Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Businesses The Internet

Google Takes Down HuddleChat After Complaints [Warning] 157

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the all-chat-clients-look-the-same dept.
desmondhaynes writes "There were striking similarities between one of Google's App Engine demos, HuddleChat (a real-time chat application) and the Campfire app from 37Signals. Google has taken HuddleChat down from the App Engine app gallery." Google explains: 'The App Engine team was looking for some sample apps to help kick the tires on their new system, so we invited Googlers to build some as side projects. A couple of our colleagues here built HuddleChat in their spare time because they wanted to share work within their team more easily and thought persistent web chat would do the trick. We've heard some complaints from the developer community, though, so rather than divert attention from Google App Engine itself, we thought it better to just take HuddleChat down.'" We noted the launch of Google's App Engine yesterday.

Update: 04/10 14:51 GMT by KD : A reader wrote in to warn that the link in this article is infected. Windows users beware, and have your AV up-to-date.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Takes Down HuddleChat After Complaints [Warning]

Comments Filter:
  • Whiners (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:44AM (#23013600)
    If your business model is based on such a trivial application, why should anyone care if you fail?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Thought1 (1132989)
      Exactly. Get a clue, people. Stop trying to patent the frikkin' XOR cursor loop.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by easyTree (1042254)

        Exactly. Get a clue, people. Stop trying to patent the frikkin' XOR cursor loop.

        That sentence is MINE, BITCH! (Patent #9023092384092384.)

        Early settlements will be accepted etc..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:44AM (#23013610)
    If you want it make it big by offering minimalism don't be surprised when someone does exactly the same thing. The 37 Signals developers and DHH should be ashamed of themselves for claiming huddlechat is a rip off, it is an obvious idea and plenty of other websites had implemented similar chat system BEFORE campfire ever came around.

    It is funny how a company who sells a book on design philsophy complains when someone else uses that philosophy.

    If you deliberately make featureless software don't be surprised when people "copy" it, even as a tech demo.

    Compete and Innovate.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:50AM (#23013692)
      I agree, I followed this controversy and frankly the issue is that both huddlechat and campfire look exactly like many of the AIM clients out there. They have the same layout and very similar features. They even look like toned down MSN chat applications. If you design to the style du-jour it is totally likely that you will look similar especially in a similar arena, chat clients. I think the issue here is that the domain is so minimal that any client who tries the bare minimum of ajax web chat with file uploads will end up being the same. So I guess 37signals is claiming they somehow own the minimal implementation. Well they don't, it is an obvious idea and they should buck up.
      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @01:02PM (#23014496) Journal
        I wrote something like this 5 years ago, so we could have a chat meeting with some clients who were behind a corporate firewall. It wasn't that pretty, but it did pretty much the same thing, and it only took a couple of hours to write.

        I would be ashamed to put something so trivial out into the community and charge people money for it.

        Wish my girlfriend bent over as quickly and easily as Google.

        So, when will Google be taking down every other service offering they have besides search? Everything they offer outside of Search and Google Earth are "me-too" products when you get right down to it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Wish my girlfriend bent over as quickly and easily as Google.

          She does.
    • by StallmanHearties (1270282) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:57AM (#23013784)
      This is also ignoring the issue that this company is selling the software as a service. Which means you are paying for timesharing. If it were free software you could install it on your machine and provide a service to people you care about. You could also ensure your privacy by installing it on your own machine. Timesharing is generally bad because it means you have no freedom to change and 37signals has long had a history of ignoring customer feature requests.
    • by Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:01PM (#23013830)
      Computerized smoke signals
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)
      I'm not familiar with either app, so perhaps I'm missing something. However, how can they get all stirred up over it? Can ONLY "Remember The Milk" do to-do lists on line? Can ONLY Amazon do sales online? Can ONLY Google do spreadsheets on line?

      Seriously, unless the Google version clearly took a trademark or other creative content from them *or* literally took actual CODE from them, then who the hell cares?

      Whiney Ruby bastards.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cmacb (547347)
        "Seriously, unless the Google version clearly took a trademark or other creative content from them *or* literally took actual CODE from them, then who the hell cares?"

