Google has unveiled a beta version of its new Google Web Designer, but unless it's going to change a lot before the launch, it should really be called Google Ad Designer. The main purpose appears to be to provide a way to produce Adobe Flash-style animated advertisements in HTML5/CSS3 without using Flash.
And as the website says: "Google Web Designer makes it simple to publish ads through any platform. Choose from DoubleClick Studio or AdMob, or go for the Generic option to push content through any other ad network. No coding required."
Google Web Designer is available as a free (as in beer) download for Windows PC and Mac OS X, so at this stage, it won't run on Linux, or Chromebooks.
Google Web Designer generates pages targeted at Google's browser, though it also supports Firefox and Internet Explorer. On Hacker News, a Google Web Developer called Nivesh explained: "While editing a file, Google Web Designer uses -webkit prefixes. However, when you publish your content, the publish dialog allows you to specify additional vendor prefixes (or no prefixes) in the output so the content works in different browsers."
Other Hacker News users reckon the code that GWD generates compares unfavorably to Microsoft FrontPage 2000.
While all this raises an obvious question (Why the heck would Google do this?), the answer appears to be somewhat mundane. As tumultco (of the rival Tumult Hype) observes: "This appears to be a fork of the Ninja Authoring Tool which was made by Motorola Mobility over a year ago as part of the Montage project. Now Google owns Motorola Mobility."
Whether there's much point remains to be seen. Professional ad designers already have similar and probably better tools, such as Adobe Edge Animate, Tumult Hype, Sensha Animator and Apple's iAd Producer. (All of these were suggested by Hacker News readers.) Perhaps this makes it more of an app for unprofessional ad designers.
What Google Web Designer really needs is something that identifies the resulting animated HTML5/CSS ads and thus makes them easy to block. At least with Flash, blocking was never a problem.