37 Comments

Summary:

We know that wikis can be incredibly useful. But for some reason we’re still trying to figure out, collaborating groups haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. It’s no surprise that Google wanted to be a player in this space with their acquisition of Jotspot in 2006. We’ve been patiently waiting to see how Google would finally make wikis relevant and approachable to the every day user. The guessing is over with today’s long-awaited launch of Google Sites. The application is the first Google service deployed exclusively for Google Apps, free in Team, Standard, Education and Premier editions.

googlesites-logo.pngWe know that wikis can be incredibly useful. But for some reason we’re still trying to figure out, collaborating groups haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. It’s no surprise that Google wanted to be a player in this space with their acquisition of Jotspot in 2006. We’ve been patiently waiting to see how Google would finally make wikis relevant and approachable to the every day user.

The guessing is over with today’s long-awaited launch of Google Sites.

The application is the first Google service deployed exclusively for Google Apps, free in Team, Standard, Education and Premier editions. If your organization is not already using Google Apps, you’ll need to at least sign up for Google Team edition to use Sites.

Anyone who has ever created or edited a Google Doc will feel right at home in Google Sites.

To get started, Google provides some basic templates and themes, with very easy page creation and linking.

sites-create.png

Users do not need to know any markup language to edit pages, one of the biggest drawbacks of most wiki applications. Google Sites borrows the familiar WYSIWYG toolbar from Google Docs.

googlesites.png

Using the “Insert” menu, you can embed elements from other Google properties such as calendar, Picasa albums, documents, YouTube videos and more.

Similar to Google Docs, you can opt to share your Google Sites within your company, with the world or not at all. The entire application environment is clean and straightforward, and not at all intimidating to those who have never edited a site before.

Google Sites is a simple way for groups to build their intranet or publish uncomplicated pages. The appeal of Google Sites is in how easy it is for groups who are already using Google Apps to adopt it into their workflow without learning any HTML or special wiki language. The barrier of users having to store yet another login and learn their way around yet another site is essentially eliminated. While some will inevitably complain that the service doesn’t have this or that feature, Google Site’s tight integration with Google’s other products is an extremely smart way to get existing users on board quickly.

Storage size varies across different editions of Google Apps. Domains of Google Apps Standard and Team editions receive 10GB of Google Sites storage. Premier Edition and Education Edition domains receive a minimum of 10GB, plus an additional 500MB for each user account in the domain.

It appears that new Google Apps domains can start using Google Sites right away, while existing customers will automatically see the new service in their accounts in a few weeks. While Google’s press pages said Sites would be available to existing domains in a few weeks, in fact it’s available now. Current Google App administrators can find Google Sites simply by clicking the “Add More Services” link on their administrator dashboard.

What do you think of Google Sites? Was it worth the wait?

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  3. How is this better than google page creator?

  4. As an investor and executive at PBwiki, I’m horrendously biased, but I happen to think that this is pretty cool news, both for on-demand wikis and collaboration in general, and PBwiki in particular.

    While the JotSpot acquisition got a lot of folks excited about the wiki space, things died down as the service went into silent running within Google. No longer. Google’s launch of Google Sites puts wikis right at the heart of what’s shaping up to be one of the big battles of 2008: Collaboration.

    Under the Web 2.0 radar, Microsoft has been trying to lock up the collaboration market with SharePoint, a software product that is broadly installed but little loved.

    Now Google Sites will bring the might of Google to bear on the SaaS side of the on-premise/on-demand debate.

    It’s good to have Google on your side in a fight.

    It’s also good to have Google validating your space–just look at how well folks like Omniture and WordPress has down. Google Analytics and Blogger have opened up the market for more advanced and polished products.

    Don’t forget, PBwiki is the world’s largest provider of on-demand wikis to businesses and educators (almost 450,000 wikis hosted). PBwiki is in use at over 1/3 of the Fortune 500, and its paying customers include Facebook, Symantec, DePaul University, and the FDA (among thousands of others).

  5. Google Sites is completely underwhelming. Webware calls it the relaunch of Jot. The features offered with Sites makes me wonder why they needed to acquire Jot in the first place.

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  7. By the way, let me know when you want a beta invite for PBwiki 2.0, which really takes on-demand wikis to the next level in terms of functionality and polish.

  8. Your survey left out one important option. I won’t be using Google Sites because I’m not signed up for Google teams and likely won’t be.

    I’m currently a heavy user of Google apps, but as an individual. I’ve been waiting for this rollout for a year, it finally comes and I can’t use it. Crap.

    I hope this is just a partial rollout and that Google plans to offer a version that is open for non-Team users.

  9. @Chris, the point of Google Sites isn’t to blow people away with the features. It’s about being incredibly easy to adopt for what it is.

    @Mike, like I said, this is the first application that Google is rolling out for Google Apps for Domains first. Exclusively, in fact. It will be interesting to see whether or not this turns out to be a smart strategy.

  10. Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson Thursday, February 28, 2008

    Just as Chris, I am biased too. Huddle.net is in the same space and I agree – any announcement that highlights the issue of social collaboration is good news. Although it’s quite sad that Google took all good stuff away from JotSpot. I am sure it’s still useful but only for Google Apps power users.

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