        Apparently people who work for 37signals, and all their family and friends, and friends of friends. The Google group on this seemed to have about 3 to 1 diatribes about how evil it was to steal this pathetic concept. If I were Google I would have just told them to screw themselves... but the bad PR 37signals will get for being wuss programme
    • by Joe U (443617)
      Campfire is about as complex as KeepTalking was in 1999. It's not original, it's just flashier.
  • IRC rip-off? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Persistent web chat," eh -- the idea sounds so novel, I'm sure they must have pirated source code straight from "campfire" -- unless this is just a web frontend to IRC, like yahoo! chat or something like that.

    What's the big friggin' deal? Not that I've ever even heard of Campfire anyway, but it doesn't sound unique in any meaningful way.

    and first post.
    • Even if its not an IRC front-end, "persistent" web-chat is hardly a novel concept. Heck, I had it running (in ASP, blech) on a site I created back in 1999 - complete with "rooms" that retained their state/history, searchable logs, etc. It's not exactly rocket science.
  • by Fuzuli (135489) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:45AM (#23013614)
    I'm not sure I am getting the reason for taking this app down. Really. If I were to clone an app to demonstrate a new platform, would that be a problem? So, what is the possibility of Google taking down google docs, in response to complaints from MS, or some other online office software provider?
    No bad intentions here, I just don't get it. Care to enlighten me?
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:49AM (#23013684)
      I think they pulled the app mostly for PR reasons; not that the app generated tons of bad PR but that it was distracting people from what google wanted them talking about. Rather than argue about their right to have the app, they simply pulled it so people wouldn't be able to argue about it on the blogosphere.
      • by kingcool1432 (993113) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:09PM (#23013932)

        they simply pulled it so people wouldn't be able to argue about it on the blogosphere.
        Front page on Slashdot. Wow, they sure dodged that bullet.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mweather (1089505)
          That's not funny, that's insightful.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PitaBred (632671)
          Yup. But their statement made the front page too. Which is the important bit... WHY they took it down.
        • Front page on Slashdot. Wow, they sure dodged that bullet.

          You miss the point. Sure, people were already talking about the app and its similarity to Campfire, and they'll now (briefly) talk about Google taking it down. But with it down, there is nothing to keep that conversation alive more than a couple days, whereas as long as the app was up it would be a continued source of discussion distracting from the aspects of Google AppEngine that Google wants people to talk about, which aren't really the sample ap

      • by klenwell (960296)
        Rather than argue about their right to have the app, they simply pulled it so people wouldn't be able to argue about it on the blogosphere.

        That to me would be the bigger story. Some (including myself) were quick to note this very issue in yesterday's thread announcing the new app engine service:

        Build you new killer app, have it grow to the point where it takes advantage of the trumpeted scaling features of the service, then helplessly watch it disappear when Google PR feels it's "distracting people from wh
      • by raga (12555)

        ... Rather than argue about their right to have the app, they simply pulled it so people wouldn't be able to argue about it on the blogosphere.
        And that's why we are arguing about it here.
    • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:55AM (#23013756) Journal
      So, what is the possibility of Google taking down google docs, in response to complaints from MS, or some other online office software provider?

      As best I understand, the Ruby on Rails cultists are one of the main developer groups they're counting on as App Engine customers, so they don't want to offend its leader. Annoying Microsoft doesn't cost them anyone they want to work with, and might help.

      • by syphax (189065) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:00PM (#23013814) Journal

        This is ./, we don't understand pragmatism. Unless we're coding.

        • "Unless we're coding." ... And in such a case the attending physician should just let most of you die.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Alsee (515537)
          we don't understand pragmatism. Unless we're coding.

          Programmer One: What's this code here?

          Programmer Two explains five pages of adaptive enhanced Quicksort code.

          Programmer One: Wow, those are some pretty impressive techniques to speed up quicksort, and it cleverly solves the Quicksort worst-case running time problem to boot. But we're only sorting a list of five items, wouldn't it be more pragmatic to just use Bubblesort?

          Programmer Two reaches under his desk and literally pulls out home built working replic
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by bheekling (976077)
            Actually, in that case I would go for Comb Sort [wikipedia.org].
            As simple as Bubble Sort, and pretty much as fast as Quick Sort.
            • by Shados (741919)
              Personaly, for 5 elements, I'd just use the sort extension method. You know, like myData.Sort();

              Oh wait, you guys still coding in C++ or something like that?

              (Thisisajokedontkillme)
    • Sour grapes. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:20PM (#23014046)
      37Signals is the marketing force behind Ruby on Rails, and Google's AppEngine is heavily geared toward Django, which the RoR world seems to consider a big threat due to Django's allegedly superior robustness and speed. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd spent their time since the announcement of AppEngine looking for something to act martyred about and hopefully redirect some buzz toward their own offering.

