Are you fed up enough with modern e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and wikis to use a product such as Google Wave, which rolls all of this functionality together? You might think you are, but pay attention first. Wave has learning curves for programmers and end users.
Google Wave is a communication and collaboration platform that rolls e-mail, instant messaging, blog and wiki functionality together and functions in real time. With Wave, users can co-edit a document or file right from their computers without even being in the same room with their collaborators.
Wave has the potential to take enterprise collaboration to the next level, and Google is in the process of open sourcing the many components of Wave for programmers to build applications.
Anil Dash, the high-profile blogger who called Wave to task Aug. 7 for being too hard for programmers to learn and implement in a reasonable amount of time, also suggested people aren’t looking to replace e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and wikis.
Dash, also a vice president at blogging software maker Six Apart, wrote: “Those tools all work great for their intended purposes, and whatever technology augments them will likely offer a different combination of persistence and immediacy than those systems. Right now, Wave evokes all of them without being its own distinctive thing. Which means it’s most useful in providing reference implementations of particular new features.”
This calls into question whether the world is ready for Wave, which is in developer preview to some 10,000 users and will be rolled out to 100,000 users for testing among the general public Sept. 30.
Some readers disagreed that people aren’t tired enough of modern tools to replace them with something such as Wave: “I must differ, I’m sick of e-mail and instant messaging right now (I usually use Facebook to communicate with friends). I think Wave will fix that,” wrote Hugh in the comments for Dash’s post.
Responding to the eWEEK article on Dash’s Wave post, Ian Hendry said, “[If] e-mail had been invented today it would look nothing like the way it does currently, based on fat clients, offline workings and the like. So Wave shows promise. Especially when you factor in the number of steps and separate applications you need to use to get the same things done currently.”
Analysts Weigh In on Wave
Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler told eWEEK:
““I do think that we need new collaborative vehicles, particularly ones that create zero-latency communication and authoring. IM and texting don’t do it; wikis are fine as persistent repositories or co-authored content. But we’re missing simultaneous editing, persistent conversations and a slew of other things.”“
Gartner analyst Ray Valdes said one scenario is that people gradually migrate to Wave, using the platform first for a specific task, such as e-mail, then gradually broadening their use of it to include blogs and wikis.
“People could adopt Wave and use it the same way that they use e-mail and blogs and wikis,” Valdes told eWEEK. “So e-mail people will use Wave like e-mail, blog people will use Wave like blogs, and wiki people will use Wave like a wiki. Over time, they’ll learn the full power of Wave.”
Valdes, who wrote his first Wave robot in 30 minutes using 30 lines of Python code at Google’s Hackathon last weekend, also believes Wave suffers from a complexity problem, just not in the same vein as Dash. Dash argued that the many moving parts of Wave, including XMPP and OpenSocial, make it a bear to use, unlike the easier RSS and AJAX Web technologies. Valdes said:
““I do think that Wave has a complexity problem, but it is not so much internal technical complexity as user interface complexity. In its current form, Wave fails the ‘grandma test’-that is, can my grandma use it? I am speaking, of course, of online grandmas that are already using e-mail and IM and Facebook-which these days, there are very many that are. I think Google needs to simplify the Wave user experience if they want to achieve mass adoption.”“
However, while Valdes appreciates Wave for extending of the communication and collaboration potential of the Internet, he said Wave will not challenge IBM Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server for five to 10 years, if it ever does.
Reader Hendry finished with a flourish: “Will the public get behind it? Those who don’t already have a neat way of working with Exchange and SharePoint integration probably will. And if people get behind it, then developers will be inclined to work out their issues because if the people want it then that’s where you need to be to survive.”
Still, Dash argued that in order for programmers to embark on such an upgrade as Wave, there needs to be some concrete value to a platform, even if the people on the other end haven’t upgraded their software, Web browsers, clients or servers. “Otherwise you’re shouting into an empty room,” he wrote.