Google gives Web developers a leg up with App Engine

Looks to make it easier for more people to get started developing, and to scale their apps.

Early review of Google's App Engine were mostly favorable. Mark Hopkins, a blogger at Mashable

, noted after working with the system that it has the promise of being "game-changing" in the cloud computing business. He did note, however, that the offering does have some weaknesses, though he predicted that they won't keep it from quickly becoming a major player in cloud computing.

First, he noted that the Google App Engine requires developers to use Python as the development environment, which some will not know. Hopkins added that the platform is different from's Elastic Compute cloud offering in that Amazon provides developers with an "a la carte" menu of choices of what to put in the cloud, such as a database, code or videos.

The Google App Engine, however, is designed to completely house a developer's service and to easily integrate with Google services. In addition, the App Engine requires a Google Account for users to access an application.

But, he predicted that the service is likely to be reliable because Google is known for being nearly immune to widespread outages.

"Who's the big winner here? Google, hands down," he added. "Unlike the Amazon cloud, developers don't appear to be asked to pay anything to host their apps here, but the trade-off is that all your users are going to need a Google Account to use your application."

Phillip Lenssen, a blogger at Google Blogoscoped, added that Google might also have an eye on standardizing Web applications in their favor in the future with the App Engine.

"Using the App Engine, it's only a small step to use the integrated libraries to switch to a Google Account for authentication for your site," he noted. "And the more sites make use of the Google Account, the more powerful that account will become. Maybe in future releases of the App Engine, using other services by Google - like their advertising framework - will also be made temptingly easy. Instead of just being one of the Web's most successful players, perhaps Google continues trying to manufacture the board game itself."

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(Heather Havenstein contributed to this report.)

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