Python Bookshelf App

The Bookshelf app is a sample web app written in Python that shows how to use a variety of Google Cloud Platform products, including:

  • Google App Engine flexible environment
  • Google Cloud SQL
  • Google Cloud Datastore
  • Google Cloud Storage
  • Google Cloud Pub/Sub

This tutorial explores the Bookshelf app in detail, and discusses how each feature of the app is implemented using familiar technologies and services provided by Cloud Platform.

The Bookshelf app is based on the Flask web application framework. The sample app uses Flask because of its simplicity and ease of use, but the concepts and technologies explored are applicable regardless of which framework you use. You could implement this app in another web application framework of your choice, for example, Django.

Throughout the tutorial, the code follows best practices and common patterns for larger Flask applications. Notably, the app makes use of blueprints and application factories. If you are unfamiliar with these patterns, it would be a good idea to spend some time studying the Flask documentation.

Screen shot of the Bookshelf app showing controls and book covers

The Bookshelf sample app stores a collection of book titles. Anyone who has access to the app can add books to the list. The sample app offers these features:

  • Users can view the list of books, add books to the list, and remove books from the list.
  • Users can edit book details.
  • Users can upload cover images for books.
  • Users can log in with their Google accounts and view the books that they have added to the list.


  • Clone or download the sample app.
  • Build the app and run it on your local machine.
  • Deploy the app to App Engine.
  • Walk through the sample code.
  • Learn how the app stores structured data.
  • Learn how the app stores binary data in Google Cloud Storage.
  • Learn how the app authenticates users.
  • Learn how the app creates event logs that are visible in the Google Cloud Platform Console.
  • Learn how the app uses Google Cloud Pub/Sub to send tasks to a background worker.


This tutorial uses billable components of Cloud Platform including Google Compute Engine.

This tutorial has several steps, and each step is documented on its own page. The final page of the tutorial includes instructions for cleaning up resources, so you won't continue to be billed for Cloud Platform services. If you decide not to complete all the steps of the tutorial, see the cleanup instructions on the final page.

Before you begin

  1. Use the GCP Console to set up your Google Cloud Platform project:
    1. Create a new GCP project, and then create an App Engine application and enable billing in that project:
      Go to App Engine

      When prompted, select the region where you want your App Engine application located and then enable billing. After your GCP project is created, the Dashboard opens.

    2. Enable the Cloud Datastore, Cloud Pub/Sub, Cloud Storage JSON, Stackdriver Logging, and Google+ APIs.

      Enable the APIs

  2. Download, install, and initialize the Google Cloud SDK:
    Download the SDK
  3. Acquire local credentials for authenticating with Google Cloud Platform services:
    gcloud auth application-default login
  4. Verify that your default project is correct:
    gcloud config list
    If the project ID listed in the output is not the project that you intended to use for this tutorial, set the project by entering this command:
    gcloud config set project [YOUR_PROJECT_ID]
    where [YOUR_PROJECT_ID] is the ID of the project you created or chose to use for this tutorial.
  5. Clone the sample repository:

    git clone

    Alternatively, you can download the sample as a zip file and extract it.

This tutorial assumes that you are familiar with Python programming and that you have a Python development environment setup. If you do not have Python installed, see Setting Up A Python Development Environment. Even if you already have Python installed it's useful to review the setup instructions to ensure you have the latest Python tools.

Tutorial structure

The Bookshelf tutorial has several parts that demonstrate how the sample app uses various Cloud Platform services.

The structured data part of the tutorial demonstrates how the sample app stores book information in a SQL or NoSQL database. The app's web page displays a form where the user can enter the title, author, description, and publication date of a book. For each book entered, the app stores this information in a database, so it can be retrieved later for viewing or editing. For this step of the tutorial, you have your choice of three databases: Cloud SQL, Cloud Datastore, or MongoDB. After you complete this step with one of the databases, you can move on to the next step.

The Cloud Storage part of the tutorial demonstrates how the sample app stores binary data in Cloud Storage. On the app's web page, the user can specify a cover image for each book. The app stores the cover images in a Cloud Storage bucket.

The authorization part of the tutorial demonstrates how the app provides a sign-in flow for the user. When a user is signed in, any books entered are associated with the individual user. Signed-in users see only their own books.

The logging part of the tutorial demonstrates how the app writes logs that become visible in the Google Cloud Platform Console. Logs of this type can provide diagnostic information during app development.

The Pub/Sub part of the tutorial demonstrates how the app uses Cloud Pub/Sub to send tasks to a background worker. The worker gathers information from the Google Books API and updates the book information in the database.

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