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As you may have heard, we've released our IM/Voip system Google Talk into beta. Talk uses XMPP for its communications protocol, and the team has a document outlining how to use a standard Jabber client to communicate with Google Talk. This makes for a very nice programmatic interface for IM. There are interfaces in multiple languages, including Python, PHP, Java and C#, and the Jabber Software Foundation maintains a healthy list of libraries on their site. We hope you enjoy our developer-friendly Google Talk.

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The Adwords team has released a new way to interface with their APIs via PHP. Previously, our client libraries were available in only Java, so we wanted to make it easier for those developers who prefer PHP. You can check out the APIlity code on SourceForge.

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For those of you who have been waiting for the ability to subscribe to feeds from Google News, I'm happy to say you can now do just that. For instance, if you are a chess fiend, you could subscribe to all the chess related news with http://news.google.com/news?q=chess&output=rss. Alternatively, if checkers is more your style, then you could use http://news.google.com/news?q=checkers&output=atom as the feed. Both RSS 2.0 and Atom 0.3 are supported, so you shouldn't have any trouble consuming these feeds.

Topic feeds (like entertainment, sports, or technology) are also available. Read more about it and let us know what you think.

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At the Tuesday night extravaganza Google and O'Reilly announced the winners of the 2005 Open Source Awards recognizing terrific work done in the open source development and advocacy community. The point of the awards was to recognize extraordinary individuals in the following catagories: Communicator, Evangelist, Diplomant, Integrator and Hacker. Winners were awarded a very nice plaque and five thousand US dollars. See the O'Reilly OSDir site to find out who won. Congratulations!

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I traded some email with the Maps team and I saw something in a link they sent me that I wasn't familiar with. To best explain this, first load this map from Berkeley to Google in a separate browser window. Note in the "End Address" section, the Google. Now load this map of Sydney and note the label inside the callout.

If you look at the urls, you'll see a (text) argument appended to the url. This is a lightweight way of linking to Google maps without touching on the maps API. As you can see, you can arbitrary labels to your links like this chocolate shop or this restaurant. Have fun!