Quickie: on Google Web Designer

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Disclaimer: I work for Mozilla, these are my views, yadda yadda.

Today Google released the Google Web Designer (beta), a WYSIWYG editor to create HTML5 ads for Google AdSense.
Google Web Designer

The designer is an installable app for Mac or PC but seems to be an HTML app under the hood. The interface is very familiar to people who use Adobe’s tools to create ads in the past (yeah, the F(lash) word) and seems to be a directly catered to AdSense alternative to Adobe’s Edge suite.

Of course, when there is a new editor out, shenanigans are afoot really quickly and David Matthams scored the Twitter goal with his Google Web Designer creation of outstanding beauty (yes, this was sarcasm, yes, David’s creation is a joke).

Here’s the thing though: I do applaud Google for what they’ve done here. First of all, the tool creates CSS animated ads – not JavaScript driven ones and despite a few hitches (div class=”gwd-div-s33n editable editable editable editable editable editable gwd-gen-8p5fgwdanimation gwd-div-ydjn gwd-gen-8p5fgwdanimation-gen-animation0keyframe” being an interesting one) the code is clean, supports all the browser prefixes and a non-prefixed fallback and is editable by a machine and readable by a human.

The latter is a very important bit: getting on our high horse and trying to quarrel with the semantics of generated code like this is futile. These are ads. They are clickable videos, and their main task is to look pretty and get people to buy stuff whilst working in all environments. And this code achieves that goal quite well.

HTML5 needs tools, there is no question about it. And whoever had to work with ad providers knows that a lot of ads cause havoc with your memory consumption and page performance. This tool, at least, does not do that and uses Google’s fixation on performance.

So before we snigger at “the return of Dreamweaver or Flash’s fallback output”, let’s take a moment and remember that a lot of content out there on the web that pays our wages and bills is built by people who have no clue about HTML. And we are arrogant enough not to ever touch the projects they get paid to create.

So, I for one, am happy about more tools that are having a good start and hope they’ll go far. In this instance especially, I wouldn’t be surprised if that will be a part of the AdSense site sooner or later and I am extremely happy that it is not a Chrome App that does not work with other browsers, but a tool that people can use.

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