Catch the Google Wave

Those smart folks at Google are about to unleash a new communication platform called the Wave in web developer preview mode. So what is Wave? Basically, it is part document and part hosted conversation. Wave is live. Wave is shared.

In Google Wave you create a Wave and add contacts to it. Everyone on your Wave can see anything you post, even feeds from other sources on the web. They can reply to your message or edit the wave directly. If they have Wave open concurrently with you, they will see on their screen what you are typing in your wave almost instantly. Therefore, Google Wave functions as an IM application, allowing your contacts to see what you type, character by character without your ever having to hit a “send” button. You can choose to turn off the real-time typing feature if you’d rather edit your messages before sending. There is even an automatic spell-checker. If you drop into a Wave in the middle of a discussion, there is a “playback” function to rewind the Wave and see it from the beginning. If you prefer to send a private message, there is a function for that. To insert attachments, such as pictures, simply drag them from your desktop into the Wave.

Google Wave is a platform with a rich set of open APIs (Embed and Extensions) that allow website developers to embed waves in other web services and build new extensions that work inside waves. With Embed, web developers can bring waves into their own sites through a simple JavaScript API. For example, embedding a wave in a webpage is a good way to promote dialogue among the participants. With Extensions, web developers can write programs (packaged as Robots or Gadgets) to provide new functionality inside the Google Wave web client.

The Google Wave protocol is the fundamental format for storing and the methods of sharing waves and includes the “live” parallel control, which allows messages to be sent instantly to other users and services. Google designed the protocol for open communication, so all Wave services can interface with each other and with the Google Wave service. Google Wave comes with a set of APIs to help web designers build applications and is open-sourced because Google wants website developers to help them complete the product. The Google Wave API will enable website developers to embed Wave documents in standard web pages as well as to embed the entire library of iGoogle widgets (if so desired) within a Wave itself. With the Wave extensions, website developers and programmers can develop Java, Python, ActionScript, and other applications to add new functionality to it.

Interestingly, Google Wave will not work on Internet Explorer unless users install Google Chrome Frame, a plug-in. It appears that Google would really prefer that users drop IE altogether but realize that that is not going to happen anytime soon. However, they do not plan on putting any more effort into making Wave work on IE, hence Chrome Frame. Could it be that Google Wave is a weapon in Google’s quest to knock IE out of the browser game eventually?

Web Design | Google Logo
Web Design | Google Logo

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