Tag Archives: Google Wave

Atlanta Google Wavers Meetup

Last night was my first to attend the Atlanta Wavers Meetup, held this month at Ignition Alley. The two presenters, Andy Thornton and Rick Thomas, both provided outstanding presentations on the basics of Wave gadget development.

The important take  aways for me were finally understanding key differences between gadgets and robots and gaining some insight into how they are developed.  Plus a cool new (and free) development IDE called Aptana Studio which is available stand alone or as an Eclipse Plugin. As a bonus Andy provided CDs filled with software and examples for all attendees.

So what’s the difference between a gadget and a robot? In a nutshell a gadget is a program inserted into a wave that can be used by all wave participants like voting or drawing.  While a robot is a program added to a wave to perform automated tasks like making the wave public.

Installation of gadgets and robots into a Wave is very different. Gadgets are installed by entering the URL of the gadget whereas robots are installed as contacts and then added to the wave just like you would add any other contact.

Gadget and robot development are also quite different. A gadget can be written in a variety of languages like python, php, or even c#, and are simply publicly hosted web applications. Most gadgets even those written for non-Wave containers can run in wave. The main difference between Wave aware gadgets and non-Wave gadgets is that a Wave aware gadget can interact with the wave. Wave gadgets aren’t typically complete applications but rather they tend to be small add-ons that add a piece of functionality to a wave. Making a gadget wave aware starts with a declariation in the gadget specification of <Require feature="wave" /> which serves to give the gadget access to the Wave Gadgets API.

Robots on the other hand are all created and hosted on Google App Engine, which at this time only supports Python and Java.

I’m glad to see that Atlanta has an Wave Development group. I plan to add this meetup to my calendar and attend often.

Is Google Wave Succeeding?

This is an excerpt from a Wave posted by John Blossom. (jblossom@googlewave.com).  I don’t think I can link to a wave from my blog so I had to copy/paste and give John credit. It’s a good review of Wave pros and cons that I wanted to make it available here (outside of Wave).

While Google Wave is only in a technical preview, it’s an aggressive program to expose its capabilities to a wide range of everyday people – and, in the process of doing so, building buzz to get people excited about its possibilities. This, in turn, is expected to drive the development of applications and gadgets that will enhance the value of its API and underlying protocols. As developers see an audience growing, more functions will be available through Wave APIs.

It’s easy to forget that what we see in Wave today in this preview is just that – an HTML 5 application that helps Google to exercise the underpinnings of the Wave protocol and API. For those of you viewing this wave on Apple platforms via Waveboard you already have a taste of how Wave apps, like apps used to extend the capabilities of platforms such as Twitter and WordPress, can accelerate the power of Wave to adapt to many uses.

Still, what most people will encounter as their “hello world” experience of Wave will be the standard Web browser-based application. What are some of the early pros and cons that Wave is showing from this general debut? Here are a few thoughts:

Pros

  • Rapid and effortless collaboration. While Wave as it exists today is not a replacement for every type of collaborative communication, it is truly amazing how effective it can be for 80 percent of what most people need out of a collaboration platform. Simple messages can turn into document repositories and in turn become knowledge repositories as people edit those document and add their comments. After years of trying to get other collaborative platforms to succeed, Wave’s instant ability to attract participation will be one of its strongest powers.
  • A unique blend of real-time messaging, applications and online documents. While it can be frustrating at times dealing with Wave’s flexiblity, the ability of Wave to support a number of styles of publishing and communications simultaneously in a single document is perhaps its greatest strength. In an instant you can embed an application into a wave to gather data or share multimedia, video and voice exchanges. A comment can become a chat instantly. Casual notes can be structured into more formal documents rapidly and collaboratively. Best of all, many of these can happen in ways that the originator of a wave may have never expected when it started. It’s the closest thing to what really happens in natural collaborative settings yet invented, in my view.
  • No reason ever to use email. Is there some reason why we’re forced to use a communication system in which 90 percent of the content is about drugs and physical relationships that we really don’t ever want to think about? Even when email works, the idea of sending a communication “to” someone is entirely different from the Wave concept of inviting someone “into” a communication. There will still be a place for “to”-style communications in a Wave-centric world, but Wave represents a better way to communicate, more like popping your head into someone’s office than sending a memo.
  • A second Read/Write Web. In its early phases it’s perhaps hard to think ahead to the full impact of what Wave offers the world, but in a sense I see Wave as a new communications environment not so different from the early World Wide Web. You can link to Web content in Wave, of course, but mostly people seem to wind up referring to content in Wave itself. Wave isn’t just email or messaging on steroids, it’s a new publishing environment that can have global, enterprise or cross-enterprise impact as easily as the Web itself. In this I think that Wave may have a substantially more powerful impact on the Web overall than Twitter or, probably, Facebook, which offer very specific types of content that cannot be expanded or referenced all that easily.

