Google App Engine

Google App Engine is a massively-scalable all-in-one application, database, and storage hosting solution released this week by Google. And it has me more excited than I can remember in a long while.

Here's how it works: You write your application in Python with a WSGI-compatible web framework via the Google App Engine SDK and upload it to your App Engine account. Then, you sit back and let the world hit your app as hard as it can and let Google handle the rest.

Sounds simple? It is. This is game-changing!

Dave Winer sums it up nicely:

What you're going to see here that you've never seen before is shrinkwrap net apps that scale that can be deployed by civillians. That's a mouthful, but that's what's coming . . . Python is the new BASIC.

I couldn't agree more.

Unlike Amazon's EC2, S3, and SimpleDB, there are no virtual machines to mess with and you don't have to set up and configure three accounts. As a developer, you do what you do best (develop), deploy, and let Google scale your app.

Bigtable for the small fry

The Google App Engine Datastore API gives you access to Bigtable, the same distributed data store that powers Google's own web indexing and Google Earth.

The application platform

I was talking to Dave about it yesterday and he told me how he sees it not as a competitor to Amazon's offerings but to Facebook's application platform. I think Dave's got a great point. Like Facebook's app platform, Google App Engine lets you use an existing user base via Google Accounts and the Users API. That means that anyone with a Google account can log in to your application with minimal work on your part.

(It is unfortunate, but expected, that Google used Google Accounts for this instead of an OpenID based solution. Ryan Berrett has created an OpenID Provider application using Google App Engine that basically lets anyone with a Google account log in to services that consume OpenID. Unfortunately, it appears to be a bit buggy and didn't work correctly for me when I tried it to log in to this blog via ClickPass.)

Flash on the Google App Engine

When used with PyAMF, Google App Engine gives Flash and Flex developers an excellent platform for building and deploying Rich Internet Applications.

If you want to start playing with this now, check out the PyAMF tutorial for Google App Engine.

I just got the User API working with a Flash application and I'm going to document how I did it in my next blog post (along with a simple example to show you how to architect your Google App Engine applications for Flash and Flex that differs a bit from the PyAMF tutorial.)

Enter your Beta, gov'ner?

I'm not on the Google App Engine beta so I can't deploy applications on the platform. If anyone reading this can help with that, I'd definitely appreciate it (and reciprocate by showering the Internets with Flash and Flex-related samples and information.)