Play Around Google App Engine
I was doing an investigation about which cloud service would be the best for us to deploy for the New Learning Times (NLT) project. Among the services I looked into, Google App Engine appeared to be a very unique one.
The Engine has its innovative way of building, deploying and maintaining projects. Everything around developing including coding, compiling, launching and debugging takes place in an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that is picked against the project requirement.
A very interesting feature about using the IDE is that the development instance always rests locally and can be tested on the localhost before it is pushed to live. Although this can be achieved by using other subversion services as well, with the Engine, developers don't actually need to do anything significant to set up the environment.
The reason for this is that Engine IDE actually carries its own server, compiler and datastore (which replaces the file system and database that are normally used in a traditional project.) The same fact also makes it very easy to push one's work to the production because on Google's cloud the same type of datastore is used and this eliminates the difference between hosts people usually have to handle in pushing their work. The IDE also supports one-click production launching. It automatically uploads the code and starts the site on the Google host. Read more here
Although we didn't pick it as the platform for NLT (mainly because we need more control over the server), the App Engine does have some interesting features that we probably can use in non-production situations like intern or research programs. The all-in-one IDE is very easy to pick up. If our researchers or interns use them in their programs, a good deal of work can be saved from setting up environment. Besides, Google gives a free resource quota to individual developer accounts. That means our researchers or interns can demonstrate their work to the public domain easily if needed. In addition, the App Engine gives projects the access to Google user accounts via APIs. This would be helpful to research programs that involve social network studies.