Five things every IT pro should know about Google Sites

From working with JavaScript to setting page-level permissions, Bill Detwiler shares five things every IT pro should know about Google Sites.

Google Sites is a collaborative website development tool that's part of the Google Apps Suite. Sites lets users quickly create internal and external websites. And whether you're a Google Apps for Business administrator or just have a Gmail account, knowing a few Sites basics will help you use and support the product. In this week's TR Dojo episode, I cover five things every IT pro should know about Google Sites.

For those who prefer text to video, click the View Transcript link below the video player window or check out Susan Cline's article, "10 myths about Google Sites debunked and dispelled," on which this video is based.

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Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...


A 6th thing to know when you use Google sites is that they require the use of cookies that may violate business IT security standards. Whenever you visit a Google website, a tracking cookie is placed on your computer that tracks each webpage you visit. Google claims they have permission to track your account whenever you visit a Google website, regardless whether or not you sign-in OR whether or not you give them permission to do so. However, most users do not realize nor have given permission for these tracking cookies to be placed in their web browser. Google claims they retain the "anonymous" cookie tracking info for 30 - 60 days and then supposedly discard it. However, it has been alleged on the Internet that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has access and keeps these Google cookie logs which they may use as yet another way for DHS to monitor Internet activity among users. If you or your company tries to block Google or other tracking cookies, it can be done, but there is a trade-off... Google allows any user (registered or un-registered) to "opt-out" of Google tracking cookies, but to stop Google cookie tracking, you have to allow another Google cookie to block it. Problems occur whenever you clear the cookies cache because you would then have to go back to the Google website and reinstall the Google Opt-out cookie. This Google requirement to install a cookie to block a tracking cookie is cumbersome at best, so I looked for a more viable solution. As far as I am aware, there does not appear to be a viable software utility to stop cookies tracking when I use IE8 or IE9. However, there is a great Mozilla Firefox freeware or commercial version add-on from that fulfills this cookie concern. This is why I chose to switch from IE8 to Firefox. When installed on recent versions of Firefox, Ghostery allows you to block cookies from sending info back to their Internet source. I have found the utility to be especially effective in blocking most cookies when Javascript is disabled in the browser. With the recent discussions about "Super Cookies" that automatically reinstall after being deleted, I do not know if Ghostery can handle these problem cookies. Google's gets a monetary gain from directed advertising to these "anonomyous"without the express prior permission of those users who merely access Google websites. It seems to me that Google should at least enable users to opt-out of tracking cookies without requiring the installion of another cookie. It is my understanding that the Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Google Sites and Google apps for unauthorized invasions of Internet users personal and private information through the use of cookies. Time will tell if the FTC with their small staff of 3 "data security" lawyers will be able to bring a case against Google for possible illegal data harvesting from users or whether the FTC will have to issue a "cease and desist" order to get Google to stop tracking user information without the users' permission. Please note that I am not affiliated in any way with the FTC, Mozilla, or Ghostery and the opinions expressed are solely my own.


Good information about this tool.


We are working with IT directors all over, and just general tech-savvy clients, to set Google Sites up for businesses. While you can "do it yourself" you can also take Google Sites to the next level. I appreciate you getting the word out about Google Sites. Thanks for pointing out the thought on JavaScript through gadgets. There's a lot of potential there.

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