Google Web Designer

So, anyone heard of Google Web Designer yet?

My first thought when someone first brought it to my attention was: “Well, it’s finally happened, Google has put me and all web professionals out of jobs… I wonder what qualifications you need to sell hats..?”. So I took a deep breath and pressed the “Download” button.

Cautiously I opened the software to see what fantastic plethora of functionality lay before me.

Google Web Designer

So, it actually looks as though Google have developed a tool mainly for generating HTML5 adverts for use across any platform. There are options there to generate full HTML pages, however it looks as though the core functionality of the software (as with pretty much everything Google builds) lays around advertising. Namely, HTML5 animated advertising.

To anyone who used to use Flash back in the mid 2000s (or those who still do, if that’s even a thing..?) the interface will look quite familiar. The timeline, keyframe and layer structure are a blast from the past.

I decided to have a little play with it, just to see what the software can do (or what I can do with it). I think one of the first things that I realised was that no, this is not going to be the software that brings web design and development to the masses and generates a very long and somewhat nerdy queue of designers and developers outside every Job Centre.

The software is quite fiddly to use, and switching to ‘Code View’ would make anyone who had not spent long, bitter hours wrestling with ‘source’ shudder. But the interface is undeniably clean, and I’m sure with a few more hours, or some actual documentation it would all slot into place.

Once I had figured out how to put images on to the stage and generate new layers, I was able to produce a basic animated banner. Another nice feature is that you can directly reference web fonts from Google Fonts directly through the sofware.

Google Web Designer UKDS Logo

I have to admit, manipulating objects in 3D was a lot easier using Google Web Designer than it would have been if I had written the CSS transform: translateZ(); and manually creating the matrix3d array. In fact, I could definitely see this software being incredibly useful for creating nice interactive logos, or small web objects such as buttons or navigation items. Oh, and obviously adverts. Lots and lots of adverts.

So, here’s the final result I managed from about 25 minutes of playing around with Google Web Designer:

Reload Demo

First impressions are that it is certainly a nice bit of kit – and I can see it has a lot of potential for generating rich web content. The outputted source is not exactly what you’d call semantic, but if it’s good enough for Google then it’s probably good enough for the rest of us. I feel like if they are trying to aim the software at novices then it still has a long way to go – but for professionals I can see it as a great time saver.

Note: Please excuse the iframe, the published project outputs quite a lot of superfluous js and css that I didn’t want bloating this page.

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