Developer Features

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2009-08-09 Print this article Print


Developer Features

By far, the most intriguing features of the Google Wave developer preview are for developers (as it should be).

Google Wave offers many ways for developers to extend collaboration with applications and Web services, and the API for tying these into Google Wave is very simple and straightforward. Anyone with a good understanding of XML, JavaScript and current Web 2.0 systems will have little trouble integrating with Google Wave.

The main tools for extending Google Waves are gadgets and robots. Gadgets are essentially applications that can be embedded inside Google Waves, and robots are extensions that carry out automated actions based on data changes within a Wave.

All of these capabilities are currently added and accessed through the Debug menu in Google Wave. From here I could browse through existing gadgets and extensions, or directly add any extension for which I had an XML URL for.

As is common with most developer previews, the first batch of gadgets tend toward fun and games, but these gadgets do a good job of showing some of the potential interactions. And many more useful gadgets-such as some that use Google Maps to show locations of all participants in a Wave-are already popping up.

There is definitely a great deal of potential in these developer tools, which can be used to add functionality and address shortcomings in Google Wave. For example, it would not be difficult to build a robot that added the commenting-history capabilities that I was unable to find in this test.

Another interesting aspect of Google Wave is the ability to embed any Wave into external Websites. Using simple embed code like that found in most widgets on the Web, it's a simple matter to take a Wave to any Website you own.

To do this, I just pulled the Wave ID (accessible from the Debug menu) of my Waves, then, using sample embed code, I added Waves to my sites. Several of my Waves failed to display properly on my external sites, though these were ones that were usually tied to complex gadgets. To see a successful example, here's a Wave of a Magic 8 Ball robot that I placed in a post on the Emerging Technologies blog.

To me, this ability to embed Waves could become key to the growth of Google Wave. One can see a large number of unique applications and collaborative interactive systems that could be easily built on Waves. With the simple embedding process, it would be trivial to extend the functionality of Websites with Google Waves (and extend the data penetration of Google into even more Websites).

Right now, I wouldn't recommend that anyone but developers try out this early release of Google Wave. But if you are a Web developer, you should definitely try to get your hands dirty with this latest tool from Google.

To get more information on Google Wave, go to

Chief Technology Analyst Jim Rapoza can be reached at


Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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