Google Sites

A recent discussion on the WELSTechWiki - 

Pastor Steve Daley - Petra, Sauk Rapids, MN

I'm thinking of moving some of our documents to Google Apps to make it easier for editing the same document instead of transferring documents back and forth by email. At this point in time I'm thinking of using this mostly for church work. However, we do have a school here as well with four computers (18 total students), two computers for teachers, and two computers for Pastor and secretary.

I'm wondering about the best route for setting up Google Apps. Would it be best to set it up as an educational domain or as a non-profit domain, considering at first we would be looking to use it for church documents and a few pastor/principal documents too.

  • Are there advantages to one or the other?
  • Since I would be the primary user could I just use my Google Apps account and share?
  • We have Final Web for our website and domain, I know that others have tied their Google "site or apps" to their domain is this something different?
  • Any good tutorials out there?
Ken Becker - Star of Bethlehem

You might want to look at Microsoft Live (www.live.com). With Live, you can upload and share any Office document in its native format. Authorized users can open the documents using their Office applications without downloading a copy. When they close the file, it will be updated in the Live file share. 

The nice part about this is that the files do not get converted like they do on Google, and you can use the full-powered Office apps that you have today.

Pastor Nathan Ericson - Martin Luther, Oshkosh, WI

I would go the "for Education" route, since you get more product for less money (free), if I understand correctly.

We use it here at Martin Luther, Oshkosh WI, and applied through the Education channel.

If you're used to the responsiveness of Microsoft Word (being installed locally, as opposed to using the Google word processor through the internet) and if you like typographical precision, you might not be very happy with the Google word processor, but for saving files and using them in other locations it works quite handily. That's especially true now that you can keep a Word document in Word format.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by your second question; could you elaborate?

You can use the same domain name for Google Apps, but instead of the www third-level domain, you would use "sites" or "docs" or "mail," etc.; we use "gmail.martinlutheroshkosh.com" among others. You will need to set this up where your domain is hosted. I'm not sure whether FinalWeb lets you edit this yourself, or if you have to ask them to do it.

One great benefit of using Google Apps for email is that its spam filter is excellent.

Luke

Seems like Google Apps is a popular topic everywhere you go...
(Aka Google Apps for Your Domain, GAYFD, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Apps )

I'll try to keep points concise:
  • Gayfd is free for <50 users, seems like you could have 'full' 25GB Gafyd for no cost
  • 'Non-profit' was added to th Edu edition, but they are basically the same thing (my non-profit hospital of 1000 employees started out in EDU edition, for free!)
  • With websites, the choice is yours: keep your existing host (FinalWeb) or if you like Google Sites, move to that for free
  • Same with email: you can host in Gafyd, or not.
  • We use AD account synchronization, but that would likely be overkill for your organization size.
  • Yes. There are lots of tutorials, and FAQs/KnowledgeBases/etc. But it is a broad topic, there is no 10pg document that tells you everything, obviously.
  • One key note... you just mentioned collaboration, and 'maybe' a website... to do this, you don't need to go full blown GAYFD. You could just sign up with user1@gmail.comuser2@gmail.com, etc... and share your documents from there.
I saw the other reply about Windows Live, aka SkyDrive; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Live_SkyDrive
Gayfd and Live.com share a lot of similarities and overlap, but there are some key differences too. The perceived benefit hangs heavily on whether you are a Microsoft or Google Fan, and your real business needs.

But at a very high level, some thoughts ( I do have a SkyDrive account as well):
  • I think Google's approach is more holistic, whereas with MS it seems like they are trying to marry existing products together (email: msn/hotmail, im: msn messenger, keep using your PC's office install with the option of the 'lite' online editor, photos: windows live photos, no websites , etc)
  • As Ken noted, Microsoft owns Office on your PC, and Live.com... so yes, they (in theory ;) ) have 100% compatibility. (E.g. on Live.Com you can upload big Powerpoints (e.g. > 25MB), Google has a cap; and the PPT player in Live.Com is nicer)
  • I think Google's collaborative tools are better (e.g. working on the same document in real-time, seeing your partners changes highlighted, and in browser chatting).
  • With Gayfd, one big sell is you get your domain, e.g.: http://sitkalutheran.net/ , I don't believe MS has this (?).
  • At a very high level MS is offering BPoS, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Online_Services, but I think that is overkill for you as well.
I try not to be too much of a fanatic, but I do think that Gayfd is still leading the race for a 'complete' solution, and MS is playing catchup. But, as said before, it may depend heavily on your usage needs (e.g. you all have hotmail.com accounts, and only want to collaborate on .pptx docs... then probably live.com for you).

Lastly, if that wasn't wordy enough, send me your phone# in a private email, and I'll call you up sometime.
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