Thursday, October 2, 2008

Google App Engine thoughts

Google App Engine (GAE) appears to be quite promising. The most promising aspect of all is the price, free for less than 5 million page views per month. Unfortunately, Google Page Creator was a service that allowed you to create simple web pages, which is being phased out by the end of the year, so it's unclear to me whether GAE will always provide the free service. The replacement to Google Page Creator, Google Sites, does not allow for the upload of arbitrary pages.

What I'm personally working on for fun is GAE as the business layer of a traditional 3-tier database-backed web application, perhaps a combined scoreboard and repository for a simple game.. By doing so, I think it will be possible to avoid the issues of Google lock-in as well as most of the benefits of scaling. I think the following components will allow me to avoid google lock-in with minimal expenses.
  • A cheap postgres server
  • Web service for database (PHP?)
  • GAE to talk to the database and host games
  • RIA client to minimize work in GAE
I might just serve up the database on my home connection. Because GAE is the only user of the database, I should be able to just use a non-standard port and hope my ISP does not complain.

The RIA client should consist of static files, most likely compiled Flash or GWT. I suspect that GAE is not the best way to serve up the client, but it's probably the most reliable free web hosting that I have now that Google Page Creator is going away.

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