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Thoughts on Google Wave

· Java Zone

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If you’re not yet seasick with all the reviews of Google Wave, here are a few additional thoughts.

My mental picture for a Wave is that of an IRC channel on which each message is an edit to an XML doc. And where the IRC server (or a bot, like Zakim) keeps a log of all messages. I think it’s the use of bots in Wave as in IRC that pushed me towards this view. The character-per-character update reminded me of the arguments about the comparative values of the Unix “talk” command and IRC. And if the IRC comparison holds water, hang on for the upcoming bot wars. BTW, doesn’t this Wave Federation Protocol look like an ideal opportunity to resurrect the IRC bot attack code that leveraged server splits?

Leaving IRC aside, the other obvious lens through which to look at Wave is the good old WS/REST debate. Let’s brace ourselves for the “is Wave RESTful” analysis that are sure to follow. I’ll note, tongue in cheek, that an alternative (to XMPP) way to implement a Wave could be provided by the WS specifications currently being worked on in the W3C Web Services Resource Access working group : send a succession of WS-RT “Put” messages to a WS-Eventing event sink that, in turn, acts as an event source. Or formalize the sink/source combination more cleanly as a broker from WS-BrokeredNotification. Finally a non-management use case for these specifications! Good luck doing character-by-character updates over this, but I am not sure that this is the most fundamental part of Wave anyway (though it makes for a good demo).

Nick Gall is right to separate the “technology showcase” aspect from the “killer app” aspect. The demo is very nice but it takes more than cool technology to change years of habits and social conventions, supported by hundreds of tools. So I am not sure how much of a killer app this collaboration demo is, however nice. On the other hand, I can see how the underlying framework (or at least the techniques used to create it) could quickly spread. I need more time looking at the federation protocol to decide what I think about it. This blog entry clearly describes the three Ps (product, platform, protocol) and some of the history.

As far as how this may relate to systems management, I don’t see too much alignment from a modeling perspective. What really matters in IT models are the relationships between the entities and Wave puts a lot more focus on the content of each wave than its relationships with others. At least for now. The underlying synchronization techniques on the other hand seem more readily applicable. The Rasmussen brothers previously created Google Maps which I found very inspiring from an IT management point of view. Years later the IT management industry still hasn’t caught up with them.

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Published at DZone with permission of William Vambenepe .

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