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Google Wave Reviewed 365

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-the-skinny dept.
Michael_Curator writes "Developers are finally getting their hands on the developer preview of Google's Wave, which means we can finally get some first-hand accounts of what it's really like to use, unfiltered by Google's own programmers. Ben Rometsch, a developer with U.K. Web development firm Solid State, blogged that, it's 'probably the most advanced application in a browser that I've seen.' Wave is like giant Web page onto which users can drag and drop any kind of object, including instant messaging and IRC [Internet Relay Client] clients, e-mail, and wikis, as well as gadgets like maps and video. All conversations, work product and applications are stored on remote servers — presumably forever. 'It's like real time email. On crack,' he wrote. And unlike the typically minimalist Google UI, 'It feels a lot more like a desktop application that just so happens to live in your browser.'" User molex333 has already written a Slashdot app and shares his initial reactions here.
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Google Wave Reviewed

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  • Sounds like g.ho.st (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sanjosanjo (804469) <sanjosanjo.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @09:00PM (#28790215)
    I've dabbled with http://g.ho.st/ [g.ho.st] and it sounds similar. I've been impressed at how snappy g.ho.st is, so I would expect good things from Google, also.
  • Indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by caitsith01 (606117) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:36PM (#28790839) Journal

    I want guarantees that no-one and nothing at Google, Inc or anywhere else I don't expressly authorise has access to anything I drop into this magic box in my browser.

    Based on Google's track record, users should otherwise assume that anything and everything they let this system touch will be stored indefinitely even if deleted, indexed, and trawled for marketing and other purposes.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @10:39PM (#28790877) Homepage Journal
    The biggest deal here, which so far is quite understated, is that the protocol is open. It's based on XMPP (aka Jabber), including the server-to-server protocol. This means no one will be locked into a single site -- not even Google's, although I'm sure Google is counting on a lot of people using their site, and I'm sure they'll find other ways to leverage it to make some money as well. They're good at doing that -- and unintrusively, too.

    If this thing catches on, it's going to turn the whole Internet on its head -- in a good way. It's the end of being locked in to walled gardens like Exchange and Facebook -- although either of those products would be able to tie into the global Wave federation if they wanted to.

    I'm looking forward to seeing lots of different software and sites that speak Wave protocol. For that matter, I'm looking forward to writing one someday.
  • Re:Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rossifer (581396) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:21PM (#28791151) Journal

    What you're not seeing is Google's strategic intent (I work for Google, but this stuff is public).

    Google's goal is to commodify (reduce the marginal profit to zero) of everything that they don't make money on. The hardware is pretty much commodified already. Plenty of competitors and the profit margins are razor thin. Next levels are the OS and the applications. These are not yet commodified due to Microsoft's aggressively maintained monopoly. Contrary to common knowledge, Microsoft's real monopoly is in the Office file formats. From that, they've levered a monopoly into basic individual productivity applications and then (with Apple's cooperation) the operating system. They are also a serious player in second-generation collaboration tools (extensions to basic email).

    In order to reduce Microsoft's war chest and eliminate their competitiveness, Google seeks to lower the profit margin on everything Microsoft currently produces at a profit (Windows and Office). So they produce a cheaper operating system, cheaper productivity applications, and cheaper collaboration tools (ideally free to the typical user). Google doesn't need to make money (though breaking even would be nice), Google just needs to apply pressure to Microsoft to cut their revenues/profits and the strategic goals are being met.

    Writing apps that run on Windows? Doesn't help Google very much (though SketchUp and Picasa and a few other things are native apps).
    Writing protocols that run on any machine? Helps Google a lot.
    Writing web applications that use those protocols and run on any machine? Helps Google a lot.

    Look at the bigger picture. Google is acting extremely rationally here.

    As for whether Wave is innovative or not, I don't think you've tried it and are speaking without informing yourself. Wave is to email as email is to snail mail (single addressee, no broadcast, etc.). Wave tackles the problem of a widely CC:'d email with an attached Word or Excel document (two threads of changes: one in the email thread, one in the document) (multiple obsolete copies of the document available) (possible confusion and delay as people are added to the thread and have to re-read the history duplicated in most of the recent emails). Wave creates a "place" for this discussion/collaborative authoring to happen and then let's everyone bring whatever they want to help out. Wave is not email++ (which is what Outlook and Gmail are).

  • Re:Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sillycibin (1546695) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:31PM (#28791221)
    Do you not get the point that by running in a browser, it essentially runs anywhere? Linux, Mac, Windows, future smartphones and MIDS. Further, by running in the browser, the application will always be the most current version. You won't have people running outlook version x, y, and z. Social communication or whatever you want to call it is a huge area of growth and a direction the internets is going. Would you rather have Google or Facebook the steward? Google very much tries to be open and "not evil." I honestly don't get the Google bashing.
  • Re:Great! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VGPowerlord (621254) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @11:39PM (#28791273) Homepage

    Write some C for christ sake, or hell, even a Java SE app.

