Totally free personal websites: A remaining hurdle

I own the domain and use 1and1 as my host. The website is essentially nothing but pictures and I find it very hard to manage. I keep a copy of the website on my local computer. Whenever I add pictures, I have to create my own html files and link everything in. I wrote a little program to do this, but it is still a pita. So much so that I only update the site about once/year, and I have to devote a few days to it. Very bad setup.

So I have been looking at alternatives. Price isn’t critical, but free is better. The website management tools have to be something I can add to whenever I want. Which probably means the management tools need to be web-based as well.

Blogger has been great. And if I want more structure, I can use Google Sites. Plus Picasa to manage my photos. I need to do some research into slideshows, commenting images, etc, etc, but I think that will all work out.

The remaining problem … and it is currently a fatal one … is that none of these tools lets me add arbitrary files/folders to the website and treat them as url paths.

For example, if I add a file to google docs, that file is not accessible as a URL. There is a URL to the google doc “representation” of the file, but no URL to the file. If I follow the google doc URL in my browser, I see google docs, not the file.

For example, add a jpg file to google docs and follow its URL and you’ll see this:

And if I click on the image, the browser want to me to download it or open it. It cannot view the image “natively”, and it cannot use the URL to display the image in another html page.

And that means I cannot currently add HDView panoramas to my blog.

Blogger will not let me upload arbitrary files and then link to them in my blog post.

Google sites lets me upload arbitrary files, but they are “wrapped with a view” in the same fatal way as google docs.

Which I suppose leaves me looking at file hosting sites. And there are plenty of free ones, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. But actually none of them are as convenient as my existing 1and1 host. So for now, I will post the arbitrary files to 1and1 via ftp, then link to them with blogger.