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Google Apps

Why should we consider Google Apps?
  • Discussions forums (Google Groups) and Wikis (Google Sites) for free customer peer-to-peer support.
  • We get important feedback from customers.
  • State of the art; Reliable; Industry standard forums. Many customers already familiar with Google web apps. So nothing new to learn.
  • Bring your own domain (not for Groups yet).
  • Much cheaper than maintaining your own servers / forums / backups / updates / staff / spam filters / etc etc
  • You can make advanced modules that dock into Google Site (Wiki) that can connect to our own servers and it's data (useful?).

Google Apps Access

  • Requires you sign up for a Google account (similar to Yahoo).
  • Log into Google Apps using any email address ( addresses already qualify as members). 
  • How to create a google account...

1. Click Sign In

2. Click "Create an account now"

3. Enter the email address you will use and your initial password. Click "I accept, Create my account"

Note: Alternatively sign up for a Google mail account -

Google Groups

I prefer Google Groups over Yahoo Groups for a number of reasons...

Adverts - More tasteful, less in your face advertising. Often below the fold in the right column (similar to adverts).

Easy access
via GMail or menu.

Wiki pages
- Each Discussion Group also has Pages. So its like a simple Wiki + Discussions combined.

Pages access can be set - Public / Members / Managers only.

Flexible User Configuration Options

Google Groups for our SW products

We plan to link our software directly to a Google group (help menu).
  • Shift+F1 links directly to a Google Group page.
  • Setup so only moderators can edit pages.
  • These pages are like an extension of F1 local help.
    Moderators summarize and keep these pages in shape..
  • Each page has a discussion thread associated with it.
Other Features - Similar or better  than other forums:
  • RSS Feeds - (do we understand the importance of RSS? Do we need a demo?)
  • Notification of changes (email and RSS).
  • WYSIWYG online editor
  • Stick to top discussion post option.
  • Easy to use. Search the entire group (discussions and pages). Fast access. 99.9% up time.
  • Google manage and pay for it all. Backup and do regularly updates.
Privacy Settings
  • Options: "Only member only view"  or "Anyone can view".
  • Normally members cannot view other members email addresses.
  • First time posters need approval. Or you can force everyone to have posts approved.
Validation of new Members

You can specify questions for new members to answer when applying for membership.

eg. You could ask them to supply Instrument receipt number (if "legal" want tighter scrutiny).

Best to keep barriers low so we get lot's of members.

Google Site


Google purchased JotSpot wiki Feb 2006 and made it available via Google App on the 28th of Feb, 2008. A few months later it was available to all as a standalone app.

Why Google Wiki?
  • Easy way to create a collaborative online web of info.
  • Full history of changes kept. Easy roll-back. 
  • Easy for moderators to monitor and keep organized.
  • Easily search all pages across the site.
  • WYSIWYG editor. Edit live online.
  • Members must be added by hand. Users cannot subscribe.
    • This could work in our favor. We could put material we want to limit (Experiments etc) on a Wiki.
      And only allow membership to those who can prove they own a Varian Instrument or pay for it.
  • Branding - Can customize banners and appearance.
  • Add anyone as a contributor or viewer (must have a google account).

Google Apps (Sites Continued)

Google Apps allows you to bring your own domain.
The various Google Apps (GMail / Site / GTalk / Documents / Web pages / Calendar) are accessed via your own domain name.

Free. However for US$50/yr per user, you get premium support.
You could have 5-50 core members ($250 - $2500) who administor the domain.
Note that each Site (wiki) you create (on the domain) can have as many invited members as you want (all free).

NOTE: Many Schools and Businesses are adding up the cost of running running IT (Staff, Hardware. Software, Bandwidth, Backup, Spam control, Server Rebuilds, Diskspace) and finding that $50/person is a reasonable cost.

Linking Sites to Sub-domains

Very easy to give each Site a sub-domain name.

EG. I created a free Google App with a domain ($10/yr) called
I then created this site and gave it a sub-domain name of "wiki".

We could just as easily have a domain called and add sites to that.

More info

Google Apps Future

There some missing features. Google are working on it.

Vote for a feature here

Most noticeable missing features:
  • No RSS feeds for Sites.
  • No viewer comments.
  • Link integration of Groups with Sites/Google apps.
  • Can't subscribe to a Site.