Playing with Google Sites

Huzzah! Google Sites has finally been added to my Google Apps account, which means I can start playing. I’ve created a test wiki here, whicha anyone can view, but if you want to have a go at editing it, you’ll need an account. Just mail me to get one (er, if I know who you are).

Overall, it’s pretty great. Dead easy to use, lovely interface, plenty of customisation options. You can have multiple wikis, all with different designs. Pages within wikis can be standard text and image affairs, or you can use one of the presupplied templates:

  • Dashboard – let’s you create an iGoogle style page with loads of widgets and RSS feeds etc
  • Lists – let’s you create to-do lists, issue trackers etc. There are a few templates for these, or just create your own
  • Announcements – effectively a blog within the wiki. Very nicely done
  • File cabinet – upload and share files. Easy to use – just a shame that files can’t be directly loads into Google Docs, you have to download them

The widgets and stuff can be embedded in any standard page as well, though. Essentially, if it’s available on iGoogle, you can have it on Google Sites.

Google doesn’t mentioned the word ‘wiki’ anywhere on Google Sites though, maybe because it scares people off, but possibly also because there are some decidedly un-wiki things about Sites, not least the fact that I can’t seem to be able to compare versions of pages, nor roll-back to previous ones. Also, you can’t create a new page just by linking to it, which is a bit poo.

These minor niggles apart, Google Sites is really rather good. It completes the circle of applications that might be needed by a small organisation to communicate and collaborate within Google Apps. It’s very professional looking, and is much, much better than Sharepoint. Seriously.

At last! JotSpot = Google Sites

Finally Google has finished making the JotSpot wiki service their own, and have relaunched it as Google Sites. This is great news, as a wiki solution is something that has been sorely missing from Google’s line-up of services for some time.

This is TechCrunch‘s take on it:

Google Sites looks absolutely nothing like Jotspot, other than the fact that both are hosted wikis. All of the structured data templates launched by Jotspot in July 2006 have been stripped out. Users now have a choice between just five basic templates – a standard wiki, a dashboard where google gadgets can be embedded, a blog-like template for announcements, a file cabinet for file uploads, and a page for lists of items. Instead of creating structured templates, users will now simply embed spreadsheets, presentations and word documents from Google Docs, as well as Google Calendars, YouTube Videos and Picasa Albums.

Here’s a video from Google explaining a bit about it all:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_KnC2EIS5w%5D

At the moment though it looks like it is only available to people who use the Google Apps service, where you can have white label versions of various Google services with your own domain and branding. So you can’t start a Google Site wiki with your standard Google account, I don’t think.

I use Google Apps to handle my email and calendar and stuff, and will be implementing a Google Site as soon as it appears on my dashboard, and will make it available for people to have a play.

That’s my weekend sorted, then.