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by Franki

Google have just released details that they are soon to go down the “myGoogle” route and offering personalisation to their offerings. That will bring them into line with Yahoo and MSN who have both introduced personal pages to their services. Not enough is known at this time just how Google plan to differ their service from the others but it’s a good bet they will go for something flashy that uses a heap of DHTML like Google maps.

This raises some interesting questions for the rest of us, should those of us running dynamic sites strive to achieve some level of personalisation ourselves? Is it really worth the effort to do so? What are the benefits of doing so? Questions of that nature. The answer depends entirely on what the purpose of your site is, and what purpose it serves. There can be no doubt that personalisation can make a site much stickier then it would otherwise be, but if you are not chasing return business (who isn’t?) then what benefit is it to you? From HTMLfixIT’s perspective, we’ve plans to add some dynamic CSS touches to allow people to chose their text and link colour and size, change the display resolution and other things of that nature. All of which will be remembered by a cookie, but other then that I don’t see much benefit in our trying to become a portal as there are already too many of them out there. About a year ago, I did toy with the idea of allowing people to create an RSS page of their favourite feeds on HTMLfixIt as we’ve already been using feeds to provide some information to you (like the virus warnings on the left side of the front page) and I’d already done most of the work to create such a service. However it was security concerns that convinced me not follow it though. If we allowed people to chose their own RSS feeds for display, and somebody discovered a flaw in our RSS reader code. They could quite easily create an RSS feed that exploited that flaw and then subscribe our RSS reader to it. The result could be a possible compromise of our servers and that is something I’m not prepared to risk. I also expect to find reports of such activity popping up in the news in the future as crackers explore these new services from the big three. Any time you allow people to include untrusted non local content to your site, you take the risk that it may not be what it seems and we’re not prepared to take that risk at this time. Of course as my understanding of RSS and Atom feeds becomes more complete, I may find ways to parse the feeds and clean out any potentially suss content before processing the feed, and If I do that I’ll no doubt make the “myHTMLfixIT” code available to any that want it.

In the mean time, if you want to have a play with Google personalisation, you can have a fiddle with it by heading over to

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