Using Tailbone to talk to App Engine with JavaScript

March 18, 2013

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By Doug Fritz, Creative Lab

Today we’re sharing a small open source project called Tailbone that lets developers read and write to the Google App Engine Datastore using JavaScript. We’re hoping that it makes App Engine a bit more accessible to developers who aren’t familiar with Python, Java or Go, or prefer not to use them.

I share an office with three creative programmers who work almost entirely in HTML5 and JavaScript. An important part of our work is writing server-side code for new projects that read or write data to to the App Engine Datastore or use Google accounts to store authenticated user-specific information. To make that process easier for my JavaScript-fluent colleagues, I created Tailbone to act as a RESTful API for an app’s Datastore.

tailbone tutorial screenshot

To get started, you still have to install App Engine’s SDK and Python, but after that you’re all set. We’ve written a detailed tutorial that guides you through the installation and an example app for creating an authenticated profile page with an editable name and photo.

It’s my hope that Tailbone makes App Engine a little bit less intimidating for people who don’t have much experience with server-side coding. I know there are a few in my office. If there are any others out there, this is for you.

Doug Fritz is a programmer with the Creative Lab’s Data Arts Team. He thinks large amounts of data taste slightly purple and strongly wishes the government used bugzilla.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor