Google has a beta version of their new Web page creation tool, Google Pages. I gave it a look last Thursday and Friday. By Friday Google turned off new accounts temporarily; nonetheless, here are my general impressions.
You need to have a GMail accout to use Google Pages, and right now the only supported browsers are Firefox and I.E. The rendered Web pages are stored on Google’s servers, with a 100 MB storage limit. Others have compared Google Pages to the old Geopages, but I think they’re selling Google short. The Templates are nicer, as is the interface; in fact Google Pages is so far the best browser-based Web page creation tool I’ve seen. You can choose a Layout (1/2/3 columns, side bar on left or right) as well as a Template. There’s a simple to use Page Manager (the first thing you see after you log in) that lets you create new pages and delete them. Publish and Save are separate procedures, there’s a Preview tool, and a notification tool to let people know your pages are ready.
I think Google Pages is likely to be much easier for a naive user to figure out than other similar online tools. I note that the HTML is not standard (use View Source in your browser to see for yourself). Hard returns generate paragraph breaks. While you do have control over Font and Font style, (the fonts are as you’d expect, the Microsoft Six), and the color of text, the HTML generated by Google uses the deprecated Font tag. The font styles are limited to Bold and Italic, and the actual tags used are Em and Strong. I’d be grateful if they’d provide a Cite tag. I’m quite pleased that Google allows you to directly edit the HTML.
You can use images; there’s an Image insert and upload tool, basic image resizing, and a Link tool. The Link tool uses an exceedingly simple form; you enter a name for the link then the URL for the link. You can link to e-mail addresses, URLs, local pages or uploaded files.
There’s an odd error message and accompanying feature; I was just told “Another user has ended your editing session” with an option to “Break the lock.” Odd that; there shouldn’t be another user with my login. You can take a look at my test here.