Google transforms JotSpot into Web-site-building tool

Google Sites' ease-of-use, tight integration with Google services strengthens company's position in Web-app race

Google Sites infoworld
Google today unveiled a powerful new weapon in its arsenal of lightweight Web-based productivity applications: a tool for easily and collaboratively creating and editing Web sites. Dubbed Google Sites, it's built around JotSpot, the wiki platform that Google acquired in October of 2006 -- and whose previously unclear fate has been cause for quite a bit of hand-wringing.

The search behemoth appears to have a broad range of applications in mind for the freely available tool, from building a private company intranet, accessible and customizable by users on a permissions basis, to developing a public-facing Web site for all the world to see.

Google has aimed to make the Google Sites easy enough for a beginner yet feature-rich enough for a power user. For example, building a Google Site requires no HTML, according to the company: It's "as easy as editing a document," the company says. There's also a "growing list" of page templates to get users started, including "Web page, announcements, file cabinet, dashboard, and list," according to Google.

At the same time, Google Sites lets page creators easily insert content such as videos, docs, spreadsheets, presentations, photo slide shows, and calendars -- thanks in part to its integration with other Google apps and offering.

Ah yes, Google's collection of shining Web gems: Google Docs, Google Calendar, YouTube, and Picasa. By integrating Google Sites with those aforementioned services, Google boosts the value of the entire array significantly. "This is a key last hole in the Google Apps suite," Matt Glotzbach, product management director for Google Enterprise, told CNET. "It is the nucleus for other pieces to fit into for online collaboration."

Moreover, the unveiling of Google Sites further fortifies Google's enviable position in the increasingly important Web services space -- a point that Microsoft clearly can't ignore. (I say that as someone who buys into the theory that Redmond's bid for Yahoo had a lot to do with having an eye on extending its own Web-app reach.)

More information is available at the Google Sites home page.