not care if G+ is a platform or not. As a G+ user I don't care either. As a developer, I also don't care since I don't see why would I have to develop for G+ (or Facebook) any time soon. "Android platform" is closer to me, and what I know is that I would pretty much prefer all the apps on the Android market to be developed by a limited number of trusted Android app providers rather than by just anyone (does someone seriously think that 200000+ applications is what a human being can try during his/her short life?). If a "platform" is a synonym of allowing anyone to add literally any crap to the product, then why don't it stay as limited "a platform" as possible.. that's not for the sake of starting an argument - it's just a bit different point of view(which may as well turn out to be incorrect). After all, the platforms have not been around long enough to say that they are a "must have" feature.

But I'm still excited about the style and attitude of the post:)
It sounds like Steve doesn't have to worry about getting fired. He clearly understands all of this and would probably have several unsolicited offers but I believe he could just as easily go off on his own and found his own company.
I can not believe it, but I see it's real. As an employee of Google, I think that is common to this type of internal communication, but has come to light is a serious error. Anyway my friend if Google says goodbye, in have for you a great opportunity. Obviously if you work with us, do not let you use social networks. Because apparently you do not understand by this big mistake. Greetings.
Thank You Steve Yegge!
Give this guy a raise and a bag o' google carrots and the promotion that lets him wield one hell of a big stick.
Highest levels of google leadership not as observant as this guy and for that he will of course be punished.
That was a great read and interesting insight into the world of Google & Amazon
a great read for so many reasons
As somebody who has been deeply inspired by Richard Stallman and the Free Software movement, and who has great concern about where cloud computing, big data and big infrastructure are going. Knowing that people at Google are allowed to have such open and frank discussions gives me great hope. Thanks!
I enjoyed reading the rant. I appreciate the fact it is still available so that I could read but I am surprised though this was allowed to stay public.

Perhaps they intend to have this sort of PR. To expose risks and appear vulnerable as ever company needs to address their weaknesses. It may serve as an insight for many inside the mind of a developer or engineer. It is fine to discuss internally among your team but I do believe it should serve as a lesson of what not to post on a social media site.

While, I hope the guy doesn't lose his job in a tough global economy the guy should be fired. I had a problem with him bashing a company he hasn't been employed by for six years. How is he so certain nothing has changed? I understand he may have been using it for motivation for his current employer to improve and make iterations on their current products but last I checked this is a technology field where everything is old and outdated in a few months. I felt like he started out bashing Amazon only in the end to say they get it and changes his mind.

He is honest about how he feels about the current state of their own product and nothing gets better without feedback but this guy needs to learn how to actually use the system before he randomly rants and clicks the share button next time.
I thought it was a very entertaining read, and not being a programmer it also gave me a completely different perspective on the future development of the internet...and therefore pretty much everything. Thanks.
Best part is Steve Allowed this post to stay, but how much time did the writer spent on this ? Does'nt he has anything else to do??
Brilliant. a Jerry Maguire(assuming I spell it right ) moment. It takes a lot of guts and genuine opinion to write such a stuff. Steve, you have made a mark in blog history as one of the honest man ever. You may or may not realize, your rant ( is it the right word to use for this kind of work? ) is an eye opener for a lot of people. I am happy that some voice has the guts to shout out to the world and thanks Google+ for making it possible that this post is still alive. I may have to agree that Google does things right. Way to go Steve.
if Google fires you, then they shall add a +1 ( or the whole world may do it for them , one human each ) for their foolishness.
100% correct regarding platforms and their importance.
This is an excellent post! Maybe airing dirty linen in public doesn't fit with some corporate environments, but I think it's healthy - it stimulates discussion and debate, and garners respect both for +Steve Yegge for writing it and Google for allowing it to remain public. The Amazon parts remind me of one time I was dealing with Amazon's dispatch systems...

In 2006/7 I worked for a UK parcel carrier, and we'd been contracted by Amazon to deliver some of their stuff - the project to start handling their parcels took quite a few months, par for the course with a large client as we have to agree service, price and - where I was involved - systems interfaces, including quite dull things like labels, barcodes etc...

Having agreed label layouts and barcodes (Amazon's and ours) weeks in advance of contract commencement, I was dismayed when 48 hours before going live, Amazon asked to add another barcode to the label. Incredibly odd so late in the day - they said they'd missed their dispatch confirmation scanner and it's barcode requirement. Kind of a key stage in the process, but hey, mistakes get made.

