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Google adding Java support to App Engine

The search giant's App Engine is getting an 'early preview' of Java language support, a move that could significantly broaden Google's cloud computing service.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Google announced Tuesday it's adding support for Java to App Engine, its service for running software on Google's own computing infrastructure.

Today, Google offers only applications written in Python, a language that's popular among the search giant's engineers but not as widely used in the outside world. Java, though, is commonplace among organizations' server software, and Java support was the top-requested feature for Google App Engine.

"I'm really excited to give you an early preview of Java language support on App Engine," Graham Spencer, a Google engineering director, said at the company's Campfire One event for developers Tuesday evening, one year after the initial Google App Engine launch.

Google also announced other features for Google App Engine, including a "cron" feature that lets people schedule specific jobs such as sending weekly reports, and a Secure Data Connector that lets Google App Engine employ private data stored behind a company firewall, said Kevin Gibbs, App Engine's technical leader. Also new is a large-scale data import tool designed to ease the movement of gigabytes of data to App Engine, which uses Google's BigTable technology for storing information.

The Java support is in a testing mode so Google can iron out issues such as compatibility with existing Java software development tools and frameworks, Gibbs said.

"We feel the support we're launching is not yet complete," Gibbs said.

The software is running a full version 1.6 Java virtual machine (JVM), the Java software component that actually runs Java programs once they're converted into an intermediate form called bytecode, Gibbs said. Because the JVM is running bytecode, other programming languages that can be converted to bytecode, including Ruby and JavaScript, also can run on App Engine, though Gibbs cautioned there could be bumps on that particular road.