JotSpot users: mixed feelings about Google Sites

Users and developers are concerned by the lack of an API for Google Sites and the limited information about migration paths and backwards compatibility between the services

Echoing a common complaint, Cancelliere said that Google's communication with the JotSpot community has been very limited, and that he hopes to see that change now. "That has been part of my frustration since the acquisition," said Cancelliere, who is business analyst and project manager specialized in the Scrum software development method at InCircuit.

When Google acquired JotSpot, it closed off new account registrations for it. Google continued supporting existing JotSpot customers, but they sometimes complained about hosting outages and performance problems and about lack of responsiveness for technical support queries.

Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs said via e-mail that providing a Google Sites API is "definitely" something Google wants to do, but it doesn't have a timeline to share yet for delivering it.

"We value [JotSpot users' and developers'] support, and are doing everything we can to ensure they can get their information into Google Sites in a simple and easy way as soon as possible," Kovacs said.

Google will not automatically migrate JotSpot wikis over to Google Sites, but it will provide users with an automated, one-click migration feature, Kovacs said. Google also plans to provide "detailed documentation" about migration when the technology is released, so that JotSpot users can see, for example, what will change and what will be new when moving to Google Sites, he said. Google officials said last week that they hope that eventually all JotSpot wikis will move to Google Sites.

As part of Google Apps, a suite of hosted collaboration and communication applications, Google Sites, like JotSpot, is designed to allow teams within an organization to easily create Web sites to collaborate on projects.

Teams can embed a variety of files and content from other Google applications and services, including video clips from YouTube, images from Picasa and Apps' spreadsheets, text documents, presentations and calendars. JotSpot has its own set of core applications, plus those built by external developers.

Despite the current uncertainty and unanswered questions, those interviewed said they were grateful to at least see Google moving forward with JotSpot. "I'm excited. It's been a long time coming," Cancelliere said.

Like Cancelliere, Adair found Google Sites very intuitive to use. She was able to build a site with it very quickly. "It was very easy to set up. I'll give them that," said Adair. She also liked that Google Sites' look-and-feel is very similar to JotSpot's.

"It's encouraging to see Sites announced. It didn't happen as fast the JotSpot community would have hoped, but it's a step in the right direction," she added.

Meanwhile, Dressler is confident that Google will prioritize opening up Sites' platform to third-party developers. "It seems to be Google's basic strategy to deliver access to APIs of their applications. We hope that'll be true in the Sites product as well," Dressler said.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service

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