I asked for details - Amazon wanted to add a barcode of the same topology and data length as ours - which would've been disastrous. All our scanners were configured to scan one barcode type and ignore all others, and also to reject anything that was not the right data size. Any other barcodes - well all our scanners will "see" just the barcode we're interested in. But with this scenario, our scanners would pick up one or other or both barcodes - chaos would ensue if we allowed these into the sort systems without a solution.

In the end we started with people manually striking through the Amazon barcode with a marker pen at our sort centres for the 3 months it took for the automatic overhead sort centre scanners to be reprogrammed to check the data content and ignore the new Amazon barcode. Delivery drivers, to this day as far as I know (I left mid-2008), have to be trained to identify which barcode to scan - their hand-held scanners were reprogrammed to reject as well, but there's a work/time overhead that can be eliminated with training.

At the time, I wondered how such a bizarre request could come in at the very last minute, and what that said about the management methods inside Amazon - I now have a much clearer insight.
I've never seen so much love and loyalty to a company before. Steve Yegge loves Google. He wants it to be the best. But the frustration of watching the company make mistake after mistake is affecting him personally that, he will still stand up and fight to change the Google infrastructure from within. Plus 1.
This is Awesome! I hope you don't get in in too much trouble for writing this!
I didn't know what a platform was until I read this! Great to hear from someone who is passionate about their 'stuff'.
oh, well, now I think it's a great post, sorry for +Steve Yegge . But I'm wondering whether google should develop more api tools and JUST LOOK ALL THE SAME with everyone else--facebook, microsoft, twitter, amazon--or not. Google have the worlds' most excellent engineers, right ? I suppose there could be way other than just following its competitors' steps, although I fail to point out what exactly it is. ...well,make some differences
one of the best things i've read in a long time.
There's a great book about platform (Platform leadership: How Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco drive industry innovation) published by Harvard Business in 2002. It's still relevant.

I believed Google has been trying to bolt their products together and hope all the dots will be connected eventually. But this is eye-opening from real experience: "The Golden Rule of Platforms, "Eat Your Own Dogfood", can be rephrased as "Start with a Platform, and Then Use it for Everything." You can't just bolt it on later. Certainly not easily at any rate -- ask anyone who worked on platformizing MS Office. Or anyone who worked on platformizing Amazon." In the long run, I still believe Google do-the-right-thing culture will win people over profit-driving competitors...
That rant reminds me of mindsets that I have been in, when I get really passionate about things. However, I have never had the utter willpower it takes to sit still for as long as it must have required, to fully codify that excessive of a thought stream. Mass kudos to you for putting it together.

Good luck getting your platforms idea out of BETA (tm) <?> Google-land. It makes sense, and your points are well presented. Your comments were an interesting counter-point to publicly presented philosophy of "Open Data" meme that Google has championed. It seems to me that a culture of Open APIs would facilitate the Open Data concept among the staff.

I still think that you folks have better platform potential than FB. What would be uber cool would be a plug-in like interface to pass various communication streams through G+. Search could be the front end, and relevant websites could act as portals through which other sites become the digital equivalent of town squares.

