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Google caters to coders with .dev internet addresses

More virtual real estate, this time for developers.

Google's .dev domain
Google's new domain is .dev.

If you have anything to do with building software, Google wants you to sign up to use its new .dev domain.

The internet address for developers is now available to all comers, the tech colossus said Thursday. For the past week, Google let people and companies sign up for .dev addresses at premium rates. But now the prices will drop, for example to $14 per year from one partner, GoDaddy.

Google requires all .dev websites to use encryption to secure their communications with web browsers. 

"Our primary goal for .dev is adoption and use by developers and more secure websites being launched," Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried said.

The new virtual real estate is part of a massive expansion of internet addresses called generic top-level domains, or GTLDs. The growth opens up new options for shorter addresses for websites and email and lets companies use their brand names even if they're taken on more familiar top-level domains like .com and .net.

But it also means new hassles for companies trying to defend their trademarks. Indeed, one incentive GoDaddy promotes is "register .dev before someone else does."

So what's Google's plan for the site? 

"We envision .dev as a home for developers. From tools to programming languages to blogs, .dev is the best place for all the amazing things that you build," Adam Seligman, Google's vice president of developer relations, said in a blog post. "We'll be moving more of our existing projects and launching some exciting things on .dev in the months to come."

Google itself has begun using its .google domain, starting with brand-related sites like diversity.google and sustainability.google and more recently the higher profile about.google. Moving to a new domain is tricky since a tangle of links must be updated, and muffing that can demote pages in search results. 

"I'm really happy to say that the team lost no search equity in the process," Fried said.

New GTLDs are no longer so weird, Fried added. "People are much more aware and trusting of different domains than even just a few years ago," Fried said, pointing to research from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which runs the internet's domain system.

Google and a number of partners are already using .dev addresses: Women Who Code, JetBrains.dev for the programming tools of the same name, and web.dev to help website programmers, for example. Newer ones are arriving, too, as Google fires up flutter.dev for its tool to build mobile apps, tfhub.dev for its TensorFlow AI software, perfetto.dev for its performance monitoring tool and v8.dev, which is the JavaScript engine it uses inside the Chrome browser.

Originally published Feb. 28, 8:30 a.m. PT
Update, 9:44 a.m.: Updates and expands quote from Adam Seligman.