I don't know how many of you have tried Google Sites, which is a Wiki like application available for Google Apps users. Although the application itself lacks a lot of features (more on that a bit later), the framework, the development and the way things are going is awesome. You can use Google Sites for intraweb documents, customer management, blogging, file storage, sharing photos, anything you want really, let's take a look at what this is all about.
The main difference between Google Sites and a Wiki is that Sites is tailored very well to a domain. This means that while Wikis tend to be community pages only, with sites you can restrict who is able to do what right down to picking out your Google Apps users. This gives great control over who can do what with the site. For example I use Google Sites for my blog management service Blogtastique, to give customers a cool way to follow what's going on with their order. I can creqate file repositories, announcement boards, order detail pages. I can also only share the page with the specific customer, so noone else can take a peak into his or her order. The users can also upload files and share their comments, which make for a very rich user experience.
Pages are very easily editable using the type of rich text editor we all know from our Gmail interfaces. Just click edit, start typing, save, and you have your page. You can change the look of your site quite easily with the built in templates, or you can customize one for yourself. Customization is a bit limited, but flexible enough for most purposes. It doesn't work by modifying css, which means you can't do anything, but there are enough variables you can modify to dramatically change everything.
There are also some widgets you can place on pages like a timer, a changes tracking module, but the selection here is still a bit limited. In fact, all the shortcommings of Sites is because it is not yet tailored to power users. Development is in progress and they are gradually implementing things, but a lot of work needs to be done to make it as flexible as it could be. To mention just some of the shortcommings, there is no site duplication. So if I spend 10 minutes setting up a page for a client, I need to spend another ten for the next, I can't just copy and change the name, while this is essentially what needs to be done. The user roles are not well implemented. Separating people who can and can't view the page is easy and well done, but there is no option for a commenter only. This means that a person can either just view the page and not do anything, or he/she can modify the page and comment. It would be nice to have a role where someone can view but not modify, and be able to comment.
Overall, I suggest trying out this application because it is easy to use and can be used for a multitude of things. It still has some problems, but knowing Google, they will be addressed sooner or later. I don't know how high up this is on the company's agenda, so we may still have to wait a bit, but I like how things are shaping up!
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.