Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

One week of Google App Engine

appengine_lowres.jpgI got tired of cutting and pasting links into blog entries on my Spare Cycles site every time the Tour de France rolls around, so I thought I'd spend those early morning, live-race-watching sessions coding up a Google App Engine site to do most of the work for me. The app is very simple:

  • it checks a bunch of RSS feeds
  • it allows me to mark each entry it finds as approved or rejected

There's some additional stuff in there to try and classify a link by stage, category and type. Nothing rocket science.

I've been pleased with the low startup cost in getting something up and running. I had a crude cut running almost immediately and have been able to post incremental improvements frequently -- I think I'm already up to 200 revisions. Most of those revisions are due to an overabundance of confidence in my ability to code Python error free while watching TV at 5 in the morning. You are supposed to try out your code on a development server that runs on your local computer, but sometimes I was lazy.

In some ways the startup cost was too low -- I probably should have watched some of the tutorial videos first before designing my data model. You can play around with the data model after you've deployed it, though certain properties are harder to change than others (e.g. keys and parents). I was also more timid to do so because my site has had users from the get-go.

My only real complaints are:

  1. You can't schedule tasks on the server. You're only way of updating data is to load a URL. My simple hack for this is to use the 'Reload Every' extension in Firefox.
  2. It's really easy to exceed the quotas on the system. Too many queries or too many urlfetches on a particular page will easily trigger a temporary ban.
  3. The djangoforms API could use more than a little bit of work. Datetimes are not rendered properly and the documentation is really hard to navigate.
  4. I wish there were an automated tool for getting data in/out of the system. I'm constantly worried that I'm going to bork my data somehow, so I want to be able to back it up without having to keep a custom backup tool up-to-date.

My next attempt will probably be something photo related, so I'll soon have some more experience with the Image API as well.

Post a comment


related entries.

what is this?

This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on July 12, 2008 3:07 PM.

The previous post was Digging the iPhone Apps.

The next post is Google App Engine: Some early tips.

Current entries can be found on the main page.