Google Wave Developer Preview

3 minute read

Ahhh… finally, the Google Wave developer preview of Google’s HTML 5 re-imagining of online collaboration and communications at Google’s I/O conference.

The interesting idea of it as a Product, Platform (for the embedding of things in the web) and Protocols as well as the re-visioning of email if it had been invented today, kinda sorts well with actual usage. For example, in the demo, the use of email and then a sort of “in-email” IM session (we’re going to need new verbs and adjectives, I can tell) being used is pretty similar to what really happens in real life though you generally have to jump to a new app and those conversations end up being isolated form each other. So, at least that idea in Wave is sound.

Some of the tools are very cool, but I wonder about the overall scalability to large workgroups versus the small working groups shown in the demo. Of course, I’m thinking of the dysfunctional way my office works with its CC and Reply All culture, but is definitely something worth thinking about. I know we have a similar issue on Basecamp where projects end up becoming email lists when they scale above, say 20 people. Perhaps the future is small working groups though.

I do like the Playback feature idea (though shudder to think of how much trouble my own sense of humour may get me into in playback-able real-time) as well as the isolating of chats into backchannels by just certain individuals. The tree structure idea for a conversational structure is quite powerful. I am just trying (unsuccessfully) to think of places where that might not work so well though. Oh, and drag and drop for images ? Hell, yeah. One of my biggest beefs with GMail right now is that.

And yes, html 5 for this is quite cool (though the file drag and drop is a Gears feature though Google is asking to add it to the html5 standard). I’ll write more on html5 and rich browser experience in a future blog post as a rif of the O’Reilly’s post I linked to the other day.

The api stuff is amazing really and exactly how it should be : loosely coupled, simple and very powerful. The potential is absolutely stunning. The blog embedding and real-time interactive responding stuff from within the Wave client I can see being very, very popular. Right now, I usually get alerted from Wordpress, click through on a link, log in and then respond within the blog. This would be amazing.

Seriously, aggregating all that content all in one place (even if you need to do it only through google I imagine) is amazingly cool.

I do love the collaborative editing. Even with google docs, we’ve noticed one of the real issues there is that people love breaking out of the online model and mailing stuff around. Not so sure how this will work with non-wave users though. Change playbacks ought to be interesting (though I can just imagine how it’d work at Amnesty where edit wars are common in Word, let alone online where everything is visible).

I do wonder how scalable the shared object model will be, though it’s amazingly powerful.

It does look really, really promising though. So, um… where’s my account?

Interesting postscript : Just before posting, a dev colleague overseas of mine was saying how this was the facebook killer… though just thinking for facebook they’ll just provide a way to embed this stuff directly in their site.

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