Yesterday morning I went to visit a faculty member—Andy Smith in Historic Preservation—who has been using Google sites for a project she is working on called Fred Buildings. It is actually one of the nicer sites I’ve seen built with Google Sites, and her question for me was about mapping a domain onto Google sites. Any long time reader of the bava knows I am obsessed with domain mapping so being given the opportunity to experiment with domain mapping on Google Sites was a total treat.
Let me start by saying that I didn’t know you could map a domain on a Google Site until yesterday, and they’ve had this service available for over a year and a half. While I tend to avoid Google Sites cause I find the service way too limited, realizing they have domain mapping available made me wish we were a Google School once again so I could experiment more with this across campus, particularly after realizing yesterday that you can map your root domain to one service, and various subdomains to other services without even having a webhosting account. This was a revelation to me, and something I figured out while experimenting with mapping a root domain to a Google Site and a subdomain to a blog on UMW Blogs (which could just as well be wordpress.com, blogger, typepad, etc.). If you think about it, this provides a way of having a namespace independent of a specific service while at the same time building a unique identity online that will allow you to move from service to service if necessary, yet keep a consistent presence. Something I wish Leigh Blackall had, because when I search his stuff I am spread across three different blogs, and while I like the fact that he moves services regularly (he is a badass in that regard—I could never leave the bava blog), I just wonder how he can stand all his awesome ideas remaining web service vagrants on the open web without a steady URL to call home.
OK, so, that said Leigh (or Big Papa), here’s the tutorial to get you started 😉
First things first, mapping your main domain to Google Sites. One of the limitations of Google Sites is if you map your main domain it has to be www.yourdomain.com, it can’t be just yourdomain.com. So, in order to map you main domain you have to do the following (this assumes you already have a domain name purchased through a service like Godaddy and have created a Google site). First, you need to point your main domain to to Google Sites. You do this in the Total DNS control panel on the service where you registered the domain, in this example I use Godaddy because I have an extra domain there laying around collecting dust.
As illustrated above, edit the CNAME field (or alias) for the www alias and point that to the host name ghs.google.com and save the changes.
Then I jump over to my Google sites account and go to Manage Site and then look for the Wed Address setting pictured below:
And add the main domain, in this case www.edupunk.net (keep in mind you need to add the www. prefix). After that click add web address, and your domain should map like mine did: http://www.edupunk.net
Now that in and of itself may not be so amazing, because I’ve been talking about domain mapping for a while with WPMu, and the idea that Google would have it makes sense. What is cool, and is a new discovery for me, is that while the m ain domain points to a Google site, I can have a subdomain like blog.edupunk.net point to another service like wordpress.com, blogger, or the ever great UMW Blogs without having a hosting account. It’s actually quite simple, all I did was add an A Record for the UMW Blogs IP address (188.8.131.52) in the Total DNS control panel at Godaddy:
And then, I created a CNAME (Alias) titled blog and pointed that to the umwblogs.org domain:
After that, I can go to a new blog I created on UMW Blogs (which has Domain mapping enabled for any blog on the system) such as edupunk.umwblogs.org and go to Tools—>Domain Mapping and simply add blog.edupunk.net.
Now, to get back to my original example, Andy Smith now has her Fred Buildings project on Google sites here and a blog for announcements and the like here. More proof that no faculty member at UMW can meet with me without getting a UMW Blog, it is impossible, and that’s why I’m the rightest Reverend ever.