Google App Engine: What developers want at Google I/O

Most of the noise coming out of Google I/O (s goog) this week will be around the company’s long-percolating infrastructure as a service plan. But many developers who have banked on Google App Engine, the company’s platform as a service, will be looking for other things.
For many, Google App Engine has seemed a sideline for the big search company, a perception some Google execs have labored to correct. Google claimed 150,000 active GAE developers going into the show, a number it will doubtless update.
Having talked with a couple of the GAE faithful, here’s a developer wish list for GAE.

  1. Better search. Here’s irony for you: it’s not easy to put full text search into GAE applications and one European developer — who requested anonymity — said he hopes to get this long-overdue capability, which Google acknowledges is one of GAE’s most requested features, soon. Another GAE user agreed:  “We would definitely love Google to release full text search not [just] for documents but also integrated into the data store ,” said Alberto Gualis, a software developer for Frogtek. Google showed off that capability in a video last year.
  2. Cross application namespace. It would be great to have a secure and simple way to connect multiple independent applications on the same data store, said Gil Zimmermann, CEO of CloudLock, a company that runs and works with GAE.
  3.  SSL support for custom domains. GAE right now does not allow this, said Greg Bayer, backend engineering lead for Pulse, the popular news reader for mobile devices. “We use as our custom domain but if you want HTTPS for sending passwords etc. you have to use their domain. It works but it’s not a great, seamless user experience,” he said.
  4. Faster bulk import and export of  data. Getting big amounts of data into and out of GAE data stores can be time intensive especially compared to Amazon(s amzn), developers said. “Bulk import and export are there in GAE but they are slow. If you want to download a few gigs of data it can take forever,” Bayer said.
  5. Tuneable memcache eviction policies. Right now, if your app is running out of capacity, GAE will dump the oldest data — which is what memcache does. It would be better, however, if the app owner could prioritize the data to be dumped first. Some of that older data may be good to have around as opposed some newer, but less critical data.
  6. Enterprise-class sandbox. Cloudlock’s Zimmermann, perhaps because he deals with business customers, would love to see a subscription option to test out applications with very large data sets. It could be a premium offering with perhaps lower price structures for the biggest data sets or some sort of size cap.
  7. Faster data store snapshotting. Again, this function is in GAE, but it’s slow particularly for large data sets.
  8. Log analytics tools. Business developers would like to see better log retention and analytics tools and perhaps even native integration into Splunk (s splnk) or similar third-party tools.
  9. Cloud SQL general availability. Several developers said they await the general release (is there such a thing anymore) of Google Cloud SQL.

No conference wish list is complete without a discussion of the show swag factor. As in, what freebies will attendees get? The aforementioned nameless European developer wants to know if it’ll be a new Android phone, tablet, or Chromebook perhaps? A Google TV? Google Goggles? Inquiring minds want to know.
Meanwhile, check out Kevin Tofel’s look at what to expect from Android at Google I/O and Janko Roettgers’ thoughts on what could be in store for Google TV.