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 appspot.com 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.
It Scales to Hell and Back
However, Appcelerator for App Engine runs on Python, the scripting language currently supported by App Engine. As Google expands support to other languages, Appcelerator for App Engine will, too, the company said.
“The launch of Google App Engine is an exciting moment for software developers and will unquestionably be a benefit to the open-source Appcelerator community,” said Jeff Haynie, co-founder and CEO of Appcelerator, in a statement. “Our platform enables developers to create rich Internet applications without regard for the back-end necessary for deployment, and App Engine is guided by the same philosophy — remove the need for developers to deal with the server side and allow them to put together outstanding software.”
Meanwhile, Alex Russell, creator of the Dojo Toolkit and director of research and development at SitePen, of Palo Alto, Calif., said he believes Google has a true hit on its hands with Google App Engine. Russell, who used to work at JotSpot, which Google acquired in October of 2006, said “they’ve done a lot in regard to the data model that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”
In addition, “they picked a good language for it: Python,” Russell said. “Its infrastructure is a Python shell. It looks a lot like Django, except it scales to hell and back,” he added. Django is a Python-based Web application framework.
In addition, the Google App Engine “data model makes migration simple; it’s designed without constraints,” Russell said.
Moreover, Russell said he believes with Google App Engine, Google “just made MySQL obsolete.”
With a differing view of the Google news, Tim Bray, director of Web technologies at Sun Microsystems, called developers who opt to use Google App Engine “sharecroppers.”
In a blog post on April 9, Bray quoted from a description of the technology on the Google App Engine site and followed the quote with: “… and now you’re a sharecropper on the Google plantation.”
He added: “What a devil’s bargain; Google will make your identity pain go away and qualify a high proportion of the world’s Internet users to use your app. But you’re gonna be on the plantation forever; deal with it.”