      In which case Google probably did the right thing disabling the trivial app before the buzz hijack could succeed.

      Or maybe I've been in this industry too long and I'm just way bitter, I don't know.
      • ..and Google's AppEngine is heavily geared toward Django, which the RoR world seems to consider a big threat due to Django's allegedly superior robustness and speed.

        The RoR world, at least it's big names, doesn't feel threatened by Django, as they don't care about critics that compares them to other frameworks. The fuck you picture from a talk by DHH [gilesbowkett.com] - enuff said.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by OutOnARock (935713)

        Maybe the RoR gang, with their "The Rails Way" or the highway, are really worried about:

        1. Google using Python instead of Ruby.
        2. Google not drinking the DHH RoR koolaid.
        3. DHH et. al. quaking in their tiny little boots that "Google+Guido+Python3000+the webframework that BLOWS AWAY Rails" will finally put the buggy Rails framework in a coffin.

        Python blows Ruby away. Ruby survives commercially because it has Rails for simple web apps. Not scaling yet to play in the tall grass with the big dog
        • Python blows Ruby away.

          As a language, hardly. But considering the speed of existing implementations, and availability of libraries for both, you are right.

          And I guess Sun commmitting to make the JVM into a VM and guess what the next language will be....Ruby...WRONG.....Python

          And here you're wrong. Jython has been effectively dead for ages, still stuck at Python 2.2 stage (and even that is a rather recent development - it has been at 2.1 for a loong time before that). Yes, Sun has finally hired Jython guys

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mounthood (993037)

      No bad intentions here, I just don't get it. Care to enlighten me?

      I think it goes like this:

      Think in terms of Apple complaining that someone copied the iPod UI. It doesn't seem fair that someone can trivially copy something that takes so much time and effort. Good design should be rewarded and encouraged. Of course I don't know how that should work

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by randyest (589159)
        Judging by the side-by-side shot in the article, I'd say your use of the word "exactly" is unwarranted. Moreover, I'd challenge you to show or describe a UI for such a simple chat tool that looks less like yours than the one google made.
      • Your link was to some article about the minute details they go to in their design; if you looked at huddle chat you would see that no such thing was copied.
    • Call me cynical, but my take on it was a Google self-advertisement :-

      "We built a fully functioning space shuttle over the weekend as a demo of our coolness, but NASA objected so we dismantled it. No biggie."
  • by maciarc (1094767) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:48AM (#23013660)
    They both look like chat apps. How many different ways is there to show a chat window, a text entry box and a list of people in the room?
    • more importantly.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by thermian (1267986) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:12PM (#23013954)
      How is their product even saleable?

      I mean, how much can they seriously expect to make from a cut down chat client when there are a gazzillion billion and two chat clients already out there?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Xsydon (1099321)

      How many different ways is there to show a chat window, a text entry box and a list of people in the room?
      42.
    • by Alsee (515537)
      How many different ways is there to show a chat window, a text entry box and a list of people in the room?

      Too many. Unfortunately some people insist on re-demonstrating that fact in near endless ways.

      Just for starters, you could place the constantly updating (i.e. distracting) people list as a horizontal rectangle *between* the text entry line and text view window.

      Or, for SUPER MEGA bonus points, you can leave the people list on the side and just put the text entry box *above* the chat window.
      (For a fun Fun
  • by tolan-b (230077) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:48AM (#23013666)
    It's just a nice web interface to a chat room, hardly revolutionary. Anyone getting hot under the collar about someone copying it has a great future ahead of them in the patent troll business.

    Sure if they copied it exactly feature for feature and took the interface then it's understandable but otherwise...

  • by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:48AM (#23013668)
    When I need to reach my contacts on the blogosphere 2.0, to let them know, for example when I'm doing lunch, or taking a vac-a, I just que up my batch chat application, que up the chats in that, (including my questions and a list of possible answers) and presto.. 45 minutes later the batch is done, and all of my contacts are notified, and we had a meaningful (though somewhat predictable) conversation.

    I don't know who really needs real-time chat, except maybe pilots, or UAV operators.

  • by phpmysqldev (1224624) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:56AM (#23013772)
    Based on this article I think I will make a low feature program that allows people to look at remote "pages" and view them in a standardized format. Yes, yes similar things have been done before, but my product will be sub par and do nothing revolutionary.

