We had the pleasure to talk to some of the Google App Engine team to discuss the recent launch that Dick uses the tagline as "Your apps, our servers". We get to chat with tech lead on the project Kevin Gibbs, product manager Pete Koomen, and Guido van Rossum. I don't think we need to introduce Guido!

The podcast starts out answering why Google App Engine was created, and why Python was chosen as the first language. We then hear about the work that goes into making a language hardened for the platform itself.

Of all of the APIs that we expose in the App Engine back-end, we feel that the Database API is probably the most foreign for the majority of developers. Many are used to the relational model for datastores, and our datastore is different. Kevin talks about these differences, and the ramifications that come with a schema-less store. We then delve into the practicalities of having libraries such as SQL Alchemy support GQL which is a functional subset of SQL.

What about lock-in? This was one of the big questions that came out of the community when we launched App Engine. You can see how open the team is to other solutions, and how they like seeing work such as AppDrop that shows how you can do this. The choice to make the SDK itself fully open source says a lot.

Guido discussed how the Python runtime is indeed the full language, but how some libraries are not there. He talks about the reasons behind the choices, which are mainly related to security. As time goes on more libraries that developers really need will make it into the system, often with equivalent implementations. Although a traditional file system doesn't make sense in the cloud, we could very well see a virtual file system implemented.

We go on to discuss a lot more, including:
  • What restrictions are there for serving your applications?
  • What Web frameworks are available?
  • Can you develop Web services as well as Web applications? How about gadget and widget?
  • What kind of traffic can be expect with the free accounts?
  • Can I run these applications on my domain, and integrate with Google Apps?
If you want to see more of the team and play with App Engine, come by a hackathon when it get to your neck of the woods, or hear more at Google I/O.

You can download the episode directly, or subscribe to the show (click here for iTunes one-click subscribe).