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.“
“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.“
Google Declines to Rise to the Wave Bait
eWEEK brought the post to Google’s attention Aug.10, looking for comment from Wave creators Lars Rasmussen and Jens Rasmussen, who built the platform in secret in their home country of Australia before unveiling it to a room filled with applause at Google I/O in May. However, Google declined to challenge Dash’s points.
That didn’t stop some of Dash’s readers from rushing to Google’s defense. Rlane32 wrote:
“Are you seriously saying that Google Wave is going to fail because it is going to be too hard to re-implement? They have already released their protocol implementation as open source. So, the open source community should be able to modify it, clone it, and fork it however they want. They also have a free open source implementation that Google uses as a way to test for interoperability. Google Wave’s protocols aren’t that terribly difficult. xmpp.org, for instance, lists 24 different server implementations and there are *hundreds* of clients. In comparison to protocols like LDAP, Kerberos, TLS, etc. the protocols Google is using for this aren’t even close to difficult.“
Filobuster chimed in:
Others agreed with Dash.
“Google Wave is more technology-driven rather than customer-driven so it’s hard seeing it going mainstream or extending beyond early adaptors any time soon, if at all,” Jalateras wrote.
Venkatbabukr added: “The Web is too big and what we do every day on the Web-not sure how Wave would be able to support all those things easily. Guess it might immediately support e-mail, IM, Orkut, etc. … but until developers develop supercool and simple-to-use applications on it, people won’t be able to embrace it very effectively.”
This is all not to say Dash isn’t rooting for Google Wave to succeed. He is:
“I hope that Wave succeeds, because I love to see ambition and innovation rewarded. But I think it’s mostly likely that Wave’s success will be in inspiring people to create similarly compelling experiences by adding incremental enhancements to their existing sites. That’s how the Web’s always advanced in the past.“
eWEEK believes Google has too much riding on Wave for it not to succeed, if only as a series of augmentations to Google Apps.
Read more about this topic on TechMeme here.