I wonder how how many people have wondered how many other people are visiting a site, like CNN... at the same time. Would it freak them out to be presented with a Top10 list. "Google statisticians believe that these 10 people are likely to share your opinions about the content presented on this site." +1 Google Poll (tm) - "Do you think this content is bullshit?" Then you could propagate the poll among those "random" Top10. To grow it outward, there could be an Opposite of the Top10. The poll for the other people would be the Opposite. "Do you think this content is legit?" All 20 people could be tossed into a Hangout and given the opportunity to discuss the content. It could be like The Internet Troll Lottery meets The Wheel O Random Fun.
This makes me want to read everything Steve Yegge has ever written. The little direct experience I have (about AWS and from trying to make software that uses Google) convinces me that his critique is very shrewd. And this is a profound philosophical issue which goes to the heart of the next generation of internet software development. Can a really clever closed product approach win out over a platform approach? There are big trade-offs either way. Twitter created a great eco-system, but found that they had insufficient control over potential revenue streams from their data (hence the tensions with Bill Gross's businesses). Facebook are showing (pace f8 2011) that their best revenue streams are likely to come not from their direct sales to advertisers, but from enabling and taxing the commerce of their application developers. Neither business comes close to rivalling Google's core search/discovery model, but each has rich enough data to mitigate Google's effectiveness. Google doesn't search either Facebook or Twitter well. The place Yegge's arguments really resonate are in relation to Google docs. This is a system the world really needs access to. I hope Yegge's arguments unlock some purse-strings. Excellent post.
I know most folks won't really pay much attention to the comments in the rant about accessibility in the sense regarding people who use assistive technology to access G+ and all other google products. However, my job IS all about accessibility, disability awareness, IT and AT. Anyone who makes a product accessible gets major kudos and loyalty from a host of generally unknown people who are very grateful and appreciative of the efforts. Think of making navigation more intuitive, provide readily available and obvious locations for help information and tips for use. The hangouts features are awesome for ease of use and the ability to have so many people on video chat in the same hangout. I'd imagine Deaf folks would really rock out in the hangouts. The sans-serif font and generous white space presently shown in gmail, google reader and G+ are so helpful for people with visual or cognitive challenges. I dread the time when there comes a bunch of ads that will distract those who really USE the products. As long as G+ and google in general will keep accessibility and universal design as important considerations, there will be growing use of the products with very loyal "customers" and evangelists, like me. Best wishes on the future for this brave OP!
This why Google makes great product...they have people that care
Thanks for this Steve. Google's greatest weakness as a product to me is its complete lack of uniformity and solid UI design, and I think the issues you discuss are important to fixing this. What good is building so many quality services like Google does, many of which provide small pieces of important functionality, without allowing them to talk to each other? It feels like I am going through many different company websites when I browse Google's universe.

Don't forget Yahoo!, which beats Google for sure in APIs.
I neither worked at Amazon nor at Google but I found there is no enthusiasm to work for Amazon in Seattle area. Software engineers yearn to join Google, Apple and other companies but not for Amazon. I get across many who are waiting for their Greencard and they are ready to leave on the day they receive their residency.
Companies like Google are truly serve the purpose of their existence and people have great respect for these companies and I suppose that fuels their growth.
I've thought very similar things about every company I've worked for. If only they listened to people like this.
This was a clever way to get me to actually use Google+ ;-)
Why GOOGLE+ is failing ? I love Google+ but honestly I got bored, all my friends still interact with me at FB. Google+ can work if it provides motivation to visit the site without expectation of networking , for example relevant news , articles , games and other stuff that keep you engaged, and slowly like minded people start visiting and interacting, of course this could be a platform.
I love the post, it's very informative. I'm rooting for Google, but I'm hoping more strongly that this guy's recommendations are heard. Build the right APIs, it's a win-win situation both for Google and developers.
Amazing stuff!
On a second thought, I'm not sure if a "central park" (ie. a tangible platform) will be as attractive to me in the future as it is now. Anyway, facebook is already there, and huge, so it might not be the best idea to invest every effort on building a park and making everybody stick to it, IMO it's the convenience of "public transportation" (ie. accessibility to anywhere, not only to the particular platform) that Google need to worry more about.
Not dne reading yet, but so far, amazing post. Glad it was shared publicly by mistake !

And no, Google+ isn't failing ;-)
saving this epic thread to a text file in case it gets nuked.
I found this a bit strange. I worked at NeXT in the 1980s. NextStep (Cocoa today) is a platform and people built stuff. It could be argued that the iPhone, iPad and OSX on a Mac is because one guy decided to throw out the code that NeXT started with and he built the original NextStep in 90 days. I am not talking about Steve, RIP.

Back then we called platforms a 'kit'. A coherent collection of objects that others could and would use as a useful starting point. You trusted the kit was right or the bug would be fixed once and everyone would benefit. If you want to think in terms of services, fine. The concept is not that different other than the code in a kit is live with the data needed to make the service work.

It seems so odd to hear that Amazon only recently figured out the importance of a platform and that Google still needs to get the message.

Some ideas take a long time to catch on. For more insight, see if you can find William. He gets it.

