Google Apps and WordPress would seem to be natural integration partners especially for organizations that want to keep their web content publishing entirely in the cloud. There is a short list of options both in the WordPress Plug-in Directory and in the Google Apps Marketplace that can help you with this integration. The options I profile in this post work only with the self-hosted version of WordPress.
WordPress Google Form
While you can embed a Google Form into WordPress using HTML Code, the free WordPress Google Form plugin enables you to embed Google forms into a WordPress page or post with a bit more control. The plugin pulls a published Google form using the WordPress short code [gform form=’ ‘] and then renders it on your WordPress sites. Optionally, you can create a URL for a confirmation page that overrides the default page the Google Docs generates when a user submits a form.
The advantage of using this plug-in includes better controls over styles and formatting and taking away that Google Form feeling. While there are a lot of WordPress form creation and management plug-ins available, this is the one that will feed directly into your Google Apps backend. By virtue of this fact, I recommend it for sites that need a form that feeds into a Google Apps based workflow.
Figure A shows the WordPress Google Form controls available once you install the plugin on your WordPress site.
WordPress Google Form controls
Docs to WordPress
Although the Docs to WordPress plugin is still in beta, it represents what could perhaps be the ultimate integration option between Google Docs and WordPress. This plug-in is designed to grab documents out of a collection in Google Docs and then publish them to WordPress. However, it also hasn’t been tested with current versions of WordPress. This is one of the few plugins ever, where I wish development would resume.
Unfortunately, development on the plugin last took place in 2011. This writer hopes that somebody picks up the development of this plugin in the future.
Google Docs Embedder
The Google Docs Embedder WordPress plugin is similar to Scribd or SlideShare and lets you embed several types of files into a WordPress page or blog post. The plugin includes its own reader so you don’t have to launch Google Apps in a new browser windows or even Microsoft Office. Optionally, you can download the file directly from the embedded document viewer on your WordPress page. You also have the option to view and download a range of other popular document and image formats.
Once you install the Google Docs Embedder, it’s available from your WordPress Editor toolbar. Figure B shows the Google Docs Embedder dialog box.
Google Docs Embedder dialog box
The dialog box includes all the features you need for creating short codes to link with documents in your Google Apps account.
e5 Web site Builder
While WordPress plugins may seem the natural path for integrating Google Apps and WordPress, e5 Web site Builder in the Google Apps Marketplace is a definite option. It includes the following integration options:
- Read Only
- Groups Provisioning for managing Groups.
- User Nicknames
- User Provisioning
- Docs (Displays documents )
- Calendar (Displays next calendar appointment)
- Contacts (Manages contacts)
Figure C shows e5 Web site Builder open and ready to edit a WordPress site.
Site in e5 Web site Builder
While e5 Web site Builder has a free option, it takes the Premium version to really do any serious publishing which it to be expected.
Zapier is an automation tool that supports integrating Google Apps with a range of applications not just WordPress. It works via tasks and triggers letting you automate repetitive tasks, do away with duplicate data entry, and sync data between Google Apps and WordPress.
I signed up for a 14-day trial of Zapier and was impressed by the fact that it doesn’t take a programmer to integrate Google Docs with WordPress. While it might take some practice, it is possible to create triggers and actions that can automate content creation and posting. A WordPress trigger might include when a new comment gets posted or you publish a new post to a WordPress blog. On the Google Docs side, actions might include creating a file from text or copying a document from a trigger. Figure D shows Zapier setup with WordPress and Google Docs.
Integrate Google Apps and WordPress with Zapier
While Zapier is a bit pricey when compared with e5 website Builder and free WordPress plugins, it does have a lot to offer to organizations that need to automate tasks but don’t have access to a full time programmer or, for overhead tasks in organizations, where programmers need to be billable. Read Automate web actions with two apps: IFTTT and Zapier by Andy Wolber for more information about using Zapier.
Google Apps to WordPress for publishing
What I found, when it comes to integrating Google Apps and WordPress, was a short list of plugins that run the gamut of my expectations. The plugins range from simple WordPress plugins for posting Google Forms and documents to a web services tool that automates a number of tasks. Somewhere in that spectrum there should be a solution you can use.