Friday, May 29th, 2009

GWT team Wave’s goodbye to annoying question; It’s the API stupid

Category: Google

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“Why doesn’t Google use GWT more?”

That is a question that I was asked maaaany a time. There are sites like Base and the old mashup editor and others…. but “why not something big like Gmail?”

It was always so tough because it wasn’t a totally fair question.

  1. Google has some of the best Ajax hackers out there. Teams with that talent may not be the right people to use GWT!
  2. A lot of sites were written before GWT was created, and migrating something is a different proposition

Google Wave on the other hand, had the chance to really evaluate GWT and they went with it. There was a talk at Google I/O about why, and some of the cool new features they use such as runAsync that does some incredibly smart things to lazily load code when needed (and gives you a much smaller initial download).

I don’t have much to add to the massive coverage that Wave has gotten today. I see two pieces. The one that most people focus on is how it looks and what the site does. It is very rich, and cool, and some people will try it and some will not like how it feels.

That isn’t the piece I am most excited about. Although it is great to reboot what a communication tool could be in 2009, but I am much more excited about the APIs. A lot of servers and frameworks and languages are vying for the “real time Web server” trophy. What Wave gives you is a federated implementation AND a spec to build your own stuff. At its core I see it as a great way API to let people collaborate on a shared object. That is a fantastic building block.

When I heard about it, I immediately thought about my own world of Bespin of course. From the initial prototype we had the notion of creating a collaborative social experience with code. One feature that has long been on the drawing board can be seen here:

We want to tie chat/status/microblogging content to files and even code snippets in a project. Imagine being able to highlight some code and see not only who created it and when, but also what was discussed. The social bar on the right has some of that concept. Then down below you see the timeline view that lets you go back in time and see the code change before your eyes. Maybe you want to replay the coding that a coworker did while you were out instead of staring at the diffs? This is the kind of thing that I hope we can experiment with Wave to do. We will see!

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Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:24 am
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Don’t sell out to Google! Seriously I love most of Google’s stuff…but it makes me a little nervous when the stuff we use regularly and critically can only run on Google. I have a gmail account, but I can get an email account at Yahoo, Windows Live (shudder), my ISP or many other hosting companies. If we all move to Wave (or build our apps on Google Apps or Google Wave) what happens when our socialist-leaning government decides that it has better uses for Google’s information or processes? Sure Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil” and that’s good, but they are not the only juggernaut in town that can lay claim to our personal and business-critical computing!

This is why open-source is good. Until I can install Wave on my own box, I’ll just sit back and watch thanks.

Comment by tercero12 — May 29, 2009

My concern over this type of thing is the reliance on a third party for your own data. If you tie into Google too much then what do you do if Google suffers an outage for some reason? What do I tell my boss? That project isn’t done yet because Google is not responding and I have no freaking clue when they will?

I like the cloud concept but as long as I get to control my piece of the cloud on my server.

Comment by travisalmand — May 29, 2009

>>I don’t have much to add to the massive coverage that Wave has gotten today.

What massive coverage? This is the only place I’ve seen it today. For anyone else looking, http://wave.google.com/

Comment by Nosredna — May 29, 2009

@tercero12, @travisalmand – I thought the same thing at first, but if you watch the entire demo, they do say that they plan on open sourcing almost everything so that you can run it from your own box. It can connect to other instances on other servers too.

According to http://www.waveprotocol.org: “Yes, that’s between wave providers: anyone can build a wave server and interoperate, much like anyone can run their own SMTP server. The wave protocol is open to contributions by the broader community with the goal to continue to improve how we share information, together.”

I mean, we’ll see what happens for real when it launches, but thats the claim.

Comment by genericallyloud — May 29, 2009

@genericallyloud – That’s what I needed to hear. I didn’t have time to watch the whole video. This does make me excited indeed. Thanks!

Comment by tercero12 — May 29, 2009

I’m curious about the Comet support of this application… It seems to be the famous Websocket HTML 5 with streaming not long polling.

However, such technology requires a lot of power on the server’s side. Google is probably also using sophisticated compression techniques.

GWT + Comet is the future of the Web…

Comment by HommeDeJava — May 29, 2009

@homme – ah, if my consultancy could just make money from such frivolous sooth-saying :D

Comment by sixtyseconds — June 2, 2009

The fact that they used GWT was surprising to me. I just haven’t been able to trust any of the abstraction layers that completely hide javascript. Anyone know if any other major ajax applications are using gwt?

Aside: I really enjoy reading comments from people who don’t have the time to watch a presentation on the technology that they are about to tell people not to use. Adds so much to the conversation.

Comment by waw325 — June 2, 2009

@waw325: GWT actually doesn’t try to hide javascript unless you want it to; there’s a continuum all the way down. You can use JSNI to implement Java native methods using handwritten JavaScript, and you can create JavaScript overlay types that map JS types onto Java classes, including the W3C DOM types. Wave uses both of these features. In other words, they use GWT for productivity and optimizations, not as a way to escape a deep understanding of the browser. When js/dom/html/css experts use GWT, the results are particularly good.

Comment by bruceAtGoogle — June 3, 2009

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