Google Wave: Vision of Web 3.0?

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Friday, May 29, 2009

google-wave logoGoogle is constantly upgrading and improving itself looking at the future of web with their kinds. In their endeavour of doing so, the latest innovation they showed us on Google Developers’ conference at San Fransisco, is Google Wave. According to them,

Google Wave is a product that helps users communicate and collaborate on the web. A “wave” is equal parts conversation and document, where users can almost instantly communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. Google Wave is also a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services and to build extensions that work inside waves.

In other words, its a communication tool that consolidates features from e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, multimedia management, document sharing and wiki. It is indeed, though I shouldn’t sound as a G-fanboy, one of the most ambitious and just-at-the-edge projects Google has put his hands on, ever. I will try to justify my assumptions below. Let’s get to know the Wave first.

Tell me What exactly Google Wave does

Okay let’s be straight without taking too many confusing technical terms . In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. How cool is that?


Who made it possible?

Now you have known the technology. Let’s get to know the faces. It is developed by brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen and Stephanie Hannon out of Google’s Sydney, Australia.



Wave features a left-hand sidebar Navigation and a list of your contacts, from Google Contacts, below that. But the main part of the screen is your Wave inbox. It looks almost like a Google inbox but the main difference is, you are updated of any new content shared with you and not just messages.

Adding a Friend

Its fairly easy. You can do it by going over to your contact box and dragging their picture into the wave. Now the interesting feature is, upon joining if he wants to understand what’s really happening in this wave, there is a playback button. Click on it and it will rewind all the stuff that you needed to know in last few days that happened inside that wave community.

Read and Reply

As you want to read a new wave, just click on it and on the right pane it will open up in full. Remember Opera feed reader? Its almost like that. If you have read and want to reply, there is a simple way to do so just as have in Gmail too, right under the friend’s message.

What’s new is you can reply to any specific part of your friend’s message just by typing below that portion. Its almost like a single piece of paper you and your friend are sharing.

Instant Messaging

We knew Google wouldn’t leave the success of Twitter unattended. If you were thinking where is my Google way of RTI (real time interaction) service. Here it is.

If two of the people involved in the wave are online at the same time, you can talk to each other in real time. Just type in, enter and the person will be able to see it.

What if you don’t want to show your snippets until you complete it? Just click on the DRAFT mode and it will be public only when you want it to. Just like blogging.

What if you want to have a private conversation with someone and don’t want the whole wave to know about it. Its there too.


Real time editing of any document or information or any content for that matter has a problem of being re-edited by more than one people at the same time, making it a mess. Google Wave has worked upon that and though there is a wiki included for collaborative information sharing and editing on any topic, you won’t miss out on edit updates flashing on your screen in a nice UI and you can playback anytime if you need to.

Sharing Pictures, Games, Google Maps and beyond


If you share pictures in a wave thread with several other people, from the moment after you drag the photos into the wave on your end, your friends can see the thumbnails of them on their screen. With Google gears installed, this will be a damn cool job where you can just drag and drop a photo in your wave window and it will get published! HTML 5 is something we all will be trying in future just like Google showcases here.

What else is special? - Web Content Sharing

Right, this question is bound to come to your mind by now because, this looks like a very nice AIO Google app. Where is the revolution that Google expects it to be? Google isn’t just thinking of Wave as another web app that it creates and you use on one site — it wants you to be able to use it across all sites on the web. As Techcrunch puts it,

Say, for example, you have a blog. As a post, you could share a wave with the public and allow others to see what you and the other people in your wave are doing. And these visitors to your blog could even join in as well right from your blog, and all the information would be placed right into the original wave.

After that, you can try anonymous collaboration or may be in future Google will think of something like Facebook Connect or Google Connect.

Waves can also be published as their own entities on the web. This would make them and their content indexable by Google’s bots.

Google Wave for Developers

Google expects to keep Wave as a developer preview product for at least several more months. For starters, only developers attending I/O will get access to Wave on Thursday. Google will expand access to more developers later.

It’s also important to note that Wave is very much centered around the key fundamentals Google is focusing on with HTML 5: The canvas element, the video element, geolocation, App Cache and Database and Web Workers. You can read more about those on O’Reilly Radar.

Wave API Model

The Google Wave API is an open platform allowing developers to extend the functionality of Google Wave itself, or extend other applications with waves. As a developer, you can think of Google Wave as three pieces:

  • The Google Wave client application, the interface designed for users
  • The Google Wave APIs, which are documented throughout this site
  • The Google Wave Federation Protocol, the underlying network protocol for wave communication

Wave Entities


Let’s look at the common place terms you will encounter while understanding the model above.

  1. A wave is a threaded conversation, consisting of one or more participants
  2. A wavelet is a threaded conversation that is spawned from a wave (including the initial conversation). Wavelets serve as the container for one or more messages, known as blips
  3. A blip is the basic unit of conversation and consists of a single messages which appears on a wavelet. Blips may either be drafts or published
  4. A document is the content attached to a blip. This document consists of XML which can be retrieved, modified or added by the API.

You can Request Sandbox Access and start developing now!

Why is this project risky?

  1. You can answer it very well yourself if you thread all these pieces together. By Google wave, Google is not only trying to get out of reach from its competitors like Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, but also it means, they will be self-destructing (its too strong a word) their years of apps like Google docs, Gmail, Picassa, blogspot etc, individually.
  2. Again, with all these inter-connected social networking sites and services available, and with individually people having enough of what they need, the main question is, what is the need to come under one roof (esp. when its Google)? We have seen previously too that people are conscious of Google’s gradual growth to invincibility and coming up as a no-alternative image. So, the biggest point for Google will be to convince people enough that its not yet another service but THE new face of web. Will the mass take it as a favor or a surrender, that is to be seen.

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