An ex-Googler’s guide to dev tools

Many years ago, I did a brief stint at Google. A lot has changed since then, but even that brief exposure to Google’s internal developer tools left a lasting impression on me. In many ways, the dev tools inside Google are the most advanced in the world. Google has been a pioneer not only in scaling their own software systems but in figuring out how to build software effectively at scale. They’ve dealt with issues related to codebase volume, code discoverability, organizational knowledge sharing, and multi-service deployment at a level of sophistication that most other companies have not yet reached. (For reference, see Software Engineering at Google.)

In other ways, however, Google’s internal tools are awfully limited. In particular, nearly all of them are tightly coupled with Google’s unique internal ecosystem. Unfortunately, that means you can’t take them with you when you leave.

The Google diaspora has seeded so many other organizations with amazing talented people who bring lessons learned from working inside one of the world’s leading technology organizations. But adapting to programming outside of Google can be tough, especially when you’ve come to rely on tools you no longer have at your disposal.

Over the years, I’ve learned from my own experience and the experience of lots of others who have left Google. Many of Sourcegraph’s early customers began with an ex-Googler missing code search after leaving Google. I worked closely with these people to understand the gap they were trying to fill, so that we could build Sourcegraph to meet their needs. Over time, patterns emerged in terms of how ex-Googlers sought to introduce new dev tools into their organizations, inspired by their experience with dev tools at Google. Some were successful and others were not.

I thought it would be helpful to write a guide to dev tools outside of Google for the ex-Googler, written with an eye toward pragmatism and practicality. No doubt many ex-Googlers wish they could simply clone the dev tools ecosystem inside of Google to their new company, but you can’t boil the ocean. Here is my take on where you should start and a general path I think ex-Googlers can take to find the tools that will make them—and their new teams—as productive as possible…


Internals of Google Cloud Spanner

“I have learned a lot more internal things about Google Cloud Spanner from past two days. I read some of the portions of the Spanner white paper and the deep internal things from the Google Cloud Next event videos from Youtube. I’ll share the video links here, but I want to summarize all the learnings in one place. That’s why I wrote this blog post. A special thanks to Deepti Srivastava(Product Manager for Spanner) who presented the Spanner Deep Dive sessions in the Google Cloud Next Event.”


Go: Concurrency & Scheduler Affinity

Switching a goroutine from an OS thread to another one has a cost and can slow down the application if it occurs too often. However, through time, the Go scheduler has addressed this issue. It now provides affinities between the goroutines and the thread when working concurrently. Let’s go back years ago to understand this improvement.

122+ announcements from Google Cloud Next ‘19

Hybrid Cloud

  • 2. Anthos (the new name for Cloud Services Platform) is now generally available on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and GKE On-Prem, so you can deploy, run and manage your applications on-premises or in the cloud. Coming soon, we’ll extend that flexibility to third-party clouds like AWS and Azure. And Anthos is launching with the support of more than 30 hardware, software and system integration partners so you can get up and running fast.
  • 3. With Anthos Migrate, powered by Velostrata’s migration technology, you can auto-migrate VMs from on-premises or other clouds directly into containers in GKE with minimal effort.
  • 4. Anthos Config Management lets you create multi-cluster policies out of the box that set and enforce role-based access controls, resource quotas, and namespaces—all from a single source of truth.


  • 5. Cloud Run, our fully managed serverless execution environment, offers serverless agility for containerized apps.
  • 6. Cloud Run on GKE brings the serverless developer experience and workload portability to your GKE cluster.
  • 7. Knative, the open API and runtime environment, brings a serverless developer experience and workload portability to your existing Kubernetes cluster anywhere.
  • 8. We’re also making new investments in our Cloud Functions and App Engine platforms with new second generation runtimes, a new open-sourced Functions Framework, and additional core capabilities, including connectivity to private GCP resources.

How Streak built a graph database on Cloud Spanner to wrangle billions of emails

Streak makes a CRM add-on for Gmail, and recently adopted Cloud Spanner to take advantage of its scalability and SQL capabilities to implement a graph data model. Read on to learn about their decision, what they love about the system, and the ways in which it still needs work.