Tuesday, 10 November 2009

How does google end product life?

For me that's one of the key questions. Google has so many wonderful products but I'm going to be pretty darned annoyed if I invest a lot of time and trust in a product and then find it gets pulled and I lose everything.

Well now that Googles maturing it's starting to retire some of its products. Google Notebook is one of those. So how have Google handled this. They've posted an article explaining their reasons and transition strategies for those concerned. Fair enough.

I have a google notebook account with a couple of notes in it. I never really got into using it but, heck I want to see if the export works cos what happens for notebook may happen for gmail and gdocs when their end of life comes up. It's scarey but these crucial apps will get retired at some point.

So I followed the advice to export to gdocs. it failed. I got this error.

Server Error

The server had trouble completing your request, but this is probably a temporary error. Please try again in 30 seconds.

I tried 3 times. I kept getting the error. Checked, yep I can still access gdocs. All is fine.

Ok, don't panic can I export to html? assuming I can still import this to gdocs. Ok I get an html page with my notes in. yey. But I then have to save the page in my browser and upload to gdocs. Did this and the uploaded document has lost all its formatting. I tried updating the html. No change. Bunner. So now all the effort I put into organisation like putting the labels and titles in the right place is gone. Let alone how do I get them into tasks.

It's not a complete bust for me. I don't expect perfection. End of life of less popular tools is part of life. I'm happy that I have an html version. so I've got my data in a standardised format. It could have been a lot worse.

It's just not quite as useful as I'd hoped. So far my concerns with Google are about important and export. I can now export all docs in gdocs. Great but I've found errors in most files exported. In most the data is effectively lost. In gtasks I can export a list but not the notes and dates that form part of the list.

These are all niggly things but they all form my impression of trust worthiness of the product and the people behind the product.

so my conclusion is that Google is better than most at doing this at scale. But they still aren't up to my expectations.

Appjet and etherpad
With googles recent acquisition of appjet I see that they've implemented a quick conversion of etherpad accounts, which run on appjet, to google wave accounts. The content being transferred automatically. It's nice to hear that the etherpad code will be open sourced and that the user base was made aware of the plans and given a chance to feed back. Ultimately though. the users don't get a choice to use etherpad as they intended. They now must use wave. they just get to hope that wave works like etherpad pretty soon. I wonder how that will turn out.
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