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2009/08/28 - Welcome Update to Sites

posted Sep 22, 2009, 9:53 PM by Rick Anderson   [ updated Sep 22, 2009, 10:13 PM ]
Google provided a couple of needed enhancements to it's Sites product that can be extremely beneficial.

The first is the copy an entire site function.  This allows admins to copy an entire site and can be reached from the manage site --> general --> copy site.  An extremely useful feature where you can make a site in a test environment and then publish it to a new production environment.  You can also use the feature to generate site templates - lets say a school has a default look and feel for teacher web sites - a default can be created and copied at the start of the school year for each teacher.

The recent announcement gadget has a major enhancement in the ability to control how much text and a thumbnail option.  Previously the recent announcement gadget displayed a pre-defined text limit and didn't bring across any type of a picture/thumbnail.  Those text parameters can now be tweak and a thumbnail of the first photo will be displayed within the announcement block.

Searching within the site just became a bit stronger with the ability for the admin to control what happens when the user enters in a search parameter.  The new controls allow for searching within multiple sites so that a user can pick up information from multiple sub-domains.  For example, a school can setup the search parameter so that a single search can find information from all the school's website's located on the domain.  The search configuration is located under manage site --> site layout --> configure search.

Finally, an old friend returns - originally there was a start page that was included as part of the Google Apps experience - a place for each user to host their own definable start/home page.  Later, the start page was removed from Google Apps as they felt that the same could be achieved with a personal site within the user's domain.  While that's still true, there is now a template called "start page" which will allow the user to easily create their own user definable start/home page.