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Google Wave Backstage 132

Posted by kdawson
from the movie-by-peter-weir dept.
As Google Wave is about to be released to 100,000 beta testers tomorrow, reader snitch writes in with a link to an in-depth interview with Dhanji Prasanna, whose title is Core Engineer. It covers some of the technologies, tools, and best practices used in building Wave. "InfoQ: Would you like to give us a short technical outline of what happens to a message (blip) from the moment a user types it in the web client, until becomes available to every one else that is participating in that wave — humans or robots? ... Dhanji: Sure, a message written in the client is transformed into a series of operations that are sent to the server in real time. After authenticating and finding the appropriate user session, the ops are routed to the hosted conversation. Here these ops are transformed and applied against other incoming op streams from other users. The hosted conversation then broadcasts the valid set of changes back to other users, and to any listening robots. This includes special robots like the ones that handle spell checking, and one that handles livesearch (seen in the center search-panel), as well as explicit robotic participants that people have developed. Robotic participants write their changes in response to a user's and these are similarly converted into ops, applied and re-broadcast."
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Google Wave Backstage

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  • Let the never-ending beta begin!

    • by gilgongo (57446)

      I think we should take bets now. I've got five bucks that says the "beta" tag will be removed not before 5 years from today.

      • by drodal (1285636)
        <quote><p>I think we should take bets now. I've got five bucks that says the "beta" tag will be removed not before 5 years from today.</p></quote>

        Probably true, and it will probably become a used and useful to millions in 2 years!
  • by martas (1439879)
    ... is making waves.

    I'll let myself out.
  • by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:20PM (#29584997) Journal
    I have to say that I am excited about the prospects of a chat/im/document/wiki/social network collaboration system all rolled into one, but I am very skeptical if they will be able to pull it off the way they have been touting it.

    For starters, most people are very well ingrained into their way of using the particular applications that accomplish the things Wave does (all independent of each other), so I think a massive component to the success of Wave will be how good the integration tools will be. Will we be able to import contacts from Exchange straight into Wave? Will we be able to use waves in email services other than wave? IE: Could a wave user interact with a wave with someone who is using MS Exchange the same way as they interact with someone who is using Wave also?

    That said, I think Wave could seriously revolutionize the standard of email communication, and I really hope for all our sake they are able to pull it off.
    • by edmicman (830206) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:38PM (#29585211) Homepage Journal
      If anything, I see this being the closest thing to actually *subvert* Exchange usage in a corporate setting. Granted, all I know is what I've read and seen in the video, but the concept strikes a chord with me. For example:

      At work, we use Exchange, and I suffer from information overload. We aren't taking advantage of the calendaring features really, other than to schedule reminders of when we have meetings. The VAST majority of my work processes involve email exchanges between multiple people, emailing copy of spreadsheets and screenshots to all of them, who in turn respond to everyone else with their own docs, etc. I may be working on any number of tasks or projects at a time, and each of those has their own threads, sets of documents, IM exchanges, everything. I try to organize them via folders, categories, posting docs to a share and telling everyone to go there to view them, but it's a mess. Granted, a lot of the problem may be lack of organization all around, but this seems to be the case no matter where I've been. We could try and copy everything to a wiki, or try and force Sharepoint to work for us, but it just doesn't work, at least right now.

      From what I understand of Wave, instead we could have a dedicated wave to each task or project. Everybody communicates via that (replacing IM and email), posts documents there (essentially replacing file shares, emailing multiple copies back and forth to everyone...and didn't I see there was some sort of version control built-in?), and everything from start to finish is contained there. It sounds like a wiki, kind of, but in real time and organizing everything communication related that you'd normally use other apps for and have that data stuck elsewhere.