Cons

  • Poor “day one” orientation. Granted, the preview version of Wave is really not meant for your average novice, but even many social media veterans invited into wave take one look, say “Huh?” and are never heard from again. The basic videos that Google provides are useful enough, but in general the lack of pre-populated contacts for many people, no documentation supporting the public channel and the still-restricted invite system have limited participation to just a few enthusiasts for the most part.
  • Immature interface. Well, we have to be fair, what was email like forty years ago when it was invented? Google Wave’s preview app is years ahead of primitive email systems, but it still lacks a lot of basic usability and control options. This discourages people from using it productively. One of my ongoing complaints: why can’t I have a checkbox feature in the inbox that will allow me to apply an action like “archive” to multiple waves? Come on, Google, get us productive on this ASAP.
  • Poorly deployed public communications. The ability to publish and access content on a public channel on Wave is perhaps one of its most powerful features, enabling any conversation to turn into a global conversation very rapidly. But it’s also one of its most poorly implemented feature, kludgy at best to use and not tied into any sort of permissioning service. That’s good enough for a preview, but far from good enough for production versions of Wave applications. Hopefully the “Requests” channel becomes more useful as a way to filter public waves for consumption and participation.
  • Major privacy issues. To get things going Google has made it easy as pie to grab people’s Wave addresses to put in their Contacts list. How long will that stand the test of spammers looking to build up mailing lists, inviting everyone they can into their waves? Judging by some of the addresses and bots already on Wave, I think that the seeds of spamming are already sown. There needs to be a permission-based method for people to communicate with one another on Wave when they expose their participation in a channel outside of their trusted network.
  • Lackluster performance. While each day brings some modest improvements to the overall performance of Wave, in general any wave of any size tends to choke at some point or another, either in pulling it up, editing or archiving. Perhaps the new release of the Chrome browser is intended to mitigate some of those performance issues, but in the meantime if you click on a document to have it go out of your inbox, well, it should do that pretty lickety-split. All in time, but in the meantime first impressions abound of a poorly performing platform.

Overall, I do think that Wave is headed towards a major success, though. Its strategy is sound, aimed squarely in the gaps between other offerings such as the Web itself, enterprise services like SharePoint and CRM services and real-time messaging and social networking services. Google seeks out the “80 percent” solution oftentimes, leaving the other 20 percent needed to satisfy people to niche products or applications that can be driven by Google content and services. With that in mind, I do think that Wave will represent one of the most powerful 80 percent solutions available since browser-based Web access was introduced in the mid-1990s. In other words, it’s huge.

—- Wave posted by John Blossom

Google Wave is starting to click

The first time I opened Wave I had no contacts of course.  So I was immediately struck with the thought “What now?” I had a bunch of invites available so I started sending them out to co-workers and friends who requested one. But we were all unsure what to do.

Then I discovered public waves, which can be found by entering with:public in the Wave search window. After browsing a dozen public waves things finally started to click for me.  Waves are conversations. Conversations about things like projects, events, vacations, proposals, reviews, places, or whatever.

Today when you start a conversation you dial up somebody on their cell,  send them emails, post/comment on a blog, IM, post/reply to twitter, edit a wiki, etc.  With Wave all these different communication techniques are combined into a single experience….a threaded message exchange containing functional elements from email, wikis, blogs, and instant messaging  and can also include embedded documents, photos, video chats, and even conference calls.

So whenever you want to start a conversation, instead of emailing or dialing or posting, you start a wave. You then invite others to participate. Wave participants have the option to contribute to the conversation in either synchronous or asynchronous mode. They can see your message in real time if they are online, similar to IM/chat. Or they can view your message later when they login, much like traditional email and wikis.  With Wave all of the messaging from multiple participants is threaded and conveniently available for future reference (who said what when) and can even be archived.

So I’m finally starting to get it.

Much of our technology is about communication and convenience, and Wave seems to be a major improvement to both.

Over the weekend I started a wave for the organization I work for because I noticed other companies and government organizations are doing the same. If the trend in web presence and marketing is towards more dynamic and personal communication as with blogs, wiki’s, and micro-blogging, then it’s easy to see how Wave can be the next evolution of these technologies.

Here are some good Wave resources:

Mashable’s Wave Guide

Lifehacker’s Google Wave 101

Google Wave List of Extensions

A Clinical Infusion of Google Wave

Web Entrepreneurs – The Next Wave

The July meetup of Atl Web Entrepreneurs was quite an event with around 110 attendees stuffed into the Hodges room in the Centergy Building at Tech Square. With so many warm bodies the Hodges room heated up to uncomfortable levels…which is another story in itself. The subject of the meetup was How Google Wave Changes Everything (or not).” In spite of the large crowd I managed to snag a great seat in the back next to a wall plug for my power cord. I spent my time divided between listening to presentations and following #awe posts on twitter. We saw a short demo of Wave, several presentations, and heard lively discussion about what wave is and isn’t which I believe is yet to be determined. An unforgettable moment occurred half way through the meeting when @stephenfleming the new Vice Provost of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute showed up in shorts and t-shirt with fans from his garage to help cool down the room. Overall was a great meeting and I’m looking forward to the August meetup. July will be hard to beat.