Google Reduces Support For Python, Dart And Flutter
Wednesday, 01 May 2024

There are many reports that Google has removed people from its Python, Dart and Flutter teams and possibly more. What does this say about relying on Google as a source of technology for your projects?

The first thing to say is that there is no reliable single source for this news. Google has confirmed that it has laid off members of its Python team and plans to move development elsewhere and it has done the same to the Dart and Flutter teams. Most of the information about the situation is coming from social media posts by members of the teams affected.

The impact on Python, which is a huge open source success, is likely to be insignificant for the community. For the individuals involved it is more serious and it is claimed that one of the people let go was on the Python Steering Council and others were active in the wider Python community, specifically PyType.

At first sight this looks damaging to Google and its future use of Python, but it is unlikely the company cares that much about where Python is going. It is used internally within the company to create some products and, of course, there is the small matter that Python is important in AI. However, none of Google's use of Python needs much in the way of innovation - what's already available fits the bill. Why bother to invest in the future when the present serves well enough?

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As to Dart and Flutter, your opinion depends on where you are coming from. Dart is Google's replacement for JavaScript and Flutter is a cross-platform UI that lets you create apps for Android, iOS, Linux, macOS and even Windows. You can also add Google's Fuchsia operating system to this list, but its future doesn't seem as bright as it once did and it was hit with layoffs earlier this year. This is a more important reduction of support than in the Python case as a lot of programmers have their product locked into Dart and Flutter without much hope of a future if Google drops support. Even though they are both open source the don't have the momentum that Python has.

Of course, the remaining team are putting on a brave face and claming that the everything is still full steam ahead. A post on Reddit from the Dart/Flutter product manager reads:

"We know ya'll care SO MUCH about the project and the team and the awesome ecosystem we've built together.

You're nervous. I get it. We get it.

You're betting on Flutter and Dart.

So am I. So is Google."

But wait, here is the main issue - is Google betting on Flutter and Dart? Over on Android it has Kotlin and Kotlin Multiplatform and anyway why does it need to encourage programmers to make their Android apps available on iOS?

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We all know that Google has a repuation for shutting things down; the Google graveyard is a crowded place. Some programmers take the attitude that Google really is not to be relied on and the only defence is to not use Google tech. However, this particular incident is a lesson in what is or is not trustworthy. The real question is not so much "can I bet on Google technology X" but "is Google betting on technology X".

In the case of Dart and Flutter it is difficult to see what commercial advantage Google gets from them. Indeed, at the time they were launched I asked myself the question, "why has Google done this?".

Google optimizes its profits, not its value to the community.

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More Information

More layoffs for the flutter team

Mastodon

Google layoffs: Sundar Pichai-led company fires entire Python team for ‘cheaper labour’

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 May 2024 )