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Using the local development server

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The Google Cloud CLI for Java includes a local development server for testing your application on your computer. The local development server emulates the App Engine Java runtime environment and all of its services, including Datastore.

Running the Development Web Server

For information about setting your system properties and environment variables for your app, see How Requests are Handled.

You can also run the development web server from a command prompt. The command to run is in the SDK's google-cloud-sdk/bin/ directory.

Windows command syntax:

google-cloud-sdk\bin\java_dev_appserver.cmd [options] [WAR_DIRECTORY_LOCATION]

Linux or macOS command syntax:

google-cloud-sdk/bin/ [options] [WAR_DIRECTORY_LOCATION]

The command takes the location of your application's WAR directory as an argument.

Stopping the development server

To stop the web server, press Ctrl-C.

Detecting the application runtime environment

To determine whether your code is running in production or in the local development server, you can check the value of the SystemProperty.environment.value() method. For example:

if (SystemProperty.environment.value() == SystemProperty.Environment.Value.Production) {
   // Production
 } else {
  // Local development server
  // which is: SystemProperty.Environment.Value.Development

Using the local Datastore emulator

The development web server simulates Datastore using a local file-backed Datastore on your computer. The Datastore is named local_db.bin, and it is created in your application's WAR directory, in the WEB-INF /appengine-generated/ directory. It is not uploaded with your application.

This Datastore persists between invocations of the web server, so data you store will still be available the next time you run the web server. To clear the contents of the Datastore, shut down the server, then delete this file.

As described in Datastore Index Configuration, the development server can generate configuration for Datastore indexes needed by your application, determined from the queries it performs while you are testing it. This generates a file named datastore-indexes-auto.xml in the directory WEB-INF/appengine-generated/ in the WAR. To disable automatic index configuration, create or edit the datastore-indexes.xml file in the WEB-INF/ directory, using the attribute autoGenerate="false" for the <datastore-indexes> element.

Browsing Datastore in the development server

To browse your local Datastore using the development web server:

  1. Start the development server as described previously.
  2. Go to the Development Console.
  3. Click Datastore Viewer in the left navigation pane to view your local Datastore contents.

The Cloud Datastore consistency model

By default, the local Datastore is configured so that the percentage of Datastore writes that are not immediately visible in global queries set to 10%.

To adjust this level of consistency, set the datastore.default_high_rep_job_policy_unapplied_job_pct system property with a value corresponding to the amount of eventual consistency you want your application to see.


If you are setting this property using the command prompt, you need to use --jvm_flag=... to set the property:

google_cloud_sdk/bin/  --jvm_flag=-Ddatastore.default_high_rep_job_policy_unapplied_job_pct=20

The valid range for datastore.default_high_rep_job_policy_unapplied_job_pct is between 0 and 100. If you use numbers outside of this range, you will receive an error.

Specifying the Automatic ID Allocation Policy

You can configure how the local Datastore assigns automatic entity IDs (note that this information applies to the Java 11 runtime as well as the Java 8 runtime)

The following automatic ID allocation policies are supported in the development server:

IDs are assigned from the sequence of consecutive integers.
IDs are assigned from a non-repeating sequence of approximately uniformly distributed integers.

The default policy in the local Datastore is scattered.

To specify the automatic ID policy, set the datastore.auto_id_allocation_policy system property to either sequential or scattered.


To set this system property through a flag passed to the dev_appserver macro:

java_dev_appserver --jvm_flag=-Ddatastore.auto_id_allocation_policy=scattered

Simulating User Accounts

The development web server simulates Google Accounts with its own sign-in and sign-out pages. While running under the development web server, the methods that generate sign-in and sign-out URLs return URLs for /_ah/login and /_ah/logout on the local server.

The development sign-in page includes a form where you can enter an email address. Your session uses whatever email address you enter as the active user.

To have the application believe that the logged-in user is an administrator, check the "Sign in as Administrator" checkbox on the form.

Using URL Fetch

When your application uses the URL Fetch API to make an HTTP request, the development web server makes the request directly from your computer. The behavior may differ from when your application runs on App Engine if you use a proxy server for accessing websites.

The Development Console

The development web server includes a console web application. With the console you can browse the local Datastore.

To access the console, visit the URL /_ah/admin on your server: http://localhost:8080/_ah/admin

Command-Line Arguments

For the local development server command options, see here.