Embed Google Wave In Your Website...FINALLY!

Since the launch of Google Wave's preview, one of the major gripes was the fact that you needed to be invited in or have an account to participate in a Wave discussion.  At the beginning of the month, Google announced an embed API that allows you to embed a Wave into any website and select who can see it.  

It works very similar to acces inside of Wave so if you add only a few participants, they will be the only ones that can see the content.  However, if you make the wave public (hint: add public 'at' a.gwave.com) everyone will be able to see the wave's content.  Now that you can also control access (read/write), giving the public group (mentioned above) write access will allow anyone to log in with their wave login or login anonymously and participate.

How do you do it?  

  1. Go to your Google Wave account, do you remember what that is? :-) 
  2. Find the wave you want to embed and open it.  
  3. Copy the URL out of your browsers address bar.
  4. Go to the Google Web Elements site for Wave, paste in the URL and follow the instructions.
  5. Copy the embed code and paste it into your site! That's it! 

Below is the wave I took notes in at SolidWorks World 2010 for the SolidWorks 2011 sneak peak, enjoy! ~Lou

Notified By Google Wave?

This past week Google rolled out a few enhancements that I believe will bring this web-based collaborative tool back into focus for some. One of the biggest complaints of Google Wave was it was just another place to check for "stuff" online and without a notification mechanism, the service was not checked regularly. Depending on your preference, you can now specify how frequently you are notified of new Waves in your inbox.

I have been using a third party notification tool in my system tray in Windows called Wave Notifier for Windows and the Unofficial Wave Notifier for Mac, both of which are doing essentially the same thing without me having to look at my email. These solutions work well if they are installed but most people pushed Google Wave off after the first couple of weeks and never went back. Hopefully this is the beginning of features that Google adds to fill in the gaps for people who would like to have a powerful, web-based collaborative tool like Wave.

Wave Notification Setup:

- In Navigation (upper left) click on the Inbox and pull down the arrow icon (right)

- Select Notifications

- Choose notification frequency and email address. (screenshot)

You can add additional email address selections by adding them to your Google Profile associated with the Gmail address your Wave account is associated with.

Extensions Menu:

One of the many powers of Google Wave is it's extension architecture, allowing 3rd parties to build applications to verticals within the platform. This has been accessible since launch but required you to pick from a small subset of extensions within Google Wave's "Settings" wavelet or understand how to add the Developer Extension and plug in either an extensions XML URL or know the Manifest URL to add the extension to your toolbar. This made the functionality only interesting to techs/geeks but not for the user just wanting to use extensions. Google has finally brought the "Extensions" menu that has been in the developers sandbox for a while to the Navigation panel. Clicking on this will display a list of waves of different (more popular) extensions with the ability to get a brief summary and a one click install for that user.

I hope this is the beginning to many more features in Google Wave so a path can be set for this tool. I have started using this for many projects and would hate to see it die on the vine. This is a tool that can be used by engineers and product development to bring a collaborative aspect to every project but without stability and integration to existing tools it is just another silo! So I say with great enthusiasm...."Save Google Wave...Save Google Wave!"

SolidWorks World Live Notes in Wave

Unlike most services that were created to solve a specific problem/problems, Google Wave seems to be searching for a problem to solve. In the past few months I have been reading a multitude of sources to see how others have found problems to solve with Google Wave. This year at SolidWorks World, I have been taking notes with my friends and colleagues in order to ensure that the detail accuracy is high. Collaborative notes seems to be one of the many use cases that I think everyone could benefit from.

One of the major problems early on with a public-facing wave was the lack of control a wave creator had for access to the participants. Now that Google has rolled out the abiltiy to control Read/Write acess, now public waves can be controlled and the mess of too many editors can be avoided.

