To help developers gain better insight into how to create a Google App Engine application, Google has open-sourced Thoughtsite -- a discussion forum build on Google App Engine.
Google Apps Engine is Google scalable solution for creating web application. It competes with Amazon EC2, and Microsoft Windows Azure among others in providing developers to with a solution which scales with demand.
Both Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Windows Azure run applications on virtual machines, letting developers launch additional instances of their server appliance as demand increases, and charge hourly based on the number of instances launched. Google App Engine on the other hand scales the application automatically and charges based on how many CPU resources your application uses.
Google App Engine provides some advanced features, and while there are many open source applications available for Google App Engine, Google believes there is a shortage for fully functional applications which showcase all the features of Google App Engine. Thoughtsite is supposed to a fully open source application which covers this need.
While Thoughtsite has been created with the aim to educate developers how to use Google App Engine by giving them an open source “comprehensive” application to play with, the application can be used to host a discussion forum on your own domain.
According to Google some of the salient features of Thoughtsite are:
- a flexible system that could be used for any kind of discussion forum.
- voting, tagging, comments and a reputation point system for users.
- full text search on App Engine with Apache Lucene.
- search for threads by tags or by keywords. Threads can also be linked to from user profiles.
- users gain reputation points based on community votes for their contributions.
- full-fledged user profiles with info, points, contributions, user's personal tag cloud, etc.
- basic duplication detection filters to detect similar threads so posters can avoid creating a new thread if one already exists.
- basic spam and gaming filters (self-voting, cross-voting, etc.).
- comprehensive admin section that allows moderation of individual posts and users. Users can flag objectionable content or trolls.
Unlike Amazon and Windows Azure, Google App Engine users also get certain free quotas, so it is unlikely you will incur any charges while you are testing your application. In fact if you have a very limited audience, you might be able get by on Google App Engine without paying at all.