Of course, there's real value in tools that are less than industrial strength – those ostensibly aimed at consumers. Google-owned YouTube, for example, offers a free and easy method to host, embed and serve video on websites, for example.

Blogger is still one of the most flexible hosted content publishing tools there is, with AdSense integration making it the only free platform that allows you to earn from advertising.

Feedburner

Then there's Google Sites, a tool that's eminently suited to intranet usage, given its collaborative, wiki-style editing tools and structure. Other tools that can be integrated directly into your website, with embeddable code ready to use, include photo organiser Picasa, Google Maps and Google Merchant Center (formerly known as Google Base).

Designer Guy Hoogewerf uses them all – and more. "My methodology is simple," says Guy. "Why reinvent the wheel? If (Picasa) has created slideshow code, we should use it. Google has so many tools that it should be a web developer's dream come true."

While the tools we've considered so far are all directly applicable to the design and development process, Google has other services that enable teams to work together on projects.

Take Google Documents, which now enables you to upload and share files of any type. "It's not exactly a development tool, but Google Docs is definitely part of our web development efforts," says Prem Prakash, senior developer at Likemind.

Google docs

"We use documents and spreadsheet aspects of Google Docs for collaboration and information-sharing within the team for in-house projects. It's saved us from keeping multiple versions of Excel files. We also like the fact that the spreadsheets are available to all concerned, at all times, and that we can all work on them simultaneously."

Similarly, Google Calendar, with its shared, colour-coded calendar features, can be useful for project management. With Gmail integration, you can directly add appointments to Calendar from email or receive reminders or alerts in your inbox.

And while we're on the theme of collaboration, Google Wave may not be as popular as Google expected, but it does provide an ideal forum for real-time collaboration, with tools for chat, thread creation, posting images and documents and the all-important whiteboard.

Google maps

Did you even realise Google had so many diverse projects on the go? From complex, near-clandestine efforts like Google's programming language Go to well-known consumer tools like YouTube, there's one thing that effectively unites them all; imaginative web developers and designers can harness the power of these free-to-use tools to make great websites.

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First published in .net Issue

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