Catching the Wave: the Nuts and Bolts

Okay, most of you probably don’t care so much about the open-source project. You want to know what this tool looks like, and how to use it. Here are the rough basics of the initial Google Wave client, for those who haven’t seen it yet.

This picture shows the typical layout of the Google Wave client:

A typical view of the current Google Wave client

A typical view of the current Google Wave client

There are four major pieces —

  • On the top left is the Navigation pane. This includes your Inbox — the list of waves that you’re involved with — as well as less-used groupings like your Trash, Spam and so on. It also has separate lists for saved Searches — lists of waves based on particular criteria like tags — and Folders. (Yes, Google has knuckled under and included Folders, which they’ve never done for Gmail. I believe this has to do with the way Tags work in Wave, which doesn’t let you use them quite the way you do in Gmail.)
  • The bottom left is your Contacts: the people you know in Wave. This can get a little subtle, but in general it works like you expect a contact list to work. It is integrated with your Gmail Contacts, but includes both “My Contacts” (the people you’ve expressly put on the list) and “All Contacts” (a wider group of people you’ve talked to), so it may appear larger than you expect.
  • The middle pane is a list of waves, and intentionally looks a lot like a normal email inbox. By default, this lists the conversations in your Inbox — the Inbox consists mainly of waves that you were invited into, or started, or include a group that you are in, plus other waves that you have read. But if you select another search or folder, it will show that instead of your Inbox. (This picture shows my waves with the tag “ArtOfConv”.)
  • Finally, the right-hand pane shows the currently-selected wave, in reading mode. You can switch over to editing mode instead; this looks almost the same, but replaces the toolbar (which currently shows buttons like “Reply” and “Playback”) with editing controls instead.

Those are the basics, as you will see them out of the box. There are some more bits and pieces that will show up sometimes — for example, pings show up in a “minimized” form along the top, or you can open multiple waves at once — but most of the time, you’ll probably be seeing it more or less like this.

Next: Sprechen sie Jargon; or, what do all these words mean?

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3 Responses to “Catching the Wave: the Nuts and Bolts”

  1. Catching the Wave: Prologue « The Art of Conversation Says:

    […] The Nuts and Bolts — a look at the UI […]

  2. Juniper Says:

    Hah. While I do care about the implementation as it stands, honestly, I care *more* about the OpenSource version, because I really want to be running one of these servers myself, for private projects that I don’t want in Google’s cloud – and which I want backed up better than their cloud supports. I suspect I have a year or so wait ahead of me, however.

    • Justin Says:

      You’re probably correct that it’ll be a year before the open source versions are reasonably ready for serious use. (Actually, my guess has been about 18 months.) But I agree: those are the higher priority for me as well — there are things I want to do involving the relationship of Wave and social networks that don’t seem to be high on Google’s priority list. I’m mildly involved in that open-source project, although the other new complexities in my life will probably cut into the time I was hoping to put on that.

      You *might* want to look into Novell Pulse, which I gather is coopetition for Wave — similar concept, plans for connectivity, but separate implementation and designed for enterprise use. I can think of any number of ways that that might not work for you, and don’t know much about it yet myself, but it’s probably worth a brief investigation…

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