    And if anyone else tries to "copy" that Ill go after them with a vengeance.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So now businesses trying to claim inventions even if they didn't register patents?
    • by evanbd (210358)
      Actually, "Hey, we thought of that first. Don't steal our ideas, please." seems like a much better way of doing things than patents and lawsuits. It seems to me that Google is just being polite, here. 37Signals is being a bit asinine, but if it matters to them and not to Google, why shouldn't they honor the request?
      • Actually, "Hey, we thought of that first. Don't steal our ideas, please." seems like a much better way of doing things than patents and lawsuits.

        No, it's only a precursor to lawsuits, if they do not comply. Jason said so himself [37signals.com].

        "And 1% of the time it requires legal intervention..."

        It's just that it's such incredible crap that, like this, no one thinks its worth the bother.

  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:10PM (#23013940)
    I applaud them for their principled stand, but I ridicule them for this decision. It was surely taken in the interests of staving off a good 'ole web flaming then any sensible grounds. There are so many of these applications of this style and format around that I find it hard buy their argument.

    And I, for one, would find this kind of demo application extremely interesting. It always interesting to see how these things are done.

    Bottom line - I think there is nothing intrinsically special with this kind of application, any of us with a modest amount of programming experience could of knocked it up. It is always interested to see a standard basic application in a new system as a common ground to allow ease of adoption. For that reason there is a bunch of "hello worlds", "simple graphs" and so forth. On a web development system you would expect by the same argument to see "tables", "blogs", "portals" and the "simple chat" as their demos. This is like MS trying to stop the notepad demo that comes with some windows compilers, or LiveJournal trying to stop the blog demo that came with GWT. Totally Daft.

    Go on, reinstate it!
  • by garett_spencley (193892) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:40PM (#23014260) Journal
    Google had spent a couple weeks developing HuddleChat but then they read this [slashdot.org] Slashdot story on Monday and realized that they are all/mostly introverts and really don't like Chat and IM programs after all.

    The 37Signals story is just a cover-up so they don't look silly.
    • by Alsee (515537)
      Jokes aside, it sounds like HuddleChat is exactly the sort of thing to SOLVE the issues raised by the prior story. I have never used HuddleChat and have a limited understanding of how it works, but it sound like exactly the sort of non-interrupting messaging system he would like.

      -
  • by jocknerd (29758) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:57PM (#23014440)
    It would have been nice to see the code for a "real" working app on App Engine.
  • We Stole their idea, and we did it so unsubtly that we can't even slightly pretend we didn't. It was this or get into a storm of lawsuits and bad PR.
    • by cHiphead (17854)
      Wait so are you pretending to speak from the mouth of Google for stealing 37sigs 'idea' or from the mouth of 37sig for stealing the most generic chat interface 'idea' reworked into another language from everyone else?

      I'd really like to know, b/c a developer at Google probably looked at various web chat, IM chat, and IRC interfaces going back to 1997 for inspiration for huddlechat. The idea that anyone can steal that shoddy, generic interface from 37sigs two bit chat app is fucking ridiculous. Or maybe its
  • by Vexorian (959249)
    This almost looks like google saying "won't feed the trolls"
  • I'm surprised most slashdotters seem to think that Google was in the right here. Let's leave out Google's name and see how the story sounds:

    A company with over 10,000 employees duplicates a 10 person company's product feature for feature, even down to the animation effects, and gives it away for free.

    Substitute MS for Google in this story and slashdotters would be flaming mad. It's not that Google just created a similar chat app to Campfire, it's that they created a carbon clone of Campfire, which is de

    • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @02:44PM (#23015716)
      Substitute Microsoft for Google and yes, people would be far more up in arms about it.

      "Why?" you ask? Do you really need that spelt out for you?

      Microsoft has based its entire business history on unethical actions and slippery business tactics. They did not get ahead in the world by being the best at their products; they got ahead by screwing over anyone they could get away with screwing.

      Google on the other hand has based its rep and business practices on delivering the 'best' product. They haven't gotten ahead by double dealing, underhanded tactics, or screwing over people.

      Yes, Google HAS done things that people don't agree with. But none of the things that people point out are deliberate attempts to screw with people.

      Microsoft got in bed with companies telling them that they were specifically planning on doing X, while secretly planning on doing Y. They did this, as has been documented, to give Microsoft an edge in its own competing product.

