Is Google Wave Too Complex to Become a Mainstream Web Platform?

Google Wave is a pretty messaging and collaboration platform that lets users communicate and edit documents in real time through a series of computing protocols. High-tech blogger Anil Dash explains why he believes the open-source platform won't see broad adoption: It's too complex in a world where simpler Web technologies such as RSS and AJAX rule the application development roost.

Well-known high-tech blogger Anil Dash has said he believes Google Wave is too complex to be broadly accepted as a platform by third-party programmers looking to write communications and collaboration applications.

Google Wave lets users send messages to each other, edit each other's messages and share pictures, video and other files in real time, serving as a live-action messaging and collaboration platform. Wave is elegant but buggy; Google is currently fine-tuning the platform, which the company is open-sourcing bit by bit, for a test run with 100,000 mainstream users Sept. 30.

Dash, a vice president at Six Apart who has been blogging for a decade, wrote in his personal blog Aug. 7 that while Wave has "cool features," the open-source platform is not conducive to easy application development and compatibility.

Dash argued that upgrades to the Web must be incremental and capable of being implemented in the course of a weekend instead of requiring an overhaul to programmer's technical infrastructure.

For example, while developers might grasp RSS feeds and AJAX in the course of an afternoon, Wave comprises an intricately woven Web of technologies that need to be accounted for as a whole in development. Dash wrote:

"Wave offers excellent opportunities to extend its core features and to add richness to its "wavelets", and I have no criticisms over its utility as a developer platform that third parties can build upon. But the fundamental Wave protocols are, I fear, a bit too complex to ever be fully and correctly implemented by anyone other than Google. Interoperability is likely to be a challenge that plagues the platform for its entire existence. In short: It's likely that nobody will ever build a fully-compatible clone of Wave that competes with Google's own implementation."

Specifically, Dash noted that Wave relies on several components that need to work in lockstep, including the XMPP messaging protocol, the JSON-RPC robot protocol, the OpenSocial Gadgets API, the JavaScript Wave Embed API and the client/server protocol as defined by Google Web Toolkit. These tools make Wave the real-time uber-collaboration platform it aims to be. Dash added:

"That's a lotta stuff! XMPP alone is a bear to implement, let alone to deploy at large scale. (I can't think of anyone outside of Google, Earthlink and LiveJournal who have deployed XMPP to millions of users.) But if you wanted to make another application that truly interoperates with all that Wave can do, combining all of these pieces would just be the starting point."