Monday, May 11, 2009

web2py support, new datastore backend for apps, and more!

It has been an exciting month and a half for App Engine since the last community update. In addition to two SDK updates, Cron support, new Java runtime, etc., there have been a host of noteworthy community developments as well, only a few of which are mentioned below.

web2py Python framework now supports App Engine
We are always interested in frameworks that natively support App Engine, and the web2py framework recently came to our attention. Completely written in Python, web2py is described as a "free and open source full-stack enterprise framework for agile development of fast, secure and portable database-driven web-based applications." If your framework has native App Engine support let us know and we'll include you in a future blog post.

Alternative datastore backend for App Engine applications released
bdbdatastore is an alternative datastore backend for App Engine applications. Now at version 0.2, bdbdatastore has complete feature parity with the App Engine's production datastore, meaning you can run your App Engine application on your own hardware with bdbdatastore as the storage backend without having to change any of the code written previously to access App Engine's native datastore. Intended primarily for developers who want to host their own App Engine-based apps, bdbdatastore manages to be far more robust and scalable than the datastore included with the development server while being more manageable than larger backends like HBase and HyperTable.

App Engine supports White House town hall meeting
In late March, the White House hosted an online town hall meeting, soliciting questions from concerned citizens directly through its website. To manage the large stream of questions and votes, the White House used Google Moderator, which runs on App Engine. At its peak, the application received 700 hits per second, and across the 48-hour voting window, accepted over 104,000 questions and 3,600,000 votes. Despite this traffic, App Engine continued to scale and none of the other 50,000 hosted applications were impacted.

For more on this project, including a graph of the traffic and more details on how App Engine was able to cope with the load, see the Google Code blog.

App Engine "Sprint" held in Taipei
The Taipei App Engine Sprint was a coding event at Google Taipei office in mid-March. Seventeen Python developers split into five teams and worked for 10 hours straight to build a new application from scratch. in 10 hours. The winning application, Sight History, is a Picasa search-based application which displays a time distribution chart, slide show links, and a Google Map for photos queried from Picasa Web Albums. Only one of the four developers on this team was an active web developer, which illustrates how easy it can be to turn a good idea into a working web application with App Engine and other Google APIs.

Earth Hour 2009 site hosted on App Engine
Earth Hour, an initiative of WWF, encourages individuals, businesses, and governments to turn off their lights for one hour to show their support for action on climate change. The site aims to raise awareness of climate change and to show people and companies how easy it is to take action to avoid global warming. After launching this past December on App Engine, the site was able to scale seamlessly to handle over 450 hits per second during the Earth Hour event on March 28, making it one of the top App Engine applications served that day.

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