Friday, September 4, 2009

App Engine Launcher for Windows

As recently announced on the Google App Engine Blog, the 1.2.5 SDK for Python now includes a GUI for creating, running, and deploying App Engine applications when developing on Windows. We call this the Google App Engine Launcher.

About a year ago, a few of us recognized a need for a client tool to help with App Engine development. In our 20% time, a we wrote a launcher for the Mac. Of course, not all App Engine developers have Macs, so more work was needed. Thus, a new crew of 20%ers set off to write a launcher for our App Engine developers on Windows. Although Google is spread out across many offices around the world, it is surprisingly easy to connect with passionate engineers. For example, this new launcher for Windows has contributions from Dave Symonds in Australia, Mark Dalrymple on the east coast, and more engineers here in Mountain View.

The Windows launcher is written in Python and uses wxPython for its GUI. This means (with a little care) the launcher should work on Linux, and we'd like Linux developers to have the option of using it. Although we ship a binary of the Launcher for Windows (thanks to py2exe), shipping binaries for Linux is a bit more challenging. Fortunately, Google has a well-traveled path for solving this problem. For example, Google O3D provides binaries for Windows/Mac; it also provides source code and instructions for building on Linux. Thus inspired, we've open sourced the Windows launcher so that developers can use it on other platforms.

The goal of the launcher is to help make App Engine development quick and easy. There may be other tasks you'd like to integrate (e.g. run tests, re-encode images before deploying, etc) and with the launcher now open sourced, you can add them! We look forward to seeing contributions from the community.

We have also started the process of open sourcing the Mac version of the launcher. The source code is now available; however, it references some missing Google libraries, so it won't yet compile in its current state. Fortunately, those libraries have also been open sourced, so it will be possible to get things up and running using entirely open source code. I'll be using more of my 20% time to clean up the Mac launcher project in the coming weeks.

We hope the launcher will improve the workflow for App Engine developers. We also hope the source code will enable developers to adapt it to their needs, just as we do on Chrome, my main project. Finally, I am proud to continue a tradition of openness which began with my very first project at Google.

-- John Grabowski, Software Engineer

Let us know how the launcher works for you.

Open Source Code for the App Engine Launcher: for Windows and Linux, and for Mac OS X.

Screenshot of Google App Engine Launcher for Windows

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