Live Notes from “OpenSocial + Google App Engine Technical Overview” at GSP East

We’re here at the 9am session and this panel is covering the latest release and implementation of OpenSocial and the Google app engine. This session is by Patrick Chanezon and Paul McDonald of Google.

Paul: I think we are at an inflection point in web development. In the past you had to have money and machines to actually build a dynamic, engaging web app. Even after a developer has an app up and running, there remain major financial challenges to overcome on the back end. Developers end up with the balancing act of building new features while attempting to maintain and scale their applications. At Google, we’ve built a bunch of infrastructure to serve scalable web applications to help developers overcome those challenges.

The goal of the app engine is to handle the entire lifecycle of the app creation process, from development locally all the way to running your code on Google’s infrastructure. Key tools of the app engine:

  • Scalable serving infrastructure
  • Python runtime – First language of many supported. You can write your apps in any python module and any third party module. Other languages on the way include Java, Ruby, PHP, and others.
  • Software development kit – You can download the kit and run your application from your computer. All of the APIs are stubbed out in the local environment.
  • Web based admin console to see real time stats around your application, check logs, add administrators etc.
  • Datastore – the same scalable distributed datastore that enables us to serve many millions of users.

Currently we are in a preview period which is essentially a beta. We are testing out the platform and trying to get feedback from our developers. For the time being everything is free up to 5 million page views per month. Beyond that we are offering the ability to scale in a low cost, efficient way.

Pat: The reality that we are trying to tackle is that with social apps you have these cool ideas, you put your server out, then if it is very successful the problem you immediately face is how will you scale. When you are building a back end for an opensocial application the idea is that you are transforming your site into this gadget and then your moving your sites functionality from your site to the site where the application is going to run.

(Pat went on to demo a simple OpenSocial Gift app built on the app engine)