Google Wave Gets Read-Only, Wave Restoration Features

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-01-21

Updated: Google Jan. 20 added read-only participants and wave restoration to Google Wave, two features that should help collaboration sessions stay on topic for a platform seeking to fill some management gaps.

Google Wave is the company's real-time collaboration platform, which combines team document editing, e-mail, instant messaging and social networking into one platform, whose code was released to open source in 2009.

The company launched the platform iteratively, first to 6,000 or so developers last July, then to 100,000 users Sept. 30 and finally to 1 million people in December.

Since Wave's launch, users have complained about the lack of management features in the platform. For example, Wave users couldn't control what waves they saw in their inbox, so Google in November added a feature that let users shun waves they don't want to see.

The new participants read-only feature will allow any creator of a wave-Google's term for a collaboration session-to toggle participants in the wave between full access and read-only, said Narelle Cozens, a software engineer for the Google Wave Team.

Users can do this by clicking on the wave user's profile picture at the top of the wave panel and selecting the access level in the drop-down. Similar to permission levels granted in Google Docs, read-only participants cannot alter waves, but they can view live changes and look at the history in playback.

Wave creators can also render entire groups read-only, including the public group.

The new restore from playback feature enables anyone with full access to a wave to restore that wave to any previous state, which lets users correct mistakes made in the session. Cozens noted that restoration does not delete anything from the playback history, and instead adds the restored state at the end.

Finally, Cozens provided a teaser for Wave management in 2010.

Specifically, Google is creating a "Reply only" access setting that will let users add new blips, but deny them from editing blips they did not create. The Wave team is also redesigning the platform's interface to let users more easily change permissions for multiple participants.

Clearly, Google's Wave programming team has listened to calls for more granular access controls on Wave. But will this keep users waving? Moreover, what is the adoption and use rate for Wave?

When Google sent out 1 million invitations, it provided the opportunity for Wave users to invite eight or more users. How many users are spreading these invites around and, more importantly, how many invitees are taking their friends and colleagues up on the invites?

A Google spokesperson responded: "We have sent millions of invitations to Google Wave and have more than a million active users."

That's impressive. 

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