March 1, 2006

A first look at Google Page Creator

Author: Tina Gasperson

Google is offering free Web pages with an easy-to-use home page creator that you don't have to download, and you can use the utility even from a Linux desktop if you use Firefox. The company released Google Page Creator last week as a Google Labs project. That means you won't find it on the main directory of services because it's in an early stage of beta testing. If you're willing to be a Google guinea pig, you'll find the service functional, if limited in scope, and easy enough for a beginner to use.

You need a Google account to make a page. If you don't already have one, you're out of luck, because Google is not adding new accounts right now, due to heavy demand. When you log in at googlepages.com, you're presented with 100MB of space and an a interactive page that holds a template in the center and buttons on the top and left side for editing.

Google Page Creator in action - click to enlarge

You can choose from about a dozen simple designs and three different layouts for your page. The buttons on the left side of the screen allow you to select the font size and type, colors, and justification.

The easy, quick updating, saving, and publishing functions worked well in Firefox on Ubuntu Breezy, but not with Konqueror or Opera on Linux. Adding links was easy, but I couldn't save a change to a page without testing the link first, which was a bit annoying.

Adding images should have been easy, but was a bit buggy. When I clicked the "images" button, a dialogue appeared and I could select a radio button to either browse my hard drive or pull an image down from a URL. When I selected the image I wanted, it displayed in the dialogue box -- but the image was too big and pushed the bottom of the dialogue box off the bottom of the screen, and I couldn't drag it up high enough to reach the "Add Image" or "Cancel" buttons again. I had to close the page and start over. Next time I tried with a smaller image, and found I could drag it anywhere I liked on the page and automatically select the display size.

Google Page Creator also offers an option to edit the HTML directly, which is good if you know what you're doing. It worked fine for simple lines of HTML code. What didn't work was a code snippet that Google itself gave me to embed a clip from its video database. No matter how many times I tried it, the code just disappeared after I saved the page, and never loaded the video. I tried the code on another site and it worked fine.

At the moment, Google isn't putting any ads on the pages created in Google Page Creator. However, it is a violation of the terms of service, to which you'll have to agree in order to use the Google Page Creator, to copy the source code generated by the Page Creator and put it anywhere else.

As it stands, I wouldn't use the Google Page Creator to make a static Web page, although my kids might enjoy playing around with it. It's easier to set up a WordPress or Mambo site through my hosting provider using Fantastico. But who knows? Google Pages might be pretty cool by the time it graduates from Google Labs.

Category:

  • Web Development
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