AppJet: Another Cloud Application Framework

A little while ago I talked about Google App Engine being a sign of new good things to come. I was convinced that this was too good of an idea to just be ignored. Other people were bound to get into the free cloud application framework business and I was right.

Go and check out AppJet.com. It is another free cloud application framework that allows you to write and host your application on their server for free. Many people were confused and/or disappointed to learn Google’s service only allowed Python. Personally I adore that language so I have no clue what was their problem. But the truth is that the very first feature request on their App Engine code page was to add Java Support. Number 13 was to add PHP support. Sigh… Give people great app with an elegant, succinct language and they immediately want to replace it to replace it with the uglies. Let’s face it, Java is overly verbose and PHP can’t compete with Python on prettiness or consistent, straightforward syntax. Both are good languages but, eh… I can see why they went with the big Python.

AppJet went a different route and picked a language that most people know and love (or hate). And no, it’s not Java. You see, AppJet folks are a forward thinking lot, and they picked a language which has a bright future ahead of it: Javascript.

You get access to basic Javascript with their custom set of server side libraries including a custom permanet storage system. I find their storage solution quite ingenious actually. It is simply a javascript object and you assign properties to it as to any other object – it just sticks around.

There are two awesome features that set this service apart from Google App Engine though and I can’t decide which one of them is more awesome. First is their incredible web-based IDE. You just have to see it, and if you are to lazy to explore their page, here is a screen shot:

AppJet IDE

You can actually edit your code right in your browser. No ftp/sftp, no custom uploader apps (like in Google App Engine). How awesome is that? Everything you need is on a single page. On the left you have your code window with nice accurate code highlighting. On the left you have a preview pane so that you can see your changes in real time. I’m really impressed with this feature – it is possibly one of the best apps of this kind that I have seen recently.

Second great feature is the fact that AppJet does not lock you into their cloud the way Google does. If you are not happy with their hosting, or for some reason can’t use it you can download their server software as a single jar and host it on your server. All you need is a recent JVM.

To see what this technology is capable off, check out EtherPad – a collaborative real time text editor which runs on the AppJet stack. Quite an impressive service if you ask me, showing that AppJet is capable of much more than just little toy projects.

I can totally see myself using AppJet for some small throw-away apps in the future over Google App engine – if nothing else, just because of the online IDE and the fact it does not lock me into their hosting so I could easily migrate my app to a self hosted environment if I wanted to.

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8 Responses to AppJet: Another Cloud Application Framework

  1. naum UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS Terminalist says:

    great, another distraction for me…

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  2. Mark AUSTRALIA Safari Mac OS says:

    Does this have a Scaleable Data Model or Database?

    If not, well its really missing a fair chunk of functionality if you want to compare it to Google App Engine.

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  3. Greg UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    You may also like my app, Utility Mill it lets you make hosted web utilities in Python. It’s designed for much simpler apps than app jet but often that’s all you need.

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  4. misuba UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    The AppJet storage library is scalable enough, but is a bit awkward to work with. Something better is in the works for the new version, I understand.

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  5. naum UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS Terminalist says:

    limits are 1 source file and 50 MB of data.

    storage is through appjet API and think object store (and JS is perfectly capable of intricate object graphs, though i am not certain if recursive
    structures are permitted).

    with the 1 source file, you still are able to branch for various URL path possibilities (as well as GET/POST code distinction)

    not much of a java junkie so i do not know how their DL .jar works on cheap hosting or if that is only a option for your own server. not even sure if my mac which runs apache and RoR and PHP and used to test even has the proper java

    obviously with everything server side, easy to spoof http transactions (would be interesting to see hashing + server side persistence implemented)

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @naum: I think the jar is a self executable server. I think it works like Webrick in Rails. You run it, passing your application code as an argument and it does it’s thing.

    And yeah, I think you actually are tied to it – can’t put your app on like Apache + MySQL. So I wouldn’t use it in a production environment, but it is a nice thing to have. It means that if AppJet closes shop you can still take your pet app and run it from somewhere.

    Oh, if you look at the code – it is actually written in Javascript (using Rhino). Javascript from the ground up, in and out. Awesome!

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