Sam X
ya, well here's a problem. u talk about Amazon's amazing API, but all their API largely does is cloud storage - where is the API to pull products, searches, integrating with the affiliate program? all bezos did is start a HOSTING COMPANY. so big deal. And amazon itself is like 10 billion in debt. STILL. And also, you article is WAY TOO LONG. you need to summarize it with a few key points for ppl who don't have an hour to read it. but overall, kudos for at least making the effort to write it.
What's the outcome of that story? The guy is fired or got a promotion? Actually, does the world likes honest people? I don't think so.
Great post nonetheless, however, he's likely to get into trouble for revealing internal information.
Go for the whole book; I read this whole post and I hate Software posts and blogs; really hate 'em.
Interesting but insightful, its clear though that the next decade of the web will be ruled by SOA and platforms another reason why Twitter has intrinsic value
Awesome post, indeed! So very true, painfully sincere and rings many bells in the eternal fight of "get it a.s.a.p." vs "build it in the right way even if it takes a bit longer, you won't regret it". Thanks!
Nice to read that the criticism is allowed in the company i love most.
I really hope he is promoted because of this rant, even when we users shouldnt read about the internal discussions he has some insights about building a better future for google.
Thumbs up Steve
Well google did a platform with android, might then learn apply from it. Awesome honest post, I'm glad it got out, hope he does not get any trouble.
Sam H
And the beauty of all this? Larry and Sergey probably won't read it....because they've hardly touched G+ since it's launch
It's the longest post I've read for a while and I enjoyed every single second and it does worth it!
Great insights. I sent this to my entire development team so we can discuss how to become more platform-oriented.
Imagine being able to call a google search API to find friends (free opt-in ads describing your service on their browsing trail) who have read articles similar to yourself, have stayed on identical websites for the same average time as you, have looked for your recent keywords, have made similar purchases, have reaction times (measured by clicking rates) along yours, etc., that these modules would allow you to deploy games, websites, blog, mash ups, etc. and that you would get 70% of AdSense revenues!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nice courageous post. We all love Google. I always thought Google was engineer driven and understood little about interface or accessibility now I realize the problem runs deeper. Google has too many personalities. It should go back to fundamentals and rebuild a platform on that specificity. Thanks for the future.
That's an awesome post! Reminds me of Jerry Maguire when he wrote his mission statement.
very interesting post. thanks for sharing. :-)
by allowing to keep this post public, google is in a way is complying to the Golden rule "Eating your own Dogfood". Good read, honestly put up.
Simply briliant by a guy who loves the company he works for. Google, listen to the guy!
The fact that this is still up means there is still hope. Awesome post. Go Google, don't be evil about your APIs
This has to go down as one of the best position papers for the benefits of adopting a SOA in a company that I have ever read. A must read article for anybody who has any pretensions of being a software developer or software entrepreneur.
Thanks for sharing... and, interesting to see that many +1's for it. We need an API to separate the wheat from the chaff and find pearls like these :)
Talk about EPIC post. phew.. Honestly this is the most enlightening post I've read on G+ (or any other social network for that matter). You are definitely a plus to Google ("Google+"). This shows the quality of staff at Google. And For Google not to remove this post (Apple & Facebook would have removed it in a heartbeat). That shows the resolve to openness and sincerity at Google. Thumbs Up
Very informative and analytic post, this guy actually took the pain to analyze scenarios and suggest a future plan to action. Truly genius
It's a great rant and it should be self evident too. A useful product is more likely to be popular than a useless product. Useful could mean just to end users or also to 3rd parties. I assume Google wants to capture as much data as possible from end users so anything which facilitates 3rd parties (who will draw in more users) is to Google's ultimate benefit.

It's not enough to be a platform though. It has to be a good product first and foremost. Google Wave may well have had a great API but it was a confusing mess of a product. It didn't solve a problem that people could "get", and the user interface was terrible.

