Thursday, May 18, 2006
I love what I do (I work for Google's Partner Solutions Organization, writing internal programs and tools to help better manage our partner relationships--check out our job listings), but Google's "20 percent time" recently came in handy. The 20 percent time is a well-known part of our philosophy here, enabling engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren't necessarily in our job descriptions. You can use the time to develop something new, or if you see something that's broken, you can use the time to fix it. And this is how I recently worked up a new feature for Google Reader.
I really like the keyboard shortcuts in Gmail, and they work in Reader too. But when using Reader, I found myself wanting to skip whole sections of stories, and I was wearing out my "N" key (which moves the browser down one item). There are buttons on the screen to scroll up and down a whole page at a time, but I thought it would be nice to have a keyboard shortcut too. I could have hacked something together with Greasemonkey or a Firefox extension, but that would've only helped me and the three other people who read my blog.
So I fired off an email to the Reader team, hoping that they'd be able to add a keyboard shortcut. The team got back to me right away, and they told me how easy it would be to add the shortcut myself. They were right--it was easy, because the internal documentation was good and the code was really easy to work with. Once my change had been reviewed, it went live.
And I have to admit--every time I use the new shortcut ("shift" and "N"), I get a little thrill at how easily I was able to get my idea implemented.
Hope you enjoy it too.