Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google Pages

Google has released a webpage creation and hosting service, known as Pages. From the FAQ:

We're testing a new product that makes creating your own web pages as easy as creating a document in a word processor. Google Page Creator is a free tool that lets you create web pages right in your browser and publish them to the web with one click. There's no software to download and no web designer to hire. The pages you create are hosted on Google servers and are available at for the world to see.

I have to say that this does not seem to be a very exciting product, or a new vision. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of services on the web that promise to do exactly the same thing, and have been for many years. I should say that I have not been able to get an account yet (the signups were only open for about 9 hours).

It is clear that Google envisages Pages as a static Blogger - 'push-button publishing' for anyone. The power of the Google brand alone means that if they market it right, the take up of Pages will be OK. However, for it to become truly popular they will have to add features, such as the ability to use it to host whole sites rather than just individual pages, as well as some extra 'google magic' ideas that no-one else has thought of yet.

The other oddity of Pages is that Google already has a simple web publishing system available, aside from Blogger, in the form of Google Base. Between the two products, it is hard to see where Pages fits in - if people want to put a recipe online, they can use Base. If they want to put photos of their holiday or pet, they can use Blogger. It is hard to see why someone would use Pages.

It will be interesting to have a look at the user interface. I can't comment on it at the moment as I don't have an account and I haven't seen any screenshots, but it is an area which Google is often strong in (Gmail etc) and I expect AJAX utilised as far as possible and there to be the traditional minimalist style.

PS: AJAX stands for Asynchrous Javascript And XML. Basically, it is a way of updating the data on the webpage without having to reload the whole webpage. When used well it can be extremely powerful, and is being increasingly used in services such as Webmail (eg Gmail and Windows Live Mail beta) with much success.

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