      Sure, Exchange interaction should be there. But why keep using Exchange if Wave can manage your data and workflow for you? Maybe I'm off, maybe that's not how it works, and maybe I'll be disappointed. But it sounds really cool at this point :-)
      • You've got it right. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by copponex (13876) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:53PM (#29585395) Homepage

        It's a real time protocol with built in journaling, that is both free and open. Think of it as HTML written after the knowledge that connections will be mostly persistent and fast. Waves are going to replace damn near everything displayed live on web pages. It's basically an open and extensible combination of wikis, sharepoints, calendaring, and web forums.

        Google OS + Waves + commodity hardware. If anything, at least the next version of windows will be much less expensive.

        • Exactly. The thing that always trips me out is that this is a *protocol*, which means (should mean) it's open, extensible, and the software in the Google demo is just the beginning of applications we'll be seeing with wave tech. When folks begin adding their own custom software to "ride on top of the wave" (I guess that's the correct terminology), we'll see the true power of this tech.

          The applications for wave haven't even begun.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by D Ninja (825055)

          Google OS + Waves + commodity hardware. If anything, at least the next version of windows will be much less expensive.

          So, basically, you're saying we can (wait for it)...wave...goodbye to high Windows prices?

          Alright, alright. I'm letting myself out...

      • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:53PM (#29585399) Homepage Journal

        If anything, I see this being the closest thing to actually *subvert* Exchange usage in a corporate setting.

        Screw that, I see this being something that could subvert Facebook. There's really very little difference between groupware and social media anyway -- it's just how it's optimized and featureized. So let's move back to a world where everyone is working -- or playing -- on the site or server of their choice, yet everyone is still connected together, instead of forcing everyone to join one single site.

        • by fabs64 (657132)

          Ha. I was just thinking the other day how if you turn email into waves, facebook offers little more than an old-style mailing list.

      • But a tool like this is only going to be as good as the people who use it.

        I understand your pain at work since I have the same email problem as you. People use email as a substitute for a meeting and try to come to a consensus all while constantly asking everyone else for input. So you end up with an email chain 50 replies long with more questions than you started with and somehow you have to decipher what people meant when they said, "yeah, let's do that."

        Our signal to noise ratio probably won't be any bet

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hjmiii (720139)
        I agree, though if MS were smart they could look in their own backyard and subvert the subversion. I think OneNote [microsoft.com] would be one of the best Wave clients out there.
      • "From what I understand of Wave, instead we could have a dedicated wave to each task or project. Everybody communicates via that (replacing IM and email), posts documents there (essentially replacing file shares, emailing multiple copies back and forth to everyone...and didn't I see there was some sort of version control built-in?), and everything from start to finish is contained there. It sounds like a wiki, kind of, but in real time and organizing everything communication related that you'd normally use

        • by esper (11644)

          Based on what I have read of Wave thus far, I am highly confident that it will support the sort of non-text collaboration you've described (there are already drop-in chessboards and the like for "collaboration" in the form of games). I would actually be mildly surprised if third-party devs haven't already started prototypes of Wave-based painting, spreadsheet, and musical composition apps.

    • by takowl (905807)

      IE: Could a wave user interact with a wave with someone who is using MS Exchange the same way as they interact with someone who is using Wave also?

      I don't think so. But this is as much a conceptual matter as a technical one. Wave is based around the idea of a 'shared conversation', a common document on a server which several people can update. I'm not familiar with Exchange, and I know that it does have some collaboration features as well, but I believe that for communication, it is essentially an e-mail platform. E-mail is based on the concept of messages, sent to a number of people or services, which are fixed once you hit send.

      It should be possi

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

        I presume that you can make a wave message unmodifiable (I have a number of tasks that kinda require that) - from the looks of it you *can* use wave like threaded email, just faster.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I doubt that they will initially, wave certainly wasn't designed to be protocol compatible with any of that; but it is (conceptually) simple enough to see how it would all fit together.

      If you are using jabber, you can't talk to AIM users, because AIM doesn't speak XMPP. However, there are "gateway" mechanisms that speak XMPP on one side, and talk to AIM on the other, that allow you to, transparently(to you), communicate with AIM users from a jabber client.

