Google opened up Google Wave to everyone at the Google I/O show in San Francisco May 19, a fitting gesture for the real-time collaboration platform the company launched to great interest at the same event one year ago.
Google Wave is one big mashup of e-mail, instant messaging, photo and video-sharing combined with real-time text editing. Until today, the platform was rolled out in stages and there are more than 1 million active Wave users.
Lars Rasmussen, engineering manager for Google Wave, said he is confident Wave is now ready for the big time so the company made Wave available to all consumers and business users.
Google Wave is now part of Google Labs and users can navigate to wave.google.com and sign in with their Google account.
Wave is also now officially part of Google Apps, so Google Apps administrators can opt in to enable Google Wave free for their Google Apps Standard, Premier and Education edition users through the Labs tab in Google Apps.
Admins must go to their control panel, click Add more services, then click Add it now to turn on Google Wave. There is a caveat; Labs are not included in the Google Apps service level agreement, so Wave use is at the user’s risk.
Rasmussen told eWEEK that since Wave was rolled out in stages over the last year, its sweet spot is “getting work done,” particularly for a group or team of people. Students, teachers and programmers are among those using Wave to collaborate.
Google has also open-sourced its rich text editor, the driving force behind functionality that lets users type and edit each other’s work in real-time.
Wave and Open Source
Rasmussen said this text editor is the core of the Wave in-browser client, which was by far the hardest piece to write.
“It’s wrapped in a very simple Web client that speaks the beginning of a client-server protocol. Eventually, this protocol will evolve into something that will let developers build full-fledged Web clients that can sit on top of any wave service that speaks its protocol, which of course will include Wave itself.”
The Wave team said it also improved the Google Wave APIs. In particular, the Robots API v2 includes an “active” component and robots are no longer tied to Google’s App Engine.
Wave robots are automated participants on a wave that can interact with waves just like human users. That is, robots may read the contents of a wave in which it participates, modify the wave’s contents, add or remove participants, and create new blips and new waves.
In the past, robots had to live on Google App Engine, but Rasmussen said Google has removed that restrictions, satisfying a top request of Wave developers.
Wave was also criticized for not affording users enough control over their user experience. The Wave team added several management features to cut down on the noise. These include e-mail notifications and the ability to follow and un-follow Waves and jettison Wave participants.
Going forward, Rasmussen said his team will ad even more management features, as well as speed and usability features. He declined to provide specifics.