Google Blogoscoped

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google Page Creator

A new day, a new Google product. Today, Google releases the Page Creator, a tool for easy website creation. You can log-in to it using your Google account, and your site URL will then be

The editor works very nice. It’s a FrontPage running in your browser, if you will. In true WSYSIWYG style, you enter the text right in the place you want to have it. You can include headlines, font-style changes, links, or images (which you either reference on another server, or upload to Google’s servers). Changes happen right on the page with a lot of highly impressive DHTML/ Ajax magic.

Now purists may argue that there’s no WYSIWYG on the web, a media-neutral and cross-browser medium; indeed, the resulting page HTML – though claiming to be XHTML Strict – uses font tags, HTML 4 breaks and such, failing validation with many errors. However, the HTML is not completely deprecated. Headlines, for example, are “semantically correct.” While not good, the resulting HTML is better than what most WYSIWYG editors produce.

Periodically while doing changes, your page will be auto-saved. In the top right of your editing area you will always see either an orange “Unsaved” or a green “Saved” label along with a time-stamp. Auto-saving is good, too, in particular as the Google Page Creator contains some minor and major bugs at this time. A minor bug I experienced was that I couldn’t resize the image on the page; Google seemingly knew this and presented me with a “sorry” dialog. A major bug was that all of a sudden, and without reason, I received a “Editing Session Terminated” message, with the explanation that another user has ended my editing session (gee, I’m alone here, which other user?). Another major bug was that the live page returned a “file not found” at some times while I was editing in another browser window.

Once you finished a page, you can preview it, and then click on “Publish” to take it live. Here’s my result from the first few minutes. Not too bad! I now want to create another page using a different layout. To do so, I’m clicking “Create a new page” on the page manager main screen. This manager tells me the number of pages I have created, the storage left – you get 100 MB at this time – and it allows me to manage my uploaded stuff (which is indeed called “Uploaded stuff”).

To change the layout of your pages, you click on “Change Layout” to the top right side. You can currently choose from 4 different main templates, changing the way your page elements (title, sidebar and so on) are positioned on the page. A much broader range of designs can then be accessed by clicking “Change Look” (there are 41 designs all in all). I went for a “paper” design for my second test page.


Now who’s this editor for? It’s not for the professional web designer or site creator, I’d say, but rather for the quick’n’dirty, Geocities type of websites. It’s also not for bloggers, of course, as it creates a more traditional homepage. It’s not for the MySpace crowd (who likes to tinker with templates a lot), as it lacks social features. I can’t even see it for smaller companies wanting to have their own websites, as all sites at this time get the “” extension... and who’d want that? (It would be an improvement if Google would let people export to their own domains, or offer a broader range of domains to choose from.)

An interesting bit on the side is that Google states, “The pages you create can be crawled by Google within a few hours of publication.” Is that the normal time, or does it mean Google indexes faster? If so, maybe there’s a new tool for SEOs. However, Google also says, “Web pages created using Google Page Creator will never receive any preferential treatment of any kind in Google search results.”

So, next to being a mere storage solution – Reto Meier says, “Finally! An answer for when my friends with blogs ask ’But where can I put this file to link to it?’” – Google in their page creator help lists the following usage examples; you can create “an online photo tour of your vacation to Bali,” “an overview of the South American precipitation cycle for your science class,” or “a shrine to your pet ferret” (they might as well have said “cat photos”).

[Thanks Ken Wong, Jtdgrz, and Reto.]

Also see more Page Creator news.


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