So Friday was the Google Wave Developer Day in Sydney or #wavedaysyd.
So I now have my Google Wave Sandbox account, and a new appreciation for developers, since trying my hand at downloading eclipse and setting up the basic wave demo was a complete failure (hopefully it had something to do with Win 7 or my eee pc and I can try it again on my desktop).
So, I was going to do the Part 2 of my Google Wave for Project Collaboration post after the WaveDay, but Wave is not quite ready yet to see exactly where it will be heading as a really solid piece of enterprise software, so I’m going to hold off on that one for now.
For now, I will just go through some of my first impressions of Google Wave. Overall it did live up to my expectations as a concept. It’s just in very early development stage at the moment, but you can see where it is possibly heading.
Look and feel
The main panel of waves is a bit crowded and it really needs a big screen to give it room to look good. You can hide the panels as you need to which helps for productivity.
Yes, it’s a bit flaky at the moment. It’s got a lovely feature called Dr. Wave that pops up when it’s about to die, and a cool error message if the wave itself is getting a bit flaky. If it’s going to be flaky it may as well have some fun doing so.
Seeing other people type
This was really cool – I didn’t think it would be. Seeing someone start to answer your question before you have even finished typing it, because they have go the gist of the message was really great. I think this will be one that takes just a little bit of time to get used to, but within a short time normal IM conversations will be very boring.
There are a few missing things to the UI right now like folders, saved searches, draft editing mode, different views on the wave, spam etc, and the Mute function and archive functions are a bit hit and miss but you can see that it is coming at least.
You need to either click on Done or press shift+enter when you are done writing a blip… in a fast moving wave this can be a bit annoying. I would love a setting to have enter as done.
It’s also annoying that you can’t easily delete a blip. If you start a blip in the wrong place you can’t just do Esc to undo it, you actually have to go to the menu and choose delete… it would be good to just be able to undo what you are typing (even though people may have already seen it as you type).
In a fast moving wave, it is quite hard to follow where the updates are happening… I think some more work needs to happen on seeing the updates – like a keystroke (eg j, k like gmail and greader) to quickly go to the next unread blip. Plus the blips currently need to be clicked on or you need to click on the Read button to mark as read. A scroll past and mark as read feature like greader would be good.
The indenting of the blips can get a bit unwieldy, but it wasn’t till the end of the day that we found out we could do shift+enter to create a new blip at the bottom of the wave… I think if we all knew that little gem of a tip, it would have been a lot easier.
This one is going to take a while to get used to. Whether to reply, or to edit, and where to reply in the wave is all a bit confusing. It helps if someone states up front in the Wave header as to what they expect. It determines if the wave is a document type wave, a wiki type wave or an IM conversation type wave… and just as in email the same rules such as not using the same wave thread for other topics or not cc’ing in other people all need to be worked out by the wave participants.
There is no @reply feature to show you that someone has specifically replied to you. This could be just an etiquette thing (ie typing the @ symbol or similar) but it also needs a way to alert you that someone has replied to you.
It’s a bit of a pain at the moment that the system won’t autocomplete or recognise names from part of the name, so you have to type in the full name (eg email@example.com) when you are adding someone new (after that it is just drag and drop to communicate with them), and if you make a mistake, at the moment you can’t delete contacts.
This is where I was hoping for a lot and there is not a lot there – just yet… but I can see the possibilities and we may one day get to a level of photo management that I described in my previous post. At the moment you can’t select single or multiple photos and copy them into a new wave – you can only copy all of the photos in a blip to a new wave (you can then delete them but it’s tedious and if there are photos in multiple blips it doesn’t really work at all). There is a great slideshow viewer but again you can either see all photos in the wave or just one… not the ones you want. Drag and drop to upload did not work for me, but apparently I need a newer version of chrome to do it.
Bots and Gadgets
There were some really really fantastic bots and gadgets developed on Friday and I can’t wait for some of them to be essential bots that we have to have in every day use of Wave. There is a small limitation at the moment that makes it difficult for gadgets to be useful, in that they can’t interact with the wave – eg a Gadget can’t create or edit text on the wave, only a bot can. So my idea of a form filling gadget that displays XML data on the wave is well off into the future.
So overall Wave is the start of something very new, and something that I’m so exited to be using, even in it’s current, flaky state. And I’m off to play another game of Hangman with a bot made by @mrspeaker.