      In the same fashion, the existing services won
    • I think a massive component to the success of Wave will be how good the integration tools will be. Will we be able to import contacts from Exchange straight into Wave?

      Of course not. How can you interact the same way you did with a Wave user when someone is using Exchange which does not support the vast majority of those features? Wave isn't e-mail it is a replacement for e-mail. It might be able to interact with existing e-mail systems in a limited way but it's not going to magically upgrade Exchange.

      Will we be able to use waves in email services other than wave?

      Can you use Yahoo chats in email services other than Yahoo chat?

      That said, I think Wave could seriously revolutionize the standard of email communication, and I really hope for all our sake they are able to pull it off.

      I think Wave has real potential to replace e-mail and chat and standard blogs. I have a lot of hope for it, b

    • @rehtonAesoohC: "I have to say that I am excited about the prospects of a chat/im/document/wiki/social network collaboration system all rolled into one..."

      I'm not. As I type this (14:45:00pdt 92-9-09) my home page, which has been igoogle since igoogle's inception, looks broken. It appears as though the themes server is down. WTG google.

      • by edmicman (830206)
        Lucky for you, as I understand it, is that you could roll your own and host your own wave server...which would also be able to interact with other wave servers, a la email servers today. Just like how the world's email doesn't stop working when gmail hiccups (although reading the headlines it would seem that way).
        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

          Eventually, yes. I imagine that there will be an apt-gettable wave server within a few months.

          Theoretically it has the potential to replace email, facebook, irc and twitter all in one - but it may end up just carving its own niche... one thing I see as a potential downer is the requirement to host it in a browser.. you lose things like new message notification, which is a biggie.

          • by edmicman (830206)
            I guess I hadn't looked into it much further, but I thought since it was a protocol spec, too, that you could have a desktop client implementation, too? I thought when I was looking through the sample code docs that it even came with a CLI interface for testing.
          • by afidel (530433)
            one thing I see as a potential downer is the requirement to host it in a browser.. you lose things like new message notification, which is a biggie.

            I take it you aren't familiar with the concept of XMLHTTPRequest aka AJAX? The gchat html client works just fine for notification.
          • one thing I see as a potential downer is the requirement to host it in a browser.. you lose things like new message notification, which is a biggie.

            That's only Google's implementation - there's no requirement to host it in a browser. If you watched the original video all the way through, they demonstrate a command line interface that integrates just as well.

    • by slim (1652)

      Will we be able to import contacts from Exchange straight into Wave? Will we be able to use waves in email services other than wave? IE: Could a wave user interact with a wave with someone who is using MS Exchange the same way as they interact with someone who is using Wave also?

      At a guess, I think that non-Wave email users will be able to participate in Wave discussions in a limited manner. Limited enough that if you were that user, you'd soon be tempted to move over to the "first class" experience.

      That's a hell of a way to build a user base.

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        At a guess, I think that non-Wave email users will be able to participate in Wave discussions in a limited manner. Limited enough that if you were that user, you'd soon be tempted to move over to the "first class" experience.

        Actually, a properly written Wave server can allow non-Wave email users to fully participate in Wave discussions in a nearly unlimited manner. The difference is, your interface is still the same old email interface while Wave has some very clear and powerful collaborate advantages. If y

    • I think for the most part, asking if Wave can integrate with Exchange is like asking if you'll be able to send an email to Google Docs. I mean, I guess you could, but what would be the point?

      If you sent someone on Exchange a Wave, what would you expect them to be able to do with it?

      I'm guessing you'll be able to send most Waves as emails, but all the interactivity will be gone. Like having a printed copy of a document.

      I feel that Wave has the potential to replace email/IM/collaboration, and possibly more (c

    • by Genda (560240)

      Personally, I'm waiting until Google to releases a chat/im/document/wiki/social network/mouthwash/photo album/birth control/banana peeling/data storage/corkscrew/nail-file/feminine hygiene spray application. I'll marry it, settle down, and never leave my home office again...

