Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Groupware: Google vs Yahoo

I'm a Google guy. I started out a Yahoo! guy, but it seemed that each time my paper signed a new deal with Yahoo, I discovered how much better a Google web application was over it's Yahoo! counterpart, and I moved over, bit by bit. I felt like a betrayer, but Google is just soooooo much better.

Usually.

This week I've been trying to figure out the best way for our new soccer team to stay in touch. Mainly we just need an email list and a calendar, but since not every member of the team might be web savvy, it needs to be simple and integrated. I was surprised when I couldn't match a Google Calendar with a Google Group in an elegant way.

I so much prefer Google Calendar over Yahoo!'s Calendar ... it was the first service I moved. I like having separate calendars for different aspects of my life that I can turn on and off. I think it is super cool that you can embed those calendars on other web pages for those who may not have a Google account. The iPhone interface is usable, though not knock-your-socks-off.

Yahoo! just falls a little short. Too much visual noise, not enough feature.

I like the Google Groups email list and archive better than Yahoo!, too. It's not a clear frontrunner like with Calendar, but Google is clean and elegant and I like the threading. But here is the kicker: there is no way to gracefully connect a Google calendar to a group. In Yahoo, it's just built in. You can create pages within Google Groups, so I figured I would just embed the calendar into a page, but it won't take it. I can "edit html" and put in the code and preview, but once I save it says it doesn't support javascript.

Of course, Yahoo! has its flaws, too. Oh, they both do.

Some of my groupware wishes:

* Yahoo! Groups has a photo gallery, but why isn't it the far-superior flickr?
* I like the task and event combination in Yahoo, and wish that Google had an integrated task list. That said, Remember the Milk is the best, most useful web application in the 2.0 space. I could (and will) devote a post or even two to RTM. I use it all day, every day, for my task list. It's the only way I stay sane. RTM does have integration with Google calendar, but I found it much more functional used separately.
* There are other features available with Yahoo Groups: databases, photos, polls, files, etc. Google has fewer of those features, but to be honest they concentrate on the things that matter and do them very well: member management and email list/message archiving. Pages and files are useful (with the exception of that embed problem.)

But why, oh why, can't Google just bring their Groups together with the Calendar.

I thought about starting a whole Google Apps site, but we don't really need all that. (I once experimented with moving all my cmcdonald.com email accounts over to Google Apps and while I liked the family calendars and such, I couldn't port over my existing Blogger and Picasa accounts, so it just wasn't workable.)

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