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Application platforms in the cloud, also known as platform as a service (PaaS), let developers rapidly implement and deploy Web-based applications. PaaS includes several characteristics that are assumed to positively affect development productivity. Marketing for PaaS usually emphasizes this advantage, but few vendors provide guidance about their products' limitations. The authors' study asked Web application developers about the PaaS characteristics that they perceive as either beneficial or limiting for their own work. Based on these answers, the authors developed an evaluation framework to assess commercial PaaS solutions with regard to their development characteristics. They applied this framework to three commercial products and identified several design choices that either benefit or hinder developer productivity.