Google Wave

Google Wave Overview

Google wave is an online software application product of Google, described as a “personal communication and collaboration tool” which was first announced at the Google Innovation in the Open conference on May 27, 2009.

A wave is a mixture of both conversation and documents where people come together to have a discussion and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. A Google wave is a web-based service, computing platform, and communication protocol designed to combine in one place e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus supported by extensions that can provide, for example, spelling/grammar checking, automated translation among 40 languages, and numerous other extensions.

The Google wave was initially released only to developers, a preview release of Wave was extended to 100,000 users in September 2009, and each was allowed to invite additional users. On the 29th of November 2009, Google accepted most requests submitted soon after the extended release of the technical preview in September 2009.

As describe earlier, Google wave is a web based application which means that it can only be accessed via a web browser over a network such as the Internet or an intranet. Web applications are very popular because of the convenience of using a web browser as a client, sometimes called a thin client. One of the main advantages of working with web applications is the fact of you can update and maintain them without distributing and installing software on thousands of client computers, as inherent support for cross-platform compatibility.

Google wave is written in Java using openJDK and its web interface uses Google Web Toolkit (GWT) which is an open source set of tools that allows web developers to create and maintain complex JavaScript front-end applications in Java. Everything is Java source that can be built on any platform with the included GWT Ant build files. The GWT is licensed under the Apache Licence version 2.0.
Google wave is designed as a new Internet communications platform and it works like any other previous messaging systems such as email and Usenet, but differ from them for the fact that instead of sending message along with its entire thread of previous messages, or requiring all responses to be stored in each user’s inbox for context, message documents which are referred to as “waves” containing threads of multimedia messages called “blips” are perpetually stored on a central server. Waves are shared with collaborators who can be added or removed from the wave at any point during a wave's existence.

A key feature of the protocol which simply provides the facility to store waves on the service provider's servers instead of being sent between users. Waves are federated; copies of waves and wavelets are distributed by the wave provider of the originating user to the providers of all other participants in a particular wave or wavelet so all participants have immediate access to up-to-date content. The originating wave server is responsible for hosting, processing, and concurrency control of waves. The protocol allows private reply wavelets within parent waves, where other participants have no access or knowledge of them.

Characteristics of a Wave

A Google wave is a combination of both conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together is always shared and live. Shared in this sense means that any participant has the power to reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when. Every participant in the wave has almost the same privileges.

By 'live' it is meant that participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

When to use Google Wave

Google Wave is suitable several uses such as Group projects, photo sharing, meeting notes, brainstorming and interactive games.

Collaborative work

Google wave is meant to facilitate the following:

Collaboratively work in real time to draft content, discuss and solicit feedback all in one place rather than sending email attachments and creating multiple copies that can easily get out of sync.

Prepare a meeting agenda together; share the burden of taking notes and record decisions so you all leave on the same page. Team members can follow the minutes in real time, or review the history using Playback later. If they miss the meeting they can watch how the document was made by using the playback facility.

Share photos with other people. Everyone on the wave can add their photos, too. It is easy to make a group photo album in Google Wave. There is a slideshow viewer for viewing photos.

Bring lots of people into a wave to brainstorm - live concurrent editing makes the quantity of ideas grow quickly! It is easy to add rich content like videos, images, URLs or even links to other waves. Discuss and then work together to distil down to the good ideas.

Add a gadget to a wave to play live interactive games with your friends. See everyone's moves as they make them in a fast-paced game or take a break and come back later.


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