09 February 2009

The Difference Is Maintainability

So I write a lot of Python, and one of the claims promoters of the language usually make is that it helps you write more maintainable code. I think they're right in that claim, and I think they're right to stress the centrality of the issue.

We've discovered over the years at St. Francis House (and in my research group, for that matter, and at Wisconsin Engineer, if I remember correctly) that maintainability is also essential--and difficult--on the Web (of course, this is really just another kind of source-code-maintenance problem). In a high turnover organization, it's especially hard to cultivate a continuous Web presence.

Say what you will about the low-powered solution offered by Google Sites, I think they're on to something, and I'm super-excited that we've ported the St. Francis House website over to this system. Sure, I wish it were a little more flexible and powerful. But I think you'll agree that it lets you construct reasonably attractive and well organized sites (nearby St. Andrew's uses the system as well), and I can attest to the relative ease of use over other options (and I like screwing around with webpages and have learned a lot about XHTML/CSS in preparation for taking over for the semester as editor of this site about engineering education). Most importantly, no FTP or SCP is required (we computer geeks take these tools for granted, but I think they can be just as much a barrier as HTML).

I think Google's got another winner here, at least for a presumably significant market niche (groups who want a good site but can't afford to pay professionals, especially for maintenance and updating). I'll keep you posted as to whether the feature-set improves in the coming months.

1 comment:

Kyle Matthew Oliver said...

Would-be users take note: do not make a Google Sites site from your Google account and then sign up for domains, etc. with Google Apps. There doesn't seem to be a way to port an existing Google Site over to a new Google Site instance in your new Google Apps account. I spent a lot of time rebuilding this site tonight (which yes of course would have been easy if I had ssh access and a traditional from-scratch site, but see again the title of this post).