My Road to Google Hacks

I'm happy to announce that the new edition of Google Hacks has been released into the wild. I started working on Google Hacks, 3rd Edition earlier this year and now it's finally hitting the shelves. I had the fun task of contributing a slew of brand new hacks to the book, updating existing hacks, and tweaking the structure of the book to bring it up to date. Rael and Tara had already put together two editions of Google Hacks that were fantastic, and I'm glad to be in their company by bringing the book up to date.

Working on Google Hacks has brought me full circle on my personal Hacks Series adventure. In April, 2002—shortly after Google announced their Search API—I put together Google Smackdown to try out the API. I didn't think of the Smackdown as a hack per se, but a few months later I got an email from Tara asking if I'd like to contribute the code to a book about Google. I added some comments to my code, passed it on to her, and that was my first contribution to the Hacks Series. It turns out the Smackdown is a hack, and I'd been hacking applications together for quite a while.

Since then I've contributed three books to the series, one with co-author Jim Bumgardner (Flickr Hacks). In the process I even came up with my own method for writing hacks for the series: How I Write a Hack. The chance to work on Google Hacks brought me back to my first contribution, and if I remember correctly, the first book in the series.

The second edition of Google Hacks came out toward the end of 2004, and nothing's really been happening at Google since then. ;) There was a lot to cover, and this new edition tackles hacking Google Maps, covers working with blogs and Blogger in more detail, and covers tinkering with a host of other new Google applications such as Google Video Search, Google Talk, Google Reader, Google Personlized Search, Google Analytics, and on and on. I also added information throughout about protecting your privacy, and I hope it helps readers understand the trade-off we all make between convenience and sharing personal information with a large company. I found there's an art to keeping up with news about Google, so I included an Appendix of sources you can tune into to stay on top of Google's moves. And of course the book still provides a complete reference to squeezing the most out of Google's Search Syntax, Gmail, tuning your site for Google, their Search API, their desktop tools, and a bunch of fun tricks and games (like the Smackdown) that people have built to customize Google or generally mess around. shew!

I received my copy of the book a couple days ago:

Google Hacks, 3rd Edition

And it's satisfying to see the end result. You should be able to get your copy at bookstores everywhere now. To preview some of the new stuff, check out O'Reilly's page for the book: Google Hacks, 3rd Edition. You'll find a Table of Contents there, and five sample hacks. Happy Google Hacking!

Update: Here's O'Reilly's press release about the book: The World According to Google.