Few weeks back I signed up for Google Apps for Your Domain, now called just Google Apps for my college alumni. It was tempting, since we were already holding a domain, and running a WordPress blog hosted by Wordpress.com(via domain integration). We were a little unhappy with Wordpress since it put lot of limitations in our ability to do anything with the scripts, which it does not allow, till you take their software and host it elsewhere. We defined our objective as follows:
- Keep the blog format(which means we did explore Jumla, Xoops, Drupal for content management, but decided not go forward for the time being ) due to its flexibility and collaborative abilities.
- We wanted to start email service, without taking too much headaches, and yet wanted the best.
- Run the blog on the domain
- Retain flexibility on our ability to play with the html.
We succeeded in some steps quite easily, and learnt some steps the hard way, and yet to figure out some missing ones.
- Learning One: Domain registrar and domain host are two different animals. Both should clap for your GAFYD to work.Sometimes the same company performs the two roles for you.
- Learning Two:Don't look for just low cost domain registrars, look at the flexibility you get.Cheap domains may not allow you to play with CNAME, MX etc and you will be stuck midway.If need be, change your registrar to one who provides comprehensive services. Migration is quite easy, just that it takes few days.
- Learning Three: Do not try to achieve the email and publishing intergration with Blogger on the same domain, there is no clarity whether it is possible. (It sure appears possible, but does not seem to work in real life)
- Learning Four: Do not expect Google Staff to respond to every panic email from you, read this page thoroughly and go to discussion forums. Discussion forums may not solve every one of your problem, but atleast you will have the (sadist!) comfort that others have the same problem too.
- Learning Five: Inline URL frame is your best bet to achieve Blogger integration. However, Google juice will taste differently(meaning it will index yoursite.blogspot.com) and not yoursite.com which is your domain
- Learning Six: Inline URL frame is crazy too, no matter which internal link the user clicks, the browser will continue to read yoursite.blogspot.com
- Learning Seven: Migrating hundreds of users on email, have the password logic ready. I felt good using a random number and character combo, which I generated in XL. Worked fine. Do not give the same initial password to all users.
- Learning Eight: If you are stuck with some registrar who offers only NX level manipulation and you are reluctant to migrate your domain to any other registrar, you also have the option of hiring an intermediary such as Dynamic Network.
(Google recently launched a Premier Edition of Google Apps, read incisive observations at Digital Inspiration, recently rated Best Science/Technology IndiBlog 2006)