Software ahead of the curve: Google Wave

Google Wave, is the hottest thing on the web at this current moment. And to be frank marks the start of Google's rise in my estimations and there commitment to the web as the platform. When I first saw the Google IO video was impressed and seeked out my wave invite I would have got if I had gone to the London event. So I've been using/on Google wave for a while now, but since the public beta I've started to really use it for conversations.

So I've noticed Google wave has been getting a bashing from some high profile bloggers in the industry such as Scoble who thinks it will crash on the beach of overhype (what ever that means?). So what do I think? Well I think its amazing and most of my thoughts after watching the video still hold. So I'm going to start with the things I'd like to see changed or I think are not quite right.

Web-like – Wave is on the web but still not part of the web enough. For example why is it I can't send a link to someone directly to a wave or even better using the querystring to a section within a certain wave? Ideally you could do it with Xpointer or Xpath. I know there's wave robots/plugins which can push things out of the wave environment but linking and anchoring should be built in at the basic level.

Groupware – Wave is as far as I can tell a groupware system and although this is great for the enterprise, its also got enough usefulness for much smaller adhoc groups like us arranging events over basecamp, etc. So because of this, it needs plugins for time management, spending, calendaring as soon as possible. Heck I'd like to see a basecamp plugin for Wave but thats for another blog post. I did say ages ago that Lotus, Novell, Microsoft should be worried. There big bulky collaboration systems are under threat by the wave protocal. If they were smart they would quickly launch some skunk work clients or conversion transports using wave. Steve Rubel talks a lot about how Wave doesn't solve a consumer problem and therefore it will die. but I don't it has to, in the same way basecamp doesn't solve a consumer problem. No this is groupware for everyone but someone will adapt it for more clever things.

Client – Wave is crying out for some enterprising developers to create clients for it. I'm not knocking Google's Web Toolkit (GWT), google have done a great job with Google Wave's client but its not quite there yet. Its heavy on my browsers resources. I know there's a version for webkit browsers and the command line, but wheres the XUL, AIR, GTK+, QT heck even a Flash version. The API has been done and theres already reference versions to learn from, so whats taking so long? I can't be the only one thinking this? Anil Dashes excellent blog post talks about the complexity of Wave but never seems to mention how much better wave could be with a different client. Actually this would also solve a lot of the issues Steve Rubel is talking about with Wave.

So i'm still impressed but can't help people are writing it off at the first fence. Give it time to mature and grow before writing it off now. Wave is a hot but not ready for the consumers yet. Oh by the way I've run out of invites sorry.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.