Google offers Wiki, store capabilities for Web sites

Google Inc. is seeking to further boost its profile on Web sites with the release of four Google Web Elements intended to integrate Google products into Web sites.

Released on Friday, the new Google Web Elements include Sidewiki, Checkout, Wave, and Virtual Keyboard.

“Google Web Elements are great for folks who don’t have much time or experience. However, even for advanced developers, Elements are a great starting point, as most are backed by an underlying API to give you even more control over the content or look and feel,” said Jeff Scudder and Adam Feldman, of the Google Web Elements team, in a blog post.

“Google Sidewiki makes it easy for visitors to your Web site to share helpful information with each other. Unlike regular comments, all Sidewiki entries are ranked by usefulness so that the best ones are shown first,” Feldman and Scudder said. Built on the Sidewiki API, Google Sidewiki can be customized to fit a Web site.

The Google Checkout element enables development of an online store via a spreadsheet. Users can get a store up and running in less than five minutes, Scudder and Feldman said.

“Once you have a Google Checkout merchant account, you just have to add details for each item you’re selling into a Google spreadsheet then use the wizard and copy/paste the code into your Web sitee. The element is compatible with Blogger, Google Sites, iGoogle, and personal Web sites where HTML can be modified, but doesn’t require any programming skills or experience,” the team members said.

Google Wave Element enables developers to place a wave, or a shared workspace, onto a Web site.

“The wave could be used for many different things, including: encouraging collaborative discussion among the visitors or as a means of publishing content on the page,” Feldman and Scudder said.

The Virtual Keyboard element enables placement of a virtual keyboard on a site.

“After choosing a keyboard layout, copy and paste the HTML into your page and voila, a virtual keyboard will be able to enter characters into any text input or text area on your page,” said Feldman and Scudder. “If you’ve never heard [of] a virtual keyboard, it’s an on-screen keyboard which translates the input from one keyboard layout to another and it allows users to type their own languages on foreign keyboards or by clicking the on-screen display.”

Some previous Google Web Elements have included Calendar, News, Translate, and YouTube News.

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