11 April 2009

Another Sweet Google Tool

Three events recently converged to respark my interest in a little mini-project I tried to do some time ago:

(1) At yesterday's Python subgroup meeting of The Hacker Within, our resident Pythonista got me all excited about developing easy web applications in that language. I write a lot of Python for pre- and post-processing of nuclear fuel cycle systems data, but I've never done any web-related Python work except for fixing a bug or two in some Trac instances. Nico got me pumped about the prospect.

(2) I started helping the Diocese of Milwaukee with their new Website, for which we're using Google Sites in an attempt to improve the ease of collaboration and maintenance. I think Google Sites is pretty terrific, but it does have some limitations, and I'm interested in identifying some Google-compatible solutions. The Python-based Google App Engine seems like a promising direction.

(3) My friend Ryan re-activated pangramaday, which I've mentioned here before and is now available via Twitter (@pangramaday).

As it did during my short-lived interest in learning to develop Java Applets, the pangramist's quandary motivated a little mini-project a few steps more complex than Hello, World! and perfect for learning a new set of interfaces. And this time I can actually publish the result (such as it is), because the Google App Engine framework is just so frickin' easy to use.

So if for pangram-, crossword- or Wheel-of-Fortune-related purposes you ever need a list of words that all contain some given collection of letters, look no further than pangramhelper. It's currently both ugly and slow, but if my interest in learning these APIs doesn't wane too much, that may change.

It's actually kind of fun to enter random (or not so random--can you tell I'm getting ready for the Easter Vigil?) letters and see what you get:

You wrote:

Christos anesti

We found:


It only took a few hours and about a hundred lines of Python (and most of those are just longhand HTML inside of function calls). Seriously, check out the App Engine.

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