    How is that going to get them more eyeballs to sell to their advertisers?

    The corollary to that is what exactly does it offer to users?

    I have this great application that allows me to drag and drop things ("applications") where I want them on the screen. It's called "Windows" and if you don't like it, there's several similar applications called "OSX," "GNOME," and "KDE" that do the same thing.

    Right now, my chain goes:
    Operating System -> Windowing System -> Application
    or
    Operating System -> Windowing System -> Virtual Machine -> Application
    Google Wave is several abstractions farther down the chain:
    Operating System -> Windowing System -> Browser -> Virtual Machine -> Google Wave -> Application

    Each step along the chain takes a performance hit.

  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @01:28AM (#28791877) Homepage

    The documentation is good, so it is easy to get started. I view Wave as "something for the future" but I think that it is worth 3 or 4 hours a week coding to it. It was a thrill when my robot replied to a wave that I had invited it to join (like a human). For writing robots, I look forward to a local runtime and debugging setup. Overall, I think that Wave looks promising and I am mentally re-evaluating several web application projects that I have done in the last ten years, thinking of how I might re-implement them on Wave.

  • Re:Mod me paranoid (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23, 2009 @01:37AM (#28791945)

    So... how do you feel about Microsoft, because all of those capabilities you just wrote about were being produced up in Redmond at least five years ago...

  • by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @02:03AM (#28792097)

    Does the expression "on crack" mean, "better"? And if so, why?

    The "on crack" comment is so vague, it says a lot more about the reviewer than the technology being reviewed.

    That being said, since I also participated in two Google events in which we were using the Google Wave technology, I'm going to give you my own personal review (which may be as bad as the initial review, it's mostly a disorganized brain dump at this point, so bear with me as well). I did agree to an NDA during those google events, these last couple of times you actually can't get in if you don't agree to one, but I don't think Google is the type to enforce it on me, especially since my review is mostly positive overall (even if it includes a few barbs).

    First off, here is my description of Google Wave, it's a cross between a Wiki and an Instant Messenger (with some added capabilities that may not seem initially obvious to everyone, but that will seem completely obvious to power users of the wiki technology and power users of the instant messengers technology). And each Wave itself is the equivalent of a wiki page (if that makes any sense).

    Now here is my first impression of Google Wave, which differs significantly from my overall final impression of it. Google Wave is buggy (even in Windows Chrome and Firefox, and even in Windows Safari which does support HTML 5 and which is supposedly faster, and I was advised not to use IE with it -- so I assume that this part is even more buggier still). The initial inbox interface looks rather busy and clunky (especially from a Company like Google, I just didn't expect an interface like that). Searching for your friends (who already have wave sandbox accounts) and adding them to your address book works only 90% of the time (although, that part does work 100% of the time if you go to your gmail address book that comes with your new wave sandbox account, you just have to know to use that workaround -- otherwise you just get frustrated by it especially since the interface doesn't give you back useful informative feedback that something went wrong). Also, the inbox doesn't always refresh (even on a blazing fast guest connection inside the googleplex campus). And initially, I was quite baffled by the wave inbox interface. I had created ten empty waves by mistake, that I didn't know how to delete (now, I know how thought, at least I think I would know how to delete them, I haven't tried it yet).

    Where Google Wave shines however is in its actual use (even in its buggy alpha state, it's actually quite useful, I would totally use it if I could get my colleagues accounts), and it's in the actual wave itself (not the surrounding interface). I don't know how many we were, may be 150 or 200? May be 70% of us had laptops in front of us. May be 30 or 40% of us had the actual wave opened, others were doing something else on their laptops or had them semi-closed. And may be only 4 or 5 were taking actual notes (one or two were doing the bulk of the notes). The notes were excellent. Everything that was being said was transcribed live, "livewaving" that's what the google employees called it (just like for Twitter, the Google employees had many cutesy-cheesy names for everything wave was doing), and the notes/statements/questions said out lout during the presentations were clarified, corrected, rephrased, and formatted by two or three people (just a couple of lines above where they had been captured). There was no coordination whatsoever, people just added things wherever they felt they could contribute. Also, the initial attempt at coordination by the Google organizers was foiled, because they were too slow to create the group and start an official wave on their own, the participants already had a wave underway by the time they started -- so that became the official one by default.

