Google App Engine

milkwrecked.jpgFinally Google is revealing some of the means they will provide to allow third parties to run code closer to their assets. Last week was good for Python! Since, we learned that Google’s leading language for developers will be Python. While they assert that the platform is language neutral it certainly looks like only Google can “harden” and deploy a new language. The crowd demanded both an unknown language and Perl, the presenter flinched. That is going to be very rough on the long tail of languages.

I found the 1st and 2nd segments of their announcement videos interesting. Everybody got very nice hair cuts.

There is a lot of value in this offering and the “you don’t have too” theme that runs through out their patter is a strong way to present that. They really are taking a lot of pain out the developer’s job! So while they are probably encouraging the die off of a lot of interesting languages they are enabling a lot of tiny applications.

Their persistent store is cute (note you can’t write to the file system otherwise). I suspect this is a lock-in point, though the semantics of the store look reasonably simple.
In addition to writing to the file system, no pure TCP/IP interfaces, and no threads. Which reflects the nature of the underlying computer. Amusingly this is a non-preemptive computing model, just like the old Macintosh. You have to do all your work triggered by http requests, and those can’t run too long.

I’m fascinated by my emotional reaction to all this. While I’ve rationally seen this coming for a very long time. In fact I’m surprised it’s taken so long! It makes me sad to see the old craft skills become less necessary. It makes me excited to see the opportunities this opens up; it’s always fun with a large population is empowered to author software. That’s one of the big-hard-problems, letting more people be authors.

That kind of somewhat discombobulated emotional reaction in an expert is a good sign in a platform offering. This is going to be big and it is a nice counter point to Amazon’s approach.

One thought on “Google App Engine

  1. ian holsman

    my initial reaction was lockin, but it’s got me thinking what I should be doing inside my company to provide such a infrastructure for my application developers to build on.

    of course .. thats me gripping onto the old ways. I can see myself talking to the ceo about outsourcing our infrastructure to EC2/goog in the next 2-3 years (if not sooner), unless opensource can make it cheaper running it ourselves, which I’m beginning to doubt.

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