Google Sites API Lets Developers Move Data to, from Wikis

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-09-24

Drawing on programming work from its Data Liberation Front, Google Sept. 24 released an API intended to let programmers move data freely to and from Google Sites.

Google Sites is the wiki component of the Google Apps suite of cloud computing applications. Google Sites lets users upload file attachments and add information from Google Docs, Google Calendar and other Google Apps to a Web page to be shared with users in a department or workgroup. The application competes with wiki apps from MindTouch, Socialtext, Atlassian and IBM, among other providers.

The Google Sites API, launched from Google Code Labs, makes use of the Google Data protocol to provide developers with full read/write access to all Sites content. Software developers can use the programming interface to write programs to migrate Web pages, documents and other content from intranets, content management applications and other wiki applications, Scott Johnston, senior product manager for Google Sites, told eWEEK.

Conversely, "If you choose to stop using Google Sites, you can bring your content with you," Johnston said. "We want to lock you in because you like the product, not because we have your content."

The API includes this import/export tool to let users download an entire Google Site wiki to their computers' local hard drives. The tool uses HTML microformats to generate an XHTML version of Sites content for offline browsing and simple HTTP hosting that can also be imported back into Websites.

"We have companies and users that are putting a lot of important information inside Sites, and they want the comfort of knowing they can back it up if they want to," Johnston said.

The API embodies the tenets of Google's Data Liberation Front, which was formally launched Sept. 14 with the goal of creating import and export functions to help users move their data in and out of Google's services.

Google is positioning tools released under the Front as alternatives to more traditional software from companies such as Microsoft and IBM, which are very rigid about keeping user data within the construct of their collaboration applications.

Google no doubt hopes these gestures of good faith will endear it to more businesses considering whether or not to use Google Apps. Google could use such gestures; the company's cloud model has been damaged by a few Google Apps outages.

Earlier Sept. 24 Google's Gmail experienced service degradation for 2 hours when Google Contacts went wonky. On Sept. 1, Google's Gmail went down for 2 hours. Such downtime episodes undercut Google's credibility among enterprise users, some of whom pay $50 per user, per year for Google Apps.

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