Waive Google Wave for Now

14th November 2009
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Before I Get Into It

Follow @googlewave on Twitter for weekly updates, tips and tricks. Look up Google Wave on YouTube for some great tutorials.

I had a brief discussion about Wave on macosx.com and thought I’d share those thoughts here. I want to see what others are saying about Google Wave.

A Little Background

Google Wave is based on the opensource XMPP framework which has been around since 2000 or so. Apple iChat also uses XMPP, as do many other chat clients, so what Google is doing is just building upon that existing framework and incorporating other functionality visually to come up with Wave.

My first impression of Wave, as is common, is, “so what now?” It’s a mishmash of features and windows, none of which seem to be related to each other, though after using Wave for a bit it’s easy to see the tool bars are on the left and the content bars are middle and right:

You can reply to replied replies which really disallows any continuity in conversations. This is what makes interacting with a group so confusing, though the avatars help keep content ownership straight:

I’m hoping this interaction is restricted to threaded replies; the @troynt twitter script for greasemonkey does this really well. A post and its subsequent replies get grouped together, and those threads can be easily navigated and images and video links are automatically previewed in-line:

Google is not known for it’s stellar interaction design, in fact the ratio is about 800 devs to 10 designers and their top designers find their engineer-heavy culture stifling at best. I wrote about this “design-drain” in an earlier blog post, so the Silicon Valley company depends on iteration to help it refine its designs.

Google can definitely afford to let Wave germinate and grow. In fact, as of today they are soliciting critiques from invited users to help make it better and I expect this process will continue for some time to come:

@googlewave Wavers! Give us your feedback on Google Wave! survey.googleratings.com

Final Thoughts

What I’m hoping happens next is Google will take this thing to the next level of functionality – a sort of GoToMeeting meets Twitter meets email with the usability level of an iPhone or Ducati motorcycle, for example.

It takes Google longer to get the design right on their apps, and I’m hoping in this case they give it time to be refined enough to be usable without taking 6 years to do it, a la Google Mail.

Sure, my expecations are high – but please Google, don’t keep Wave in beta for 6 odd years like you did Google Mail. Iterate, but then finalise and commit and then Google Wave could be a great product. For now I’m waiving Wave, but I definitely have my eye on it for big things in the future.

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Nathaniel Flick

I'm a Front End Web Developer passionate about usability. My primary specialties are HTML5, CSS3, SCSS, LESS, and jQuery and I am very familiar with Foundation and Bootstrap frameworks. I've worked on top of and with Rails, Python, and ASP.net/Umbraco back end frameworks.