Don't worry, I'm working on a post about my summer at Northwestern University. It's just a lot of writing, thinking, and recalling, so it'll take some time. Meanwhile, this post has a very important message I wanted to get out.
Google Blogoscoped published "Google Slowly Closing Page Creator" a few days ago, which got me thinking. How much do I use Google Page Creator? For its intended purpose (creating pages), not much. But I use it quite a bit for hosting miscellaneous images and bits of XML (like gadgets and FeedFlare units) that I use all over the Web. So what will happen if Google migrates me to Google Sites?
The bad possibility — one that I sincerely hope they avoid — is that I will be moved from http://voyagerfan5761.googlepages.com/ to http://sites.google.com/site/voyagerfan5761/. Links all over the place will break. Images will be missing. My blog feed will be missing FeedFlares. Countless emails will no longer look right. Sure I can fix much of the damage, but that assumes Google will migrate my files, too.
My hope is that, using the custom domain feature of Google Sites, migrated Google Page Creator users will simply have their back-end replaced, while the public-facing part of the site (pages and files) appear to remain the same. No broken links, no discontinuity, no user aggravation.
I guess my point in writing this (there are other discussions, too; here's one from FriendFeed and one from Labnol) is to try and get Google's attention. Please, Google, please let us know more details about your migration plans. If migration is going to break links and change URLs, please tell us now so we can begin preparations!
Update (12:51): I nearly forgot about files! Of course accessing existing files is covered under not breaking links, but I totally forgot to mention that there's a possibility of them being deleted in the move or (worse, I think) migrated but hidden in the interface, making deletions, changes, and new uploads impossible. (Thanks, Tony!)
Update (17:46): Ionut at Google Operating System posted on this a few hours ago, and I see he found a Google Groups thread that explains in a bit more detail what will be happening. Google Page Creator sites will be redirected to their Google Sites counterparts. However, it still doesn't mention how files will be handled…
After months of waiting, Google has re-launched the JotSpot wiki service — acquired sixteen months ago — as Google Sites. Annoyingly, it's only available for Google Apps accounts, which means I don't have access to it. I could create an Apps account, yes, but I don't have a domain name with which to sign up. I plan to get a domain for this site sometime in the near future (read: in the next year or so), so my own testing will have to wait until then.
There's a lot of talk about how Google doesn't mention the word "wiki" anywhere in the materials promoting Google Sites. JotSpot also did the it's-not-a-wiki thing, meaning nobody can really say what the product is, exactly. Some bloggers just call it a wiki despite Google's (intentional?) omissions, and I agree with that. JotSpot always was a wiki service, from what I heard and read about it, and the rebranding isn't going to change that.
Meanwhile, I can still bask in the knowledge that JotSpot is alive and kicking at Google. Now how did the press (and several bloggers) find out about this last night? I only got the email 100 minutes ago. Hmm… Darn press releases.
For the review that I can't write due to lack of access, check out this very good one by Dennis Howlett at ZDNet (also linked above as "about").
There are several sources of information regarding statements made by Scott Johnston at a recent Google Apps presentation in Ann Arbor, and all the statements are very interesting. Among other things, Google announced (or hinted strongly at) the launch of the JotSpot wiki service, now branded Google Sites, next year; Google Gears access to Gmail and Google Calendar; offline editing of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; integration between GrandCentral and Google Apps ("they are working on it and it is a 'huge priority' for them" — ZDNet); and, in the far future, videoconferencing within Google Apps.
Now, I don't know how many of these products will make it into mainstream Google Accounts (I would really like to have GrandCentral connected to my Google Account, personally), but they are very exciting, especially the Gears access for Calendar and Gmail. Who knows how many days of calendar will be downloaded, or how many emails (with or without attachments…), but the features are quite welcome.
Google Page Creator has been pretty anemic for its entire life, and if pages.google.com turns into sites.google.com, I won't complain. Also, offline document editing will allow me to finally ditch Word! (Except for those few niggling instances of complex formatting, of course.) Combine all these Gears integrations, and suddenly the Web browser starts looking like an office suite. The times ahead will be very, very exciting, I think, for Google's users. Hopefully all the improvements start with regular users and work through to Apps, like the new Gmail code…