Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Revving the App Engine: backbone for Labs for Google Apps

When we find tools that work well for us at Google, we like to share them with our customers. That's what we're doing today as we launch Labs for Google Apps, a place for us to deliver cool new experimental features to our Google Apps enterprise users. The applications we're launching today into Labs for Google Apps are:

  • Google Moderator: Take Q&A to a whole new level -- manage feedback from the smallest video conference to the largest all-hands company meeting.
  • Google Code Review: Collaborate with others to catch bugs in software changes before you check them in.
  • Google Short Links: Create easy-to-remember links for both your internal and external web pages.

Here's a peek under the hood of these new Labs tools.

Since Google App Engine launched in April, Googlers have been using it to build and port a number of useful applications--some of which are the apps we're launching today into Google Labs.

The challenge in building these features was to design a system to centrally deploy a single application to many (many!) Google Apps customers, each on a separate domain. We needed to create data sandboxes for each customer within the app. We needed to add domain administrator controls. We needed to make it safe and easy to use and we needed big-time scalability. That's why we built these new applications on App Engine -- it provided us with a container that combined scalability and rapid development with our experience building powerful applications that Google users love.

Here at Google, we're very serious about keeping user data safe. We designed safety mechanisms to enforce the separation of namespaces in the datastore so that data remains secure and private on each domain. We also added integration with the Google Apps control panel for customer-level administrative controls.

Today's launch is just the beginning, and we're going to introduce more useful apps into the Labs for Google Apps over time. We also intend to eventually open up this platform to all App Engine developers, so that new and existing software vendors can build easy-to-consume software for the million-plus businesses using Google Apps today.

Want to be a part of it? Check out the Solutions Marketplace and you can pick and choose which Labs for Google Apps features you want for your domain. We've put feedback links in too so you can let us know what's good and what's not--the good stuff may make it into Google Apps one day.

Happy experimenting!

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