Google has released the latest version 1.8.1 of the Google App Engine, incorporating "significant changes" that have come through the continued development of the application.
The new release comes on the heels of May's Google I/O Developers Conference, where many of the latest features and improvements were unveiled, wrote Chris Ramsdale, product manager for Google App Engine, in a June 12 post on the Google Cloud Platform Blog.
"In 1.8.1 we're moving the Search API to Preview," where it moves another step closer to becoming part of the release version of the application, wrote Ramsdale in the post. "The Search API allows your application to perform Google-like searches over structured data. You can search across several different types of data (plain text, HTML, atom, numbers, dates and geographic locations)."
In preparation for the Search API becoming part of the General Availability (GA) release, developers "will only be making slight modifications to the API and adding an SLA (service-level agreement)," he wrote. "Finally, as part of the Preview, we will begin charging for operations and storage. Pricing details can be found here. Note that prices may change between now and GA."
Also new to the latest Version 1.8.1 is support for deployment of Python and PHP applications via the Git tool, according to Ramsdale. "Once you complete the initial setup steps, you will be ready to deploy apps with the same ease with which you push code to a git repository."
Developers can test-drive this new feature by applying to participate in a "Push-to-Deploy Trusted Tester Program."
Version 1.8.1 also gets improved access to the Google Cloud Storage using the new Preview release of the Cloud Storage Client Library, wrote Ramsdale. "This client library contains much of the functionality available in the Files API (Python or Java), but provides stronger integrity guarantees and a better overall developer experience. The Cloud Storage Files API (currently Experimental) and the Cloud Storage Client Library overlap significantly, so we plan to decommission the Files API in a future release. The Cloud Storage Client Library will be upgraded to GA in an upcoming App Engine release, so we strongly encourage developers to start making the move over the next few months."
Another useful feature requested by developers and now available in the new version is a new API for enqueuing incoming tasks asynchronously. "Developers can quickly add tasks to any Task Queue without blocking, allowing your applications to process requests more efficiently," wrote Ramsdale.
In addition, two significant Google Cloud Datastore changes are also included, he wrote. "First, we have improved performance by changing the Datastore default auto ID policy to use scattered IDs. This change will take effect for all versions of your app uploaded with the 1.8.1 SDK [software development kit]. Second, Python developers will be pleased to learn that the NDB library now supports 'DISTINCT' queries."
Earlier in June, Google created a new Mobile Backend Starter that lets developers focus on building and selling their apps by automating the back end of apps development. The Mobile Backend Starter works with Google App Engine. The Mobile Backend Starter was first announced at the Google I/O 2013 Developers Conference, where it was the topic of the "From Nothing to Nirvana in Minutes: Cloud Backend for Your Android Application" presentation.
In February, Google awarded its first-ever Google App Engine Research Awards to seven projects that will use the App Engine platform's abilities to work with large data sets for academic and scientific research. The new program, announced in the spring of 2012, brought in many proposals for a wide variety of scientific research, including in subject areas such as mathematics, computer vision, bioinformatics, climate and computer science.
Google created the fledgling App Engine Research Awards program to bolster its support of academic research, while providing academic researchers with access to Google's infrastructure so they can explore innovative ideas in their fields, according to Google. The App Engine platform is particularly suited to managing heavy data loads and running large-scale applications.