iGoogle

What page do you use for your Web browser’s homepage? For the last ten years or so (I wrote it in 2001) I’ve been using this custom-made, hand-coded portal page hosted locally on an XAMPP Apache httpd server:

20110426-ghomepage

It’s served me well and required very little maintenance over the years. The horizontal menu at the top connects me with most of my main projects and the logo icons take me to what used to be my most-visited sites.

Two things, however, have prompted me to migrate away from this home-grown portal page:

  1. The page layout breaks in Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, which while not being my primary browser (by any stretch of the imagination) is still annoying when I boot it up to test pages.
  2. I’ve discovered Google Chrome Sync which enables me to synchronise bookmarks, extensions and themes across multiple computers (e.g. home PC, work PC, laptop).
  3. I’ve started using iGoogle as my main portal page:

20110426-igoogle

If you’ve not come across it before, iGoogle is a customizable, personalized Google homepage to which you can add widgets. It’s especially good if you, like me, use a lot of Google applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Reader and Google Docs.

I’m using a combination of a Google Bookmarks widget and Google Chrome bookmarks (which are synchronized with other PCs I work with) to store the genuinely useful links that I use on a regular basis.

Like many of my online experiments I decided that I’d give it a go for a week and review it after that. A fortnight passed before I realised that I’d missed my deadline… so I just kept using it.

I’ve tried other, similar portals such as NetVibes but I loved the simplicity and integration that iGoogle offered.