I didn’t bother registering interest in this when I first heard about it because I was perhaps a bit too honest when thinking about the option: “Enlist me! I’ll report bugs and give feedback (e.g. user surveys)” *. And also because I didn’t think there was much chance I’d get in anyway.

However, all the news about it piqued my interest too much and so went back to register a couple of weeks ago. They must really be opening up access as I just got in. After the initial excitement (well new toys are always exciting) I’m now disappointed - not with Google Wave itself, rather that I don’t have a decent use for it. And that’s not because it’s not useful itself - this would be great at work for collaboration, but there’s NO CHANCE we’d be allowed to use it - I can think of a couple of useful work cases:

  1. Would be great combined with WebEx for discussing presentations. For instance at the moment we tend to present a few slides via WebEx then switch to chat/open up the phone line to discuss. Wave could be used here instead to discuss, share, show examples, modify examples and collect feedback.

  2. It would be great in meetings with various remote colleagues where we are actually trying to get work done (you know one of those rare meetings) E.g. outlining presentations. It would be superb for this!

For non-work use I can again think of a couple of use cases, but that aren’t everyday occurrences:

  1. Collaborating with, or providing feedback to virtual-friends. Wave would be much better than a forum for this as it would be possible to edit the original item, but also leave comments, etc. Not as good as markup functionality found in Word or OpenOffice (it isn’t obvious to see who has modified what), but it is real time - you can see who is editing what at that instant, an so you don’t lose time duplicating someone else response. Google Docs is an alternative for this kind of collaboration, but isn’t real time like Wave and Wave also has the advantage of including messages to collaborators within the same Wave, rather than having to use a forum or emails, etc to discuss.

  2. Collaborative code editing. Wave has great potential here. I.e. doing something like subethaedit which although a great tool is constrained in a way by being OSX only (Ok, there are alternatives, but Wave will bring this to the masses - I hope!). Take the Shoes project as an example: It’s Windows, Linux and OSX with native and cross platform code. Subethaedit can’t be used here. But GoogleWave would be ideal.

Of the alternatives I guess Etherpad comes the closest because it offers permanence like Wave, i.e. you can edit real-time collaboratively, but the document is also ‘hosted’ centrally so you can all go back to see it in it’s current state and do non-collaborative editing. But then Google Wave will offer much more than Etherpad and can be used for more than colloborating on documents - it already has better code support:

Ok, although nativley it isn’t really suitable for collaborating on code, there are two extensions that allow you to do so:

  • kasyntaxy (kasyntaxy@appspot.com) is a bot that does syntax highlighting on blips
  • CodeSnippet (search with:public codesnippet) is an Gadget that does syntax highlighting with line numbering.

Both are useful. Kasyntaxy would be better for realtime collaboration with more than one person editing a blip, although there is a bit of a delay in it applying the syntax highlighting. Whereas CodeSnippet looks better, offers line numbering and would be better for wiki-style editing.

* Turns out I needn’t have worried Google Wave Product Ideas has already collected over 5000 ideas so pretty much most of the bugs or suggestions you come up with will have already been logged, all that’s left to do is vote them up/down.