As a side note, I bet this rant actually stimulated a lot of tech people to use Google+ for the first time. It demonstrates that a product can succeed if it is provocative. Services should be designed into a product but you need to get people using the service too.
The best critisism read about G+. I hope there are more people inside Google and Android platform like you, who are brutally honest to accept the limitations and look ahead for the goals. For example, it is shame on Google and Android, that they are still not supporting Indian languages on Android phones, despite millions of requests from Indians. There is cloud service available on iOS and Amazon, but Android/ Google is lagging far behind, despite having all the knowledge, money and tools.
Hey Steve, your next job name should be Chief of Platforms from now on. I pity Google if they don't put you in charge of things. It seems you are an expert on this :)
Fantastic stuff. I don't understand half of it but I'm glad there are people around that do. Lots of kudos to Google for allowing you to speak your mind and share your passion.
I tend to agree with Manjunath Srikantaiah and his way of thinking: "What is Google to me? (the plain and average user, not a teen, not a programmer)." Google provides me with gMail because I'm not addicted to storing everything on my own space (pc). When I use Google Docs the changes are reflected both on my Android and pc instantly, and for browser I choose Opera because it offers outstanding customizable search functionality (never even tried Chrome because I have what I need). Browsing, communicating, producing communication. Period. I am not "playing" the FB game (literally), and for me the internet has always been about interest: solving and exploring gives enjoying. I will eat what providers put out there if it tastes good. So, as a non-programmer I guess I now understand why there is no real Google+ integration in my new SE Xperia android phone, only Facebook. I told myself I wasn't going to connect my new android to my Facebook account, but then I really wanted to spice up my phone's contactlist and had to use FB to get the pictures/portraits into the phone. But, on the other hand - the only option for online contact synchronization was gMail via exporting my Outlook.pst and importing onto phone using gMail. This is on what level that I care about functionality. I guess Google always will be like the übermother of search, providing me with 99,8% of all my searching (occationally search locale Yellowpages for countryspesific phonenumbers). But I think I have moved to Timescape-land now (Timescape is Sony Ericssons name for displaying all recieved communication in a scrollable fashion on android device, yes - even FB posts). But hey, I'm sure more API's would be absolutely usefull in the sence that you could end up beeing a platform - if that's what one wants. I just don't see other things right now than better gMAil, better Google+ (as I really enjoyed the resemblance to FB without the eyecandy and useless thirdparty applications that helps you waste your time), better Chrome, better search. And that's about it. And it was very interesting to read your post, really liked it and I don't disagree either. So I may be blind. And the One-eyed may be king. Who uses iGoogle today ( Go Google!
If a google engineer doesn't understand how google+ sharing settings work, what does that say about those settings?
I loathe zero-configuration products. The downright arrogance of them galls me. Google is an egregious offender in this regard.
Thanks for not removing this. It is an amazing read. 
Tom E
cant share this article....
One of the reasons I've never promoted Google services is the absence of APIs. You only have to look at the Python API for Android to realize that even when interfaces ARE available they are second-rate. I really hope this spurs a sea-change in Google's thinking. An incredibly valuable contribution.

Google could do much worse than look at the changes in government that GOSCON has been stimulating for years and determine that they need to be similarly open. Given Google's influence with the current administration, if they don't get platforms soon there's a chance it will have negative effects on changes in governmental openness.
Hope you don't get fired for that mate!
The Google Wave platform appeared innovative, flexible and exciting. The product build on top of it sucked - but could have been helped to high standards if only Google truly supported their own invention. But no, Wave was cancelled due to lack of interest - or was it just because the invite mechanism was broken?
Great post, and thanks to Google for fostering such an open culture! :)
ditto. One of the best things I've ever read on SOA at least. So much insight!
You need to be able to RT this. Where is the RT Button?
This guy should be in charge. His opinions ring true, and offer a rare insight into what's been going wrong at this corporation.
Great HeartHonest Post !

What do +Larry Page & +Sergey Brin Feel & Think about this ... ?!

This is @Heart of Google and the way they see and act for future 'civilisation' .

Best, Ward
Brilliant... and really long and precise argument.
that's great to see what Googlers think about their Previous organization!!!!!
"We think you might really like this new thing of ours. You don't?? Well you should, it's made by Google" ;)
Fascinating read - hope it leads to more stuff from Steve!
Congrats for single-handedly turning around G+ traffic trend!
Great rant. Hope Google get it soon. Excuse me while i go feed the dog.
I am not a programmer, but all of this post made perfect sense to me.
Wow - talk about lessons that need to be learned! It really takes someone like Steve that actually cares and gives a damn, to be open, honest and last but not least... balls-of-steel.
It's been six years, lots of things could have change...
Enjoyed reading your post. Hope Google turns it around!
well all that you just said, but also google doesn't listen to the users anymore or don't care the users anymore, they release and release stuff, that really is nothing to improve the users experience, in some cases restricts more the user. the chrome as you mention is just stuff that is so bad in terms of lack of choices to configure, is just plain ridiculous. And the list is huge.
On fire! Thanks Steve for writing and not holding back. It's changed how I think about building .com's - from application first, to platform first.
thanks for your thoughts. very interesting
It is good to see that I am not the only one that from time to time does rant like this :-)

I know this was not intended to be shared with the rest of the world but as a fellow fighter for the platform idea I am happy to hear from others fighting the same fight. In some organisations one can get the feeling of being the only one in the world that sees the benefits of platforms and is trying to get these implemented.

