Google App Engine Answers Critics with New Release

Romin Irani, December 7th, 2010

Google App EngineGoogle App Engine, the PaaS offering from Google has a new release version 1.4.0 of its SDK, paying special attention to requests that developers have been putting it for a long time and removing limitations that received a wave of negative reactions. The new SDK addresses some of those concerns head on.

The highlight of the new features as detailed in the blog post, has to be the Channel API. The Channel API allows for bi-directional communication channel that allows an App Engine application to push updates directly to the browser, without the need for continuously polling for a data update. This could have a huge impact on the kind of applications that one can now write with Google App Engine, especially real-time data applications and multi-player games. The same infrastructure behind Google Talk is reported to be driving the Channel API infrastructure.

One of the pet peeves of an App Engine developer has been that of that of a Cold Instance, where applications with variable traffic take more time for a response when it is invoked from a cold start. With this release, App Engine has addressed this with a combination of features: Always On and Warm Up Requests. The Always On feature allows you to reserve up to three instances of your application, never turning them off, even if the application does not have any traffic. Note that this is a premium feature and costs $9 per month. The Warm Up Requests reduces time to serve requests by anticipating the need for more instances and loading them before user traffic is sent to the new instance.

The next set of features clearly removes certain limitations of the API that were a stumbling blocks for several applications. Now requests from Task Queue and Cron Jobs can run for 10 minutes without interruption. The API Call size limits have also been increased significantly and 32MB seems to be the new magic number. Response size limits for URL Fetch, Memcache Batch get/put requests and Image API request/response limits have all been raised to 32MB. Email Attachments with the Mail API have been raised to 10MB in size.

App Engine has been in the news recently for reasons not exactly to its liking. A developer went public with reasons for moving away from the PaaS platform, that generated a lot of traffic with several folks agreeing on most of the limitations that were pointed out in the post. Google hopes that with the new release removing some of those limitations, doubts will be put to rest about several points raised  along with a positive affirmation of the fact that is addressing developer requests, sooner rather than later.

App Engine is one of Google’s more popular APIs listed in our directory with 73 Google App Engine mashups.

Tags: Google, cloud
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2 Responses to “Google App Engine Answers Critics with New Release”

December 7th, 2010
at 8:45 pm
Comment by: schultzter

One thing I’m still waiting for from App Engine (and any PaaS) is being able to specify the geographic location of my data. I know that means Google (and others) would need data centres in those geographic locations, but for some information people want to know which national laws are being applied to the data they provide – and won’t use your application if they don’t approve of (or trust) those laws.

December 9th, 2010
at 6:00 am
Comment by: Romin Irani

Your comment is spot on. At several places where I have presented Google App Engine, this question crops up often where organizations are stressing that depending on the country’s laws, the data needs to reside at a certain geographical location, etc.

I am not aware of any plans by App Engine to address this.

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