Jonathan Ellis on AppEngine: Meh
Jonathan Ellis writes something suspiciously similar to what I think I would write about App Engine (but he actually went through the trouble of developing with it):
Having been eyeball deep in App Engine for a while, I've reluctantly concluded that I don't like it. I want to like it, since it's a great poster child for Python. And there are some bright spots, like the dirt-simple integration with google accounts. But it's so very very primitive in so many ways. Not just the missing features, or the "you can use any web framework you like, as long as it's django" attitude, but primarily a lot of the existing API is just so very primitive.
I can't get past the fact that there's no SQL. I know why there's no SQL, (Brewer's Conjecture etc) and I have some experience with it. I've been doing years of mostly-simple mashup stuff with quickbase, which is a similar PaaS-backing non-relational data store. It has it's place, but it's hard to imagine really cranking out something complicated with it. When I do code reviews for clients, the biggest improvements come from transforming procedural cursor logic back into set-oriented db-logic, and AppEngine wants you to go the opposite direction. Sigh.
Looking at the bigger picture, I'm trying to figure out what the drivers for PaaS adoption will be, especially in the case where the flavor of PaaS requires retiring your db muscles. Is giving the ability for developers (or non-developers) to clone and enhance code without sweating enough? Maybe there's a non-trivial demand for this (suggested by IBM's Project Zero, or stretching it a bit, MS-Sharepoint), but it seems like a long-term bet.
Aside: a cool App Engine project is Ben Adida's open source, cryptographically secure, online voting project Helios. You can conduct auditable elections and make sure they election-holders counted your vote the way you wanted. The auditing can be done by you personally, or a group that you trust. This all happens while hiding the actual candidate or choice you voted for, so you can't be coerced or sell it. Go Ben! The world needs Helios (but I'd be happy to start with just Florida).