Thank you for the great post and the insight into the fun world of platform ignorant companies all over the world. :-)
I like the openness in your company to openly rant and discuss such issues in this tone
Outstanding post. Steve may just be the Adam Corrolla of technology.
Please Google jus listen to this guy!
Reading this has left a lump in my throat. If Google takes this to heart they can dominate the desktop market inside of 5 years, dwarfing Microsoft even. Yet Steve's rant here spells out exactly why I think I have a better chance of doing that working alone than the entire Google team. Steve was right that very few people get it, and even fewer people get the Accessibility issues with the design of such a platform even when they do get it conceptually. Google's ChromeOS is presently a doomed failure, for the same reason I only use Chrome for Google related access. Shame too because Chrome is absolutely the best browser in terms of doing what web developers actually expected a bit of code to do.

Many times I have attempted to make Google into a personal platform with browser scripts and custom programs, only to have weeks or months of worked trashed by Google changes. Just look at the extreme thumbs up given to the bellyaching about Googles image display. I don't even use Googles image search anymore, it's a total waste of my time. I use privacy oriented search engines that use Google results, not for privacy, but just so my tool set created for organizing and searching different fields, such as, is not broken by Google.

Google is not alone in this. The Linux platform itself has been a hairbreadth away from seriously contending with Microsoft since the late 90s. But the idiotic desktop developers (and don't have a freaking clue and want to blame their problems on stupid users. In the Linux case it's not even the platform orientation that's the problem, rather it's the same hard limits on the users that defines Chrome, ChromeOS, display style limitations of Google's web and picture search results, etc. Google, listen up to what Steve has said or your days are numbered and your pipeline products will go the way of Google Buzz.
While I agree with once accurate observation, thoughts and suggestions. I do see the same thing happening many other companies. I work with GE Energy as contractor and observe, share many thoughts like this. no one gives a damthing about it and they will pay lot more cost or eventually lost.
no comments...its so complicated but at the same time so simple. All developers should read this post.
My respect for Google grows with each passing moment this post stays up.
I am REALLY REALLY REALLY glad I read this article. Thank you for saving me the hassle of not building my future products as platforms. Now excuse me, I have to rewrite three apps from the ground up.
Like the insight & transparency this gives to end users about at least 2 huge companies (or konglomerates already?). Always makes me wonder why successful companies make themself the practice target for haters, out of no-transparency-policies. Power to the customers. After all we pay the companies bills. ;)
This is a lesson in service oriented architecture like no other, an insiders view into how different companies opearate, and a standard for constructive criticism like no other. Kudos to Google for not pulling the post.
hey, hello from the future! with Google I/O 2012 around the corner, this long rant is very important to remember... 
this is such a wonderful work...:)
This is honestly one of the most fundamentally profound and important articles I've seen in years. For me a bigger discovery than the Higgs Boson. :-)
I haven't +1'ed something in a while, but this one is a true gem.  It's a great comparison of the culture of Google vs Amazon vs (to a smaller extent) Microsoft and Facebook.  This is also an interesting comparison of the approach these companies take to constructing their products / services / apps.  It's true that you must design to create a well-documented service or API and then layer your product / UI over the top of it.  And that UI better be good - imagine Facebook's rich service layer with MySpace's UI (shudder).

In my opinion, the king of platforms would be Microsoft.  Their services are almost all public, extremely well documented, and EVERYONE publishes about it.  Forums, hints, tips, code samples, documentation, human-readable documentation rewrites, magazines -- everywhere you turn, there is info on Microsoft's services.  This covers pretty much all of their products - operating systems, commercial products, web / cloud services.  The fact that I can rattle off these many lists really tells you something.  And yes, they eat their own dogfood, meaning that they consume these publicly known systems internally between programming teams.

