Google App Engine let’s you build web apps that run on Google’s infrastructure. What’s the best way to get familiar with a new framework like this? Build something — preferably something simple and useful, and that’s what I set out to do.
I’ve played around in the URL-shortening space pioneered by TinyURL and understand the problem domain well. I’ve built a couple of these in PHP and Ruby (merb) and registered the ur.ly domain in September 2007 but never released anything. When GAE launched, memories of Steve Rubel’s Could a Billion TinyURL’s Go 404? post (hat tip to Dave Winer) echoed in my brain. Why not build a URL-shortener on GAE and let Google worry about scalability?
So I built ur.ly, a simple, super-scalable (thanks GAE), fast (yeah memcached) URL-shortening application. There’s an API to make it easy to use and it’s open source so you can play with the code or run your own.