    • The major obstacle to wave, google docs, etc for usurping MS is who controls the data... at least from a large corporate company's perspective. If I'm a Fortune 500 company I don't want to be at the mercy of Google's servers and my ISP, let alone trust them with me data and IP... even if it can save me money by firing my IT staff, I gladly pay a fortune keeping them around to insure my IP stays mine, on my servers, under my control. If google can port docs and wave and other tools to apps/servers that can
      • by esper (11644)

        Although this doesn't apply to Google Docs, it's been pretty heavily publicized from day 1 that Wave is an open protocol, running on open software, so companies will be able to build and host their own private Wave servers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I may be wrong, but this sounds "amazingly" like any chat room I've ever been in.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But it's also like a wiki. And a forum. And email. And a blog. All at the same time, in real time, in your browser.
      • If it's in a web browser, there's no way it'll be real-time. Sure, it'll appear that way, but wait until network latency goes up.

        • by gnick (1211984)

          Nothing is real time. Not even real life in most cases. Some things are just closer to real-time than others. Sure the term is overused, but it's really just a description for how things are behaving behind the scenes - E.g. Is it a requested refresh or a push? Is the lag significant enough that the user/target will notice or be meaningfully affected?

          • by GooberToo (74388)

            Not even real life in most cases.

            Not even in real life in ALL cases. Remember, its takes time for light to travel and you see the entire world as its reflection...and then it still has to be processed by your brain - regardless of which sense is in use.

            People completely misunderstand what real time means. In this case, real time is the more loosely accepted definition, meaning updates are immediately pushed to all clients; whereby clients may actually be other servers. In other words, as user 1 updates a wa

      • by Beetle B. (516615)

        All at the same time, in real time, in your browser.

        And there's no constraint that it has to be browser based. It's open, and Google encourages others to set up their own servers, and/or clients.

        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

          Sure it doesn't have to be browser based but it has to be hosted by something that speaks HTML well enough to understand the contents of the messages (which are far from just being text).. so for the time being that means browser.

          • by Beetle B. (516615)

            Sure it doesn't have to be browser based but it has to be hosted by something that speaks HTML well enough to understand the contents of the messages (which are far from just being text).. so for the time being that means browser.

            And most email clients - including text only ones.

            Stuff like Javascript being key to a wave may prove a more browser dependent issue. HTML - not quite.

    • Have you tried Wave? Its nothing like a chat room, mainly because it has threads and an editable history. Think 10 people editing a google docs document specifically designed for communication between participants.

      Its far closer to a wiki than a chat room. Imagine a wikipedia discussion page (click 'discussion' at the top of any article for an example) in real time.
      • by mblase (200735)

        I was trying to figure out exactly how the collaboration is supposed to work, or rather how it's intended to be used. Web video isn't so great on my old machine.

        Is a Wave document meant to be written collaboratively, or just re-written? Can an author use it to solicit feedback and corrections without implementing them until they're individually approved? Are the documents just formatted text, or multimedia?

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          I was trying to figure out exactly how the collaboration is supposed to work, or rather how it's intended to be used.

          They really don't define that and the protocol supports pretty much any model I could conceive. Once such model they show is, rather than approval, each user simply updates the wave. They can collaborate via the wave about the wave, concurrently. Or, as you suggested, you can have the old approval process. The later may be used if everyone is not available. But should everyone be available t

      • by nmb3000 (741169)

        Imagine a wikipedia discussion page (click 'discussion' at the top of any article for an example) in real time.

        To be honest, the thought makes me cringe. It seems like it would be impossible to maintain any kind of threaded conversation with that kind of chaos.

        The nice thing about email and instant messaging (IM or IRC style) is that it is stateful. At any one point you have a conversation state that can be referenced and responded to. With the kind of multi-user editing and discussing this seems to sugges

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          To be honest, the thought makes me cringe. It seems like it would be impossible to maintain any kind of threaded conversation with that kind of chaos.