      Google has had van drivers accidentally drive up someone's driveway while taking low resolution pictures. One had malice in their intent; one simply made a mistake.

      Microsoft stole, actually STOLE, someone's code and distributed it as part of Win9x. They didn't even bother to remove the copyright strings in the binary and only stopped distributing it when they were found guilty by a jury (see Stac Electronics).

      Google had two engineers in their off time who copied an extremely generic idea and placed it in their gallery of "look what you can do with this new toy we have!" and took it down when it became apparent that there would be hard feelings over it.

      There is a reason why Microsoft gets the shit treatment and Google doesn't. And it's not because everyone here has "Google fever". It's because so far Google acts responsibly and ethically while so far Microsoft acts predatory and unethically.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by qaam (609419)

        Good points. I applaud Google for acting responsibly here by taking down HuddleChat quickly. In general Google is a "good" company; they certainly don't deserve the "shit" treatment in the way that MS does.

        Google had two engineers in their off time who copied an extremely generic idea and placed it in their gallery of "look what you can do with this new toy we have!" and took it down when it became apparent that there would be hard feelings over it.

        I agree that Campfire is a totally generic idea; however, its execution is not. Of course it only took Google employees two weeks to copy Campfire... after all, the Google guys didn't have to do any thought, they just had to bang out code to do mimic Campfire's ideas. How long would it take for two Goo

        • by Chyeld (713439)
          Compare the side by sides presented in the article and try to claim again that the two engineers copied anything.

          There is a reason why you can't copyright an UI or an idea but can copyright source code.

          Google's people did nothing wrong.
  • Everyone keeps jumping on 37Signals for being whiners, but they haven't said anything about this in their blog. This is a case of the "blogosphere" getting up in arms about something on behalf of the "victim" without the victim ever lifting a finger.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chyeld (713439)
      Really? [searchenginewatch.com]

      "We're flattered Google thinks Campfire is a great product," said Jason Fried, 37signals CEO and co-founder. "We're just disappointed that they stooped so low to basically copy it feature for feature, layout for layout. We thought that would be beneath Google, but maybe its time to reevaluate what they stand for."
      • by shinma (106792)
        I hadn't seen that article, but that would also be a comment solicited by a journalist. 37Signals hasn't posted anything about it on their site, or the Signal Vs. Noise blog.
  • by hashmap (613482) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @02:07PM (#23015324)
    "We're flattered Google thinks Campfire is a great product," said Jason Fried, 37signals CEO and co-founder. "We're just disappointed that they stooped so low to basically copy it feature for feature, layout for layout. We thought that would be beneath Google, but maybe its time to reevaluate what they stand for." From http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/080408-123318 [searchenginewatch.com]
    • by mosch (204)
      Christ.

      This makes me regret that I give 37signals money every month for a bunch of basecamp accounts. But it makes me *extremely glad* that Highrise has some idiotic limitations on the total number of contacts that kept me from integrating it as the CRM solution for one of my new ventures.

      If you want to have more than 50k contacts on Highrise, you're out of luck. You can't even give them more money every month to solve the problem (I e-mailed and asked. They confirmed this, then ignored my follow-up aski
  • Campfire was released on 16 February 2006 [37signals.com], while we had this on a website I'm an admin at since mid-2001. PHP and some JS. It works to this day and looks the same, although it was rewritten several times throughout the years to use AJAX instead of a reloaded frame.

    No, I'm not giving you an URL - I wish I could, to prove my words, but the server load is high enough without the /. crowd trying the thing out...
  • Google doesn't want to get a reputation for ripping people off, so baseless as these accusations are, they had to pull it.

    Still, anybody who complained to Google about similarities to 37Signals should get a life. 37Signals didn't invent simplicity and they didn't invent any of the application categories they are making money with. Nor is there anything illegal, unethical, or even bad about re-implementing someone else's application.

    (I also find the 37Signals applications overpriced and underperforming, b
  • I don't remember the "moan about other people's demo apps" bit from "Getting Real".
  • http://www.iwannachat.net/ [iwannachat.net]. It's basically a rather modern AJAX persistent web chat. I don't know how it compares with Huddlechat since I didn't follow the news yesterday and now its down :-/

    Please pardon the testing crap in the demo room :)

We are Microsoft. Unix is irrelevant. Openness is futile. Prepare to be assimilated.

Working...