Yesterday, I saw a headline that initially caused me to skip reading the post. The headline was “Picasa Web Albums integration, site feeds, and page templates in Google Sites”“. That is the most recent blog post from the Google Sites team. I skipped it because I really only saw the “Picasa Web Albums integration” part of the headline and figured that it was not really that big of a deal. Today, a different headline caught my eye, “A Central Place for All Your Google Files“. It is a post from Google Operating System that talks about the Google Sites post. This caused me to read the original post from Google. At this point, you already know about the Picasa Web Albums integration, but that is not what interested me.
New Feed Options
The first interesting nugget is that Sites now have various new feed options:
You can now access any announcement page as a feed by adding posts.xml to the end of that announcement page URL… Feeds are also available for site comments (add “comments.xml”) and site activity (add “activity.xml”). Announcement and comment feeds follow the permission of the site and require authentication for private sites.
This does not sound like much for those people who are blog savvy. Blogger and WordPress have had feeds for posts and comments for a long time. The site activity feed is slightly different than what you are used to because it comes from the land of the wiki. Wiki sites tend to have a recent activity feed that lists all of the recent changes to the site.
New Custom Templates
The other important piece of news was the addition of custom templates:
Lastly, we also added the ability to create custom page templates for a site. Creating a page template lets you define default content as well as settings, like layout, that other collaborators can use when they create a new page. For example, if you are working on an intranet site, you can create a department page template and use that template for each department page.
I have recently talked about Google Sites becoming a more complete content management system (CMS) and possibly going after Microsoft SharePoint. The addition of these custom templates are a major step in that direction. One of the big features of many wiki or collaboration sites is the ability to create a page template with a specific type of content on it.
What About Blogger?
So, if Google Sites has all of these cool features, then why even promote a service like Blogger? First, you will always need some introductory level product, and Blogger fits that niche well. Eventually, I think we will see that Google Sites will become a “ultra-Blogger” of sorts. There will be an easy way to setup a site that is just meant for blogging with some core templates. If there is a logical path from Blogger to Sites, it is also ripe for premium fees as well. This is even more true as Sites becomes more of an enterprise collaboration tool.
The question now, is what else is missing? What features does Sites need to become Blogger++? What features would put Sites on the same level as SharePoint?