          Which is also why its supports threads, which can optionally, be compressed to its non-journalized representation at any branch/leaf in the wave's tree of branches and leafs.

  • ...you insensitive clods.

  • nah, none of these things

    google wave is going to be the backbone of a thousand homebrew MMORPGs, probably nethack interface style at first, but i don't see why eventually it couldn't look like WoW

    heh, thanks google, for giving us our own battle.net to play with in the style of an easy programming interface

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been looking forward to google wave for some time, especially considering the new client/server bssed cloud paradigm that this entails. The fact that we can now communicate on a global basis while still maintaining the orthodox model of local fat client computing aligned with mobile services gets me hard. When you align this with a local, services-based vertical operation you can really understand how this can compete with global iterations of matrix-based local operators. In fact, as i write this,

  • by Tei (520358) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:54PM (#29585405) Journal

    It seems the Killer App of Google IO and Google Gears is Wave, but Wave lacks a killer app. Withouth that, It will not be popular.

    Wave may need a killer app that needs a 90% of the features that provide, or only a 10%. Also, a killer app will cement some ideas about what Wave is. Another problem with Wave, is that is nothing just now, is nothing and everything, but need to be something, and that nameless something is yet to be invented. I suppose Google want exactly that, some guy inventing a killer app for Wave, or even some usefull toys. But I don't think have it yet. Is everyone listening? Google has created Gears, and Gear can add "offline" features to any webpage. Google IO can add streaming features to any app and more. We need to listen to Google more, because is releasing some technologies and ideas that are worth our time. The XMLHttpRequest was behind our radar a few years, before people realized his raw power. I suspect theres some untapped power on some of the latest tools released by Google, and is not Wave, is what move Wave.

    Of course, I can be wrong. Who I am? another random guy on the internet :-/

    • by Joe Random (777564) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @05:10PM (#29585577)

      Wave lacks a killer app.

      Wave is the killer app (the reference implementation, I mean). It is, at its core, a replacement for email, IM, and wikis. In fact, that diversity may be its biggest stumbling block. As your comment shows, people will want Wave to be "something". People understand email. People understand IM. People understand collaborative editing. But what do you call something that rolls all of those together? How do you create a niche for something that encompasses functionality from what are currently considered separate niches? It's like trying to explain to someone 50 years ago about how wonderful smart phones are. "What do you mean, text messages? If I want to send a letter I'll go to the post office. Calendar? I already have one on my desk!"

      I think that this massive level of generic utility is going to slow adoption somewhat, and adoption past some threshold is exactly what Wave needs to break into mainstream usage.

      • by watergeus (877271)

        I agree, Wave has everything to become a killer app.
        Now let us see how people are going to use it.

        The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

      • by dscruggs (858714)
        Half the reason e-mail caught on is that it contains the word "mail." "Wave" means nothing to me. Even Lotus Notes used a name that kinda sorta hinted at what it could do, then someone coined the term groupware.
    • Do you think you could talk a little about killer app?
    • Wave will be the killer app by itself if (and only if) there will be free and open source versions of the Wave frontend and server they use to present you their own Wave system. In that case you and your company can each have their own server, data silo and therefore enforcable data security without the *need* to be a silo - just drag in an external user to share and the federation magic will open up the silo for just this wave or wavelet (that is, a sub-wave).

      Not being able to decide what data stays with m

      • Writing your own POP3-client is reasonably possible - replicating the Wave software as is in beta now requires a complete Google-team to do. Read as: It's not easy at all. And anything less usable than the Google Wave frontend will be ditched by all people but techies.

        Sounds like those techies that to decide to learn something new have an opportunity to make some serious cash as 'Wave Implementation Consultants' I for one welcome our new WIC Overlords. Selling this to Academia will a cinch, they are always looking for viable collaboration technology and the fact that they can set up their own server and not have to trust google with their data is the cherry on top of the whipped cream.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @05:26PM (#29585735)

    Every time I look at Wave and its threaded conversations I think of Word documents when you track changes. (shudder) I think the most popular option on Wave will be a "ignore everyone's inane comments and just let me look at the original content" option.

