Author: Charles Severance
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2009
Aimed at: Anyone involved in web design
Pros: Some clear explanations
Cons: Fails to go far enough on its core topic
Reviewed by: Mike James
The Google App engine is an exciting development and it is not difficult to use. It basically gives you a way of supplying a Python class that will be instantiated for you and run in response to an HTTP request, get or post. Basically it’s a way of doing "cloud computing" by using Google's machines, for free up to a point, to do your work remotely. It has a few additional Python classes that form a framework that enable you to access a database and similar features.
However for a book to get you started this one just doesn’t to the idea justice. The author seems to want to write about just about any topic other than the Google App engine. He takes about 100 pages, nearly half the book to get to the subject, and even then there are many pages spent on ideas that most web programmers would know about. If you don't know about HTML, CSS, Python, forms handling, cookies etc. then you really need to read about them in another book.
While the explanations of all of these topics are clear and reasonably well done this is not what you expect to find in a book on something more specific, i.e. using the Google App engine. When the topic is finally reached then it is explained at a very basic level which is easy enough to follow but - then the book runs out.
As you have probably gathered the main complaint is that this book simply isn't on topic for most of its few pages and when it is it doesn't tell you anything you couldn't find out in a few minutes looking at the documentation. It's just not enough.