Hello Wave. Or it is Wave Hello?


There is plenty of buzz around Google Wave, but what is it all about? My friend gave me and invite and when I logged on he was the only other person I knew in the system, so we said hello to each other and that was it. I left quite under whelmed. This seems to be the most common experience to those new to Wave.

So what’s it all about?

I did a quick search and some people are clearly very excited and people are saying “it’s just IRC in a browser what’s the big deal”, while others say “why do we need another tool that does the same thing as an existing product, like gmail, groups, facebook etc”. I managed to get an invite to a London GTUG (Google Technology User Group) talk on Wave to find out a bit more.The venue was changed from the Google office to a hotel to accommodate the 200+ invitees.  After some pizza and beer and some chit chat, Stephanie Hannon and Lars Rasmussen introduced Wave and it features.

They showed us this vid by Epipheo Studios which is a great introduction:

Email isn’t broken when it is used between two people but I think we have all experienced confusion when many people are involved and would agree it could be better.

It could improve communication in a very wide range of situations. Certainly I think it could help here at Caplin as we often have emails flying around to large groups of people. I have lost count of how many email groups we have but most of them facilitate these group discussions. We use Yammer to broadcast messages that shouldn’t be sent via email, but this isn’t ideal.

The video says that all this is just 3% of what Wave could do. What’s the other 97%?

Robots
You can invite a robot to a wave. Robots scan the wave and react to the text they find.  One simple example of a bot is one that turns emoticon into an icon of a winking smiley e.g. ;) . Other robots could provide syntax highlighting to collaborating programmers or evaluate code written into a wave.  Developers are free to write their own robots. I was talking to a colleague talking about a simple robot that would scan for currency pairs and replace with current market rates.

  • Graphy – extends Google Wave with the ability to collaborate on flow charts and graphs. Useful for architecture discussions
  • Embedded Search Results – allows you to quickly and easily perform a search and have the results embedded in your Wave. Currently supports Google & Flickr Searches.
  • Wave Alpha – Query and retrieve Wolfram|Alpha

Gadgets
Are small applications you can be inserted into a wave to extend functionality. Built in examples are the map and poll gadgets which are very useful but this is the tip of the iceberg. Google also want developers to write gadgets which poeple have already started doing. I like collaborative sudoku although more fun than useful it shows the potential for web based realtime applications. So essentially its a real time web framework.

http://completewaveguide.com/guide/Wave_Gadgets#A_Few_Great_Gadgets

Wave and Caplin
I think that we will start using trying out Wave for internal communications once we have enough invites for everybody and Google have made Wave a bit more performant. There is obviously a lot of potential in Wave but I don’t think much of that will be realised until Google automatically gives everyone with a gmail account a Wave account. I am sure our dev days will yield some new gadgets and robots pretty soon. Watch this space.

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