Google App Engine beta
Easy dynamic Web sites
- Fast and easy Web-app development, uses Google's cloud of computers
- API not as rich as Amazon's SimpleDB, limit on resources
With Google's App Engine, you write a bit of code in Python, customise some HTML and bingo, you've got your database-backed dynamic website up and running in a few short minutes. When the world starts flocking to your web application Google's cloud of computers adapts to the load, handling everything the public demands.
One of the joys of being a Web programmer is heading to a dinner party, a haircut or a reunion and fielding the pitches for everyone's dream for a brilliant Web application. Everyone is always happy to cut you in for 5, 10, maybe even 15 per cent of the equity if you just build out the website that's sort of like a combination of Twitter, AltaVista, Eliza, TurboTax and the corner chemist, but cooler.
Google App Engine is meant for dreams such as these. You write a bit of code in Python, customise some HTML, and bingo, you've got your database-backed dynamic website up and running in a few short minutes. The magic comes when the world starts flocking to your web application, and Google's cloud of computers quickly adapts to the load, handling everything the public demands. There's no need for you to buy servers, load balancers, or special DNS tables. Google's application cloud handles all of the grungy deployment headaches.
We played around with the App Engine SDK and, sure enough, developed and deployed applications on the desktop with just a few minutes of work. We didn't upload them to the cloud because we didn't make it into the beta program, but we were able to simulate the experience on our office server. The billions of hits haven't shown up yet, but it has only been a few hours now. It works and it is quite simple.
Google me this
A trickier question is deciding whether this is really what a future Web application really needs. There is little doubt that App Engine makes it simple to get incoming data, make some decisions, store it in a database and then move on. The more complicated questions are often political, technical and almost aesthetic. There will be a number of programmers who look at App Engine and melt with excitement, and there will be many who tilt their head like a dog that can't understand his master.
Being a Google Python lover certainly helps, but it isn't necessary because the language isn't that much different from the other scripting languages. A good programmer should be able to shift gears quickly and easily. There are rumours that Google has a number of other languages waiting around the corner, but there are equally good arguments that this may not be happening as soon as some devotees would like.
Java programmers, in particular, are used to being known as providing the most scalable and flexible applications because the language and the API are some of the most sophisticated ensembles around. The J2EE standard nurtured tools that simplified some of these problems, even though it never really turned out to be as simple as the sales literature promised.
Today, Java's sophistication is probably hurting the language as much as helping it. A quick survey of Web-hosting services shows that shared hosting for JSP applications begins at a price up to 10 times that of some Python shared services. The JVM may speed things up and provide better service, but it comes with a hefty memory footprint. If the brutally competitive Web-hosting business can support five Python sites for every Java site, then perhaps Google is more interested in the long tail, the niche Web sites, than the big iron.
There are other advantages that probably encouraged Google's choice of Python. The most popular implementations are open source. and the language's creator, Guido van Rossum, works there.
This must have made it much simpler for the company to create the slightly crippled version of Python that runs on the app server. This sandbox forbids some potentially dangerous operations such as writing to the file system, a feature that could pretty much prevent building Flickr-like upload services unless you feel like storing these big blocks of data in the database.
Your code isn't allowed to spawn subthreads, and it better be efficient because it looks like App Engine will kill any thread that takes too long. This is probably necessary given the endless loops that will be created by newbies, but it pretty much means that App Engine is really just for front ends to databases that don't do much independent thinking or computation.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HTC U11 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Gigabyte Aero 15 corporate gaming laptop review
- 3 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 4 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft apologizes after a rogue Windows 10 preview build causes chaos
- Skype's major redesign prioritizes helpful bots and a smart camera over traditional video chats
- All-electric satellites are ushering in zippier in-flight internet access
- Why Microsoft's ARM-based Windows 10 laptops still have a lot to prove
- Microsoft shows the power of its Pen with a new Whiteboard app and other upgrades
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- MSI GL62M 7RDX gaming laptop review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTAnalyst Programmer (Classic ASP / VB)Other
- FTProgram CoordinatorOther
- CCLeas Technical AnalystNSW
- FTLevel 2 Network EngineerOther
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTBusiness AnalystSA
- FTSAP Data Migration SpecialistsACT
- FTSales Client Services Manager (Mid-market)QLD
- FTProject OfficerOther
- CCEUS Junior Application Project ManagerNSW
- FTNetwork EngineerQLD
- FTDesktop EngineerOther
- FTCustomer Support Team LeadNSW
- FTApplication Security ArchitectOther
- FTDevOps EngineerOther
- FTSenior Project Manager - Transmission and RAN DeploymentsOther
- FTProject Implementation ManagerOther
- FTDigital Content ProducerOther
- CCWintel Infrastructure EngineersACT
- FTService Desk AnalystOther
- FTSenior Systems Engineer - Veeam / Shadow ProtectOther
- FTSoftware EngineerOther
- TPProject Coordinator / Junior Project ManagerQLD
- CCBusiness Analyst / Scrum MasterWA
- TPBusiness AnalystACT