  • The feature I look forward to most is how easy it is to have multiple people in one conversation.

    I have to deal with people pretty often, who are older and somewhere between "complete technophobe" and "AOL mom". I usually end up in a two hour long conference call that could have been done faster, clearer, and unscheduled via email. If only they could grasp the concept of not top replying that the Open Source and newsgroup community has used so well. A forum is too heavyweight and met with just as much re

  • by rbanzai (596355) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @05:53PM (#29585939)

    Every time I try to take a closer look at Wave it just looks like a horribly cluttered mess. It's like they said "Why use ten different programs when we can replace them with one? How? By stuffing the data from ten different programs onto one screen! GENIUS!"

    Are there any videos of this product that don't look like digital throwup? There has to be more to it than what I've been seeing, because what I've been seeing looks absolutely unusable.

    • That's probably how Outlook looks to a lot of people when they first see it. For Wave, a user list on the left, in the center, a list of Wave "conversations", and on the right, the actual content. Does that seem to overwhelm you? That's pretty much the standard format for any website or application (three frames). The bulkiness of what I've seen seems to be Facebook-y design elements like the user icons. In addition screen resolution on screenshots and demos seem to be around 1024x768. If there is a way to
      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Not to mention, Google made it very clear it will be easy to create fully compatible clients sporting whatever UI design and/or layout you wish. In fact, they are counting on it. The current interface is simply Google's first whack at it. Expect both additional iterations from Google and a polithera of third party options. Of the potential Wave issues, somehow I seriously doubt clients and/or user interfaces will the be obstacle to overcome in anyway, once Wave grabs any serious traction.

    • by Zerth (26112)

      Instead of your coworkers top-posting responses with the same subject line but different threads of conversation, email could look as clean as a message board.

      That's all I want.

      If you watch the original video, it shows a pine-lookalike client. Simple and organized, unlike any involved email conversation with multiple particpants.

      • by mcvos (645701)

        Instead of your coworkers top-posting responses with the same subject line but different threads of conversation, email could look as clean as a message board.

        That's all I want.

        Exactly! I get more and more annoyed by email due to the way co-workers use it. If Wave offers a cleaner form of communication, I'm in!

        • by Zerth (26112)

          For that matter, you can go back and fix their misusage of apostrophes and slang that they clearly don't understand.

          Well, more likely you'd have a robot do it.

  • PyGoWave (Score:3, Informative)

    by simon13 (121780) <slashdot.simoneast@net> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @06:51PM (#29586479) Homepage

    If you're itching to try out Google Wave like I am, a bunch of developers have already launched their own wave server implementation. A combination of Python + Django Framework + Javascript. You can create an account and have a play around, or you can download and run your own. Note that its still in early alpha state.

    http://pygowave.net/ [pygowave.net]

    • by Nasarius (593729)
      It's buggy as all heck, but it seems like a really decent start. Plus Django is a huge draw. If I don't get a Wave invite tomorrow, I think I'll pitch in. Thanks for the link!
    • by D Ninja (825055)

      I am assuming this is built on Google's Wave technology? Or is this entirely your own implementation?

    • by mcvos (645701)

      Cool! Thanks! Haven't gotten an invite yet, so this is a great way to play around with it.

  • Been taking shit at work all morning, afaik I don't work on any "cores" =) Dhanji.
  • I logged onto the wave.google.com site and it says: Your Google Account has not yet been activated for Google Wave.
  • I've had a developer's account for a while, and I think that wave is fun. Most fun is writing robots that receive events (which events is a configuration option) when people add text to a wave, join a wave, etc. A robot can then itself modify or add to a wave.

    • by mu22le (766735)

      I've had a developer's account for a while, and I think that wave is fun.

      Do you have any invite for the sandbox? Care to send me one? (muzzle at gmail)

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