Started working with AppEngine a little bit recently and for the most part, I’m impressed by the ability to just get on with it. It resonated with some of Rob’s post and his idea of “stop thinking, just build” (with the ‘stop thinking’ part given a reasonable and relaxed interpretation on my part). And even jumping into Python again was fairly easy (read ‘nice’). Admittedly, my journey with Ruby has helped big time in overcoming the “who’s-moved-my-cheese” factor when it comes to static typing, intellisense, IDE… well, all the “trappings” if you like 🙂 So, back to AppEngine.
It’s fast, simple and uncomplicated. Some straightforward abstractions and useful mocks (like the user login for example) and even without having to host an app on Google, using the tool chain locally is superb for tracer bullets- even quicker than, dare i say, Rails? 🙂
Once, that is, you get
over with the conventions of the platform and language (which is not huge by any stretch of the imagination). And on that note, i just want to state categorically that conventions are great. Not the kind where you drink good coffee and chat much g33k. The kind where you make a whole bunch of assumptions up front and then code everything according to those assumptions (and a further step of faith: you wire those assumptions into the framework). Yes, i know what they say about assumptions making something out of U and ME. A quirky expression- but is that really an absolute truth? And I’ve noted a different kind of assumptions before.
I feel this is where some of the mainstream programming gets lost from time to time (and with good reason mind you). Anything can happen, everything goes- no real conventions: you get to code *everything*. Joy. (All) you have are classes which you can
abuse to perform functions and in between you get to do a lot of heavy lifting. Then again, what’s heavy is relative.
And in the web application world, AppEngine does a lot of the heavy. Which is great for just getting on with it. Try it. Go on… 60 minutes is all it’ll take.