Friday, November 6, 2009

A Pebble in a Pond… further thoughts on Google Wave

Google Wave has now become a part of my daily toolset. The newness and giddy experimental phase has passed and now the "is it good-enough" functionality assessment is settling in.

Those who know me well have experienced my dance through applications and utilities… at any given time there can be hundreds apps on my laptop and another thousand or so on the towers…. and I prune them regularly when they fail to live up to my demanding expectations.

This number has been shrinking as I find robust enough web/cloud apps that enable collaborative work with online colleagues. Google Wave seemed to bring the promise of meeting that need… but was it good enough to join the elite stable of keepers? It needed to be put to the test.

Moving the Wave into my daily routine

Once we got the development team into Wave, we brought it in to our dev routine to see how it could enhance the workflow. It quickly became the tracking tool and communication hub… it was the bulletin board to leave messages, the daily reminder for "what to tackle next", the wish list for new feature ideas we wanted to pursue…

Some of the easily integrated extensions in Wave added functionality:
  • we added embedded live site views to demonstrate problems and fixes,
  • dropped in screen shots to demonstrate differences,
  • added polls to vote on changes,
  • embedded a Google calendar to track milestone dates
Side problems that grew lives of their own and future release ideas were easily split into their own waves for ongoing discussion.

Along the way I set up several "idea" and "how-to" waves for further exploration of the tips and tricks I'd learned… like how to embed the i-frames correctly, the steps to place a google calendar, and testing of a code snippet editor that maintained syntax coloration. These were shared more broadly, with folk beyond the dev team.

Are We There Yet?

I think so… Wave is still Preview Beta, and still by invitation only (though we were able to get all our team invited)… but it is already proving to be a useful tool within the workflow.
All the team are on the same page… outstanding items get tracked within the threaded flow, and the blips get flagged as done or detailed with future considerations. The embedded examples of site page and code add a richness and visual clarity to the discussion.
Yup... it's a keeper.

Good going, Wave team!