One of the great features that we used is the ability to drag and drop files into Google Wave. Rather than trying to email, and waiting for the email to show up, we simply dropped a file into the wave. Since we were concerned with image files, we could immediately sort through dozens of colours and pick the ones to use for our colour scheme by extracting the palette from the image file. We were able to recolour files and see the results instantly. We were also able to attach documents and zip files, and I'm sure other types of files would work, too.
We were able to vote on which colour scheme we liked best, and choose one that we felt worked with the theme of the site, through the use of polls. We also used the poll feature to decide on various word choices and layouts. Although for two people, this seems a little odd, I can see that on a project where you may have more people, this will become a very useful tool.
The major pro here is the ability to edit what has already been done. We use this on project management, where we lay out a list of goals. As goals are completed, we edit the already-existing text with a strikethrough, and are able to add comments such as how a certain programming problem was solved, or what the exact hex codes are for certain colours, or insert code to show how to solve a template layout problem. The ability to edit already-existing information (and to see who edited what) is surely what puts Google Wave head and shoulders above any competition.
Although we have not tried out many of the features, we have used maps for certain pages of the site, which are able to be edited by everyone on the wave, and mindmaps to lay out certain project goals.
Overall, we have found it to be a huge timesaver because of another feature: the ability to go back and forth through the wave and structure it. So while the top of the wave dealt with programming issues, the middle of the wave dealt with colour schemes, and the bottom of the wave dealt with addons. By going back and forth through the wave, editing and replying, we were able to keep the project on task, rather than losing ideas in multiple emails, or having to scroll back through chat session logs.
Google Wave is in the early stages of development. As such, it crashes frequently, as is to be expected. If your contacts are not already on Google Wave, you may have a lonely time of it until more people get added. (To combat this, in the search box type "with:public" which will load all public waves, where everyone who is on Google Wave is invited in.) In addition, waves with many files or attachments, or waves that become very long, get so slow that it's better to abandon them and start a new wave.
There's also no easy way to drag and drop waves into folders--so that, say, if you are in charge of website development, you can drop those into one folder, and plans for dinner with friends into another folder. I think that sorting ability is imperative to make Google Wave really useful.
The new scroll bar also takes a lot of getting used to, and with long and complex waves, Google Wave is to date not quite responsive enough to scroll through efficiently.
Google Wave is the newest kid on the block, and it's pretty darned cool. I was one of the first to receive invitations and passed one on to my 14-year-old webmaster, and we have been using it to collaborate on several web sites. While Google Wave is not ready for prime time, by any means, the tool has amazing possibilities for collaboration.
We have used it to discuss colour schemes, template layout, programming problems and solutions, project management, and many other aspects that go into putting up a new website. So while my review will be slanted towards the use of Google Wave for collaborative work projects, it's clear that there are great possibilities ahead for any kind of collaboration, on a large scale, or small.
What is Google Wave? Imagine an instant messaging client, with the ability to drag and drop files into it. Add maps, and gadgets such as calendars, much like on the iGoogle account. Now add polls, and specialized tools, like the ability to resolve an ID number into a research article published in a journal, or to an item in a public database (such as a Congressional voting record). Now imagine that you have a Star Trek translator (OK, it's not that good!) that will allow you to understand what someone is typing in a language you don't speak. And something that will correct your spelling as you type, and can even understand which of several words you actually meant to type.
In short, beg, borrow or steal an invitation and get to learn to use it now!
Google Wave is an extremely useful application, although the learning curve is extremely steep and it will take you about a week to learn to use it well. As programmers continue to develop applications for it, some frivolous, some essential, and Google continues to improve the product, I predict that it will be bigger than anything out there. While it will never replace email, or instant messaging, for projects requiring collaboration, Google Wave is definitely on the leading edge.
Update: Well, clearly I shouldn't be picking stocks, either. However, I treasure my experience with Google Wave because it taught me some of the perils and benefits of remote collaboration with a completely inclusive threaded tool. I hope other software developers will continue to develop this trend in the future!
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