    At the same time the notes were being taken, there were a few more participants who started a couple of threads (within the wave itself, just at the bottom -- a couple of scroll

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @02:05AM (#28792111) Journal
    There is this common misconception that javascript is slow. Yeah right. LOOK at the chrome demonstrations. The sad fact is that Javascript suffers from a couple of faults that are hard to rememdy (but google might be force changes).

    It is hard to upgrade. Since every browser has to implement, you have to rely on every browsers implementation of it. If say Chome introduced javascript++ it would only run in Chrome. That is the reason googles api has a TON of IE specific fixes. So that dcvelopers can code for a good browser and have their library convert it for MS software.

    It is hard to extend. More classical languages rely on a ton of libraries, for javascript these libraries have to be supplied with the program, this means extra data to be send along. The various javascript libraries use all kinds of tricks to keep themselves small and even be shared but still, this development is fairly recent and for years it means that every kb of javascript code had to be downloaded over dialup.

    The DOM is a beast and while manipulating it can be done efficiently for years IE was the lead browser and boths its javascript engine and DOM model were completly horrible.

    Your ideas of javascript are the same as those that let java to be rejected. In tbe beginning we had ton of HUGE java applets that gobbled up MB's of memory for their virtual machine all to display some animated horizontal break. Or a mirror effect beneath images. Fantastic! But back in the day computers had barely enough memory for the browser let alone some virtual machine coded by someone working from a book.

    Javascript done right with a modern browser (anything not from MS) is en entirely different beast. LEARN to use it properly (it is NOT a classical language like C or Java but far more advanced) and it flies.

    No, it will never be as fast as an optimized native C program but that is like saying bash scripts ain't as fast or powerful as a full language. Doesn't stop them from having their own very useful role.

    Javascript is the language for working in a browser. All others, JAVA, Flash, SilverLight have tried to replace it but have failed to really replace it.

    Really, use some javascript not written by some guy who knows a classical language and thinks he can do javascript without learning it.

  • Re:Great! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rossifer (581396) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @02:14AM (#28792163) Journal

    Commodify everything the customer needs to use your product. This is taught in business school 101. That Google is pursuing such a strategy is not newsworthy. It would be newsworthy if a company stacked with this much brainpower wasn't aware of such a strategy and making sure that their competition was on it's toes. Microsoft, for their part, argues quite correctly that Windows and Office have many more features than the oversimplified little trinkets that Google is putting out. We'll just have to wait and see what the market really wants (which is the whole point).

    Is Google using our current dominance of search to distort other markets? I don't think so. Linux was already free and being used by netbook makers, and nobody will be coerced into using Chrome OS. Firefox and Safari and Opera are all free so Chrome is just another free browser. Even search is a pretty precarious monopoly. Someone comes out with a better search (and Microsoft is trying very, very hard: look how fast Bing changed from sucky to pretty interesting) and the masses will shift just as quickly as everyone abandoned altavista back in the day.

    Ultimately, the question of whether Google is levering an arguable search monopoly into other markets is a question for lawyers to answer. I certainly don't see it. Google really is trying to make a profit in Apps and Gmail and will move in that direction for Chrome and Chrome OS as they mature.

  • My original article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cca93014 (466820) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @05:08AM (#28793021) Homepage
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @08:22AM (#28793855) Journal
    You are taking out MS and I think that you will succeed. MS has done more to destroy real innovation, so I will not be sorry to see them taken out to the point where they can not continue to do this. THOUGH, I do wonder how you will control their hardware. They marginalized game boxes via Xbox. That is a growing one for them. Is google going to use the new OS to compete head on against that? (and may the force be strong with Google for taking out such an evil company :) ).

    My real question is, what about China and all the companies it spawns? The chinese gov. does everything it can to learn about companies (mostly American, but any western one works) inner workings, then they build barriers to them. THey have backed Baidu to compete against all western search engines, but mostly you guys. I saw that wonderful article in which they insisted that you folks had to remove "Im feeling Lucky" button shortly after Baidu decided to steal the idea (claims of too much porno, and yet, Baidu had more). China, with its illegal and immoral backing of MULTIPLE companies, is long term a MUCH MUCH bigger threat to Google. How is Google going to take that on? The ONLY way that I can see, is if Google aqcuires new world-wide patents, but they do not appear to be doing that. Or does Google not have this in their sight?
  • Re:Great! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by claar (126368) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:28AM (#28795073)

    Wow, that's weird -- I just got my developer account today and have been playing with the interface. As I was reading your post, I saw something I wanted to comment on, and I instinctively tried to write my comment inside of yours as I might in Google Wave. Spooky.

  • Re:Great! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kamatsu (969795) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:44AM (#28795247)

    Your problem isn't Google Apps, it's Firefox. Try running it in Chromium or Safari and see how much ram it uses.. for me, 30 mb.

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