Google App Engine: Developer Freedom or Sharecropping?

The Google App Engine wows some, worries others.

The Google App Engine is drawing a wellspring of developer interest and support less than a week after its announcement.

But others believe that developers using the App Engine will become trapped in a closed environment.

Among the converts, Appcelerator, a player in the open source RIA (rich Internet applications) space, on April 11 announced that it had updated its platform to allow applications built using Appcelerator to be seamlessly deployed to the new Google App Engine.

Used together, the offerings give developers a fast route to developing, deploying, managing and scaling their applications, officials at Appcelerator said.

Google App Engine enables developers to run their Web applications on Google's infrastructure. Applications run in a secure sandbox environment.

"You can serve your app using a free domain name on the domain, or use Google Apps to serve it from your own domain," according to a Google Web page describing the Mountain View, Calif., company's cloud computing offering for developers. "You can share your application with the world, or limit access to members of your organization."

The Google App Engine features dynamic Web serving, persistent storage, automatic scaling and load balancing, APIs for authenticating users and sending e-mail using Google Accounts, and a "fully featured local development environment that simulates Google App Engine on your computer," Google said.

Moreover, Google App Engine applications are implemented using the Python programming language. The runtime environment includes the full Python language and most of the Python standard library. Other programming languages are being considered for future releases, the company said.

And the App Engine SDK (software development kit) includes a Web server application that emulates all of the App Engine services on your local computer, Google officials said.