For those of you on Google Wave and want to get some of the notes you can go to the search and type in "with:public + tag:sww10" and see the waves I have started that are public. Finding the waves, as you can see, are not friendly but we are all engineers and so are the designers of Wave. Here are the short links for the waves I have started:

- SolidWorks World 2010 - What Sheet Metal Manufacturers Wish You Knew:

- SolidWorks World 2010 - 10 Administration Essentials for all SolidWorks Users:

- SWW10: SolidWorks 2011 Sneak Peak: (will be only on the notes for 2011 on Wednesday)

- SolidWorks World 2010 - SolidWorks Graphics Performance Analysis & Tuning:

There will be about 5 or 6 of us taking notes and you will all be able to see the notes come together live or come back after and see the results of our madness! ~Lou

Team Syncing with Google Wave

Back in May Google got major attention with this video from Google I/O that outlined Google's attempt to recreate communication via the Internet called Google Wave. Well 100's of 1000's of users are now playing around with this limited preview and I was very fortunate to get invited by a friend and wanted to share my thoughts early in my testing.

For those of you who didn't spend the 80 minutes watching the spot from Google I/O, Google Wave is a live collaborative environment that incorporates many of technologies we use everyday into one sandbox. Think of one place to email, instant message and create collaborative, topical conversation in a threaded live document in the cloud. Sounds too good to be true, huh? Well, it is early and like many new technologies or services, Google Wave is still in the "Geek Stage" so many of it's users are people who enjoy the bleeding edge. So I thought as a good measure of the general public's ability to understand Google Wave I would try to explain this to my wife who is simply a user of technology and really doesn't care how it works, just that it does. She nodded in agreement that it made sense but I still felt that even though it made sense she would probably not be the first one to jump on the Wave.

E-mail but Not:

Similar to email, Wave has an inbox, folders and even an indication that new activity has occurred, however there are some fundamental differences that make Wave a much better tool for communicating with a group of recipients. When trying to send a message in email to your team, you add them to the "To:" area and then you type the message, essentially sending a read-only document to them for review. When they reply, they must reply to everyone in the team in order to keep the conversation contiguous. The problem grows when you want to add people to this conversation.

Wave is different in the conversation is centralized and it's recipients gather around the content, keeping it in sync with everyone in the group while extending editing to everyone. This makes the conversation resemble that of face to face meetings while ensuring everyone leaves with notes! Ever compare notes after a roundtable meeting only to find someone wrote something down you forgot?

IM but Not:

Whether it is Skype, AOL, Yahoo, GTalk, or Live Messenger, instant messaging has become a very common communication tool within teams due to the real-time nature of these services unlike that of email. IM is still mostly a 1:1 real-time tool, allowing two parties to chat and even video conference on a whim. Group chat can also be a productive way to sync teams but sometimes that content is not captured and has limited content creation tools available.

Collaboration is enhanced further in Wave by also making editing real-time. If more than one individual is editing the wave, others in the wave can watch them edit and even type each character in the instant it is happening in the Wave. This essentially brings chat into the communication when it makes sense; within the working environment about the topic at hand.

Gadgets, Bots and Extensions:

One of the things that makes the platforms successful is their ability to be extended through community need and programming. If you look at successful platforms in technology today, Firefox, iPhone, most computer operating systems, they all have a common thread; extensibility through applications. Gadgets are essentially embedded apps that perform a multitude of services as a feature of the conversation. I tested a few of these: Google Maps (maps with collaborative markup), Trippy (trip planning), Napkin (napkin sketching) all which extend the platform for various collaborative specialties. I can imagine once this platform is out, this is an area that 3D might be able to take into account, building interactive 3D markup and viewing gadgets like eDrawings (hint hint SolidWorks!).

Bots, on the other hand, can be added to the wave, similar to a contact, and will perform various actions based on activities happening within the wave. I have used four to date, Tweety (integrated twitter client) and Bitly bot (integraded Bit.ly shortening for URLs, Notify (Email notification) and XMPP (IM notification). In the 80-minute video, Google shows one that does real-time language translation while multiple parties talk called Rosy.

The Verdict:

It is still very early but after using it for the past week I really don't ever want to use email again. I use Yammer as an internal "CB radio" to allow group chat, fact finding and short topic conversation. Other projects are buried in a number of local tools that are shared via email which is slow hard to keep in sync with everyone involved. I can imagine using this platform for all sorts of projects but see a future as a cloud-based platform for all sorts of industries to build in real-time collaborative extensions into tools like CAD, Simulation, PDM/PLM and the like. The point is, providing a platform like Google Wave that could make design teams more cohesive and in sync, the more efficient they become. ~Lou