There are a number of almosts, like Amazon (less extensive), Facebook (less stable), Oracle (less documentation), and now Google (though their platforms are really coming along now, 1 year since the original post).  The take-away lesson here is that exposing your system as a service gets you integrated into other people's systems.  Your platform gets used and talked about.  Look at Dropbox lately, their service was first to publish publicly and openly, and their product is dominating the cloud storage arena.
I think it is sad that some 99% of comments really agree on this. Did anyone think about the business strategies of Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon? Believe it or not it affects the R&D,
Ted Hu
fb is one of the most unstructured, ever changing api's ever. they break api's all the time. yet they built a so-called platform. i think what is wholly missing is understanding the need to deliver relevant richest client experience, of which content is king. platform just allows you to remove repetition to degree it's measurable. but platform is not king. it is a way to lock-in value but ultimately it is the value that it enables that is consumable that matters.
since then there have been changes.. for once you can set a default font in Chrome...
I still read this post once every few months.  It amazes me everytime.
Stop whining and get back to work..
I hope NOW everyone understands some of the pain points of the QA Manager & we're the lowest guys on the totem pole ... at least until the product begins losing market share.
I wonder how true this still is in 2013. Enjoyed the post regardless.
I see that everybody enjoy reading rants like this but I don't believe everything he said because he was comparing stories which are 6 years apart....doesn't make sense. These firms are very dynamic and fast paced & most of the above statements could be false now. Again this is just one developer's psychology & perspective. His teammate might think differently.  He needs to understand the big picture from the management and business perspective too. Anyways, why so much grudge & frustration?  I think this happens if you don't spend enough time communicating with his team members and especially management.  Seems he has lots of free time to write this blog.  Our firm would have fired the kid in an instant. And they would not hire someone who rants publicly even-though he is extremely talented. Hey look at the bright least he made quite a good number of web fans. Also if the company is selling their products successfully & making tonnes of doesn't care. Success comes with timing & how the top level management executes.  I wish him good luck.
Denny E
It´s a quite reasonable read, but in pure TIMTOWTDI fashion platforms are not the right answer to any kind of problem and not everything that is called a platform is a solution. Consider small Google lab projects that later turned out big needed to be compatible to such a platform from the start. That would take a lot of flexibility away from Google and those projects would waste a lot of their initial inertia.

A mandatory, existing API may reduce the skill set that is necessary to make it, but it limits developers choices as well.

 As far as i understood Google the datacenter technology already provides some kind of platform in the big picture, so it is rather a growing collection of branches but not a monolith that needed to split parts of it into new cash cows. That´s where i think Facebooks or Amazons motivations stem from to create their platform vision and what they are now.

Of course some more API functionality in G+ would be cool, to e.g. increase it´s value in real life or allow some interesting mashups, but at the end of the day it needs to meet some calculation.
OMG ...Less is more.. I would like G+ to work better for me.
If it had a line or two from my latest Google searches ... a link to my lasted viewed Utube video browsing.. a link to my favorite peeps and wot not from my browsing cache in the first couple of inches as a default that would work for me.
jes saying ...this rant is way too long to read for people who have a life. I've read enough of it to believe that this is the right place to say this... even tho I know it will get lost in the sheer volume of words on his page. My apologies if I have repeated the thoughts of others.
My android is not connecting to my server / already have a valid account !!! Into my. GOOGLE + account !! Can anyyone help me with this ???
A bit late, but my company currently faces the same hurdles and I'm looking for more info on Amazon service layer, like discoverability, monitoring, pluggability with various tech stacks and so forth. Any link/help welcomed :)
Apart from garnering a lot of point of views, and the fact that Google allowed the article to live, did it result to the change that you wanted to see?
+Steve Yegge Now almost three years later, how valid is this? What's the status of Google as a platform?
This is an awesome post. Thank you Google for leaving this out here. 
Re Wave, I agree, a great platform, but they forgot to do what they do best and 'productise' it properly - the standard procedure was inverted. 

Also what +Dag Rönnell said - what's today's relevancy? Likewise for Amazon.
3 years later, very interesting reading, thanks. It made me realize that a lot of successful products (Firefox for instance) are a plateform too.
But isn't Android a platform? It has been vastly successful & looks to me like something that has been done very right
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you want a child.(6) You want to be rich.(7)
You want to tie your husband & wife to be
yours forever.(8) If you need financial
assistance.(9) Herbal care(10) if any want
Interested popular in music (11)   if any
want  Interested popular in football club12
Get you marriage to the lover of your choice
if you need any assistance from him you can
contact him via:email or +2348073960324
Amazingly helpful for the way I think about platforms. Thank you. 
So that's why YouTube adopted Google+ comments...and why Google went so aggressive on Compute Engine. This explains a lot! (And what they meant about G+ turning into a Platform instead of a Product - It all makes sense now!

Also, reminded me of this DevOps I/O 2014 video ( I saw a few months back, you can definitely tell Google is keen on open APIs now (but dam, their Google+ APIs are still really limited; third party Devs can't post to Profiles for example, only Pages)

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