Thursday, September 3, 2009

Google App Engine now supports chat

Today Google released the 1.2.5 release of the Google App Engine Python and Java SDKs. You can read the blog post and release notes for details, but the most intriguing addition is XMPP support.

XMPP is the open protocol used for chat in clients such as Google Talk and Jabber (more clients here). Having a Google App Engine application able to easily participate in chat - and Google Wave when it arrives - opens up a wide range of possibilities for web applications.

To send a message using XMPP in Google App Engine you use the API. Each Google App Engine application (and version of each application) has its own XMPP address, and when an incoming XMPP message is detected, a POST request is created to a special administrator-only URL that your application assign a handler for. Overall, the interface is simple.

Some bells and whistles are not present. You can determine whether a recipient is online or not, but you can not detect status (eg. 'available', 'away' etc). Hopefully future releases will expand on the functionality available in this release.

For more information, read the documentation.

For the meantime though the potential transformative nature of this capability will take a while to assess. Good work, Google!

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