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Google Wave Tips and Help

Google Wave Users Manuel

Google Wave is a new online communications tool that enables groups of people to edit and discuss documents simultaneously on the web. The Google Wave team says Wave is “what email would look like if it were invented today.” However, because Wave is mostly a document collaboration tool, the oversimplified email metaphor can mislead new users. The initial Wave experience can feel chaotic and confusing, but use cases for Wave abound. Come on in and meet Wave.

Modernizing Email

Relative to the lifespan of most technology, email is ancient. Invented over 40 years ago, email predates the INTERNET as we know it—and in fact was a crucial tool in the creation of the internet. Despite its age, email hasn’t evolved much since the 1960s. Electronic mail is based on the paradigm of postal mail, a system of passing messages back and forth between senders and recipients. Wave makes a bet: that surely there must be a better way to send, receive, preserve, and grow shared communiqués than via email.

Email’s Problems

Email is simple, wildly popular, and works well—or else it wouldn’t have stayed in such widespread use as long as it has. But email has serious drawbacks when using it to manage a conversation within a group.

Email propagates multiple copies and versions of messages. As soon as email is sent, the message’s contents are locked in. It can only be copied, pasted, and sent on. For example, Martin types an email message, addresses it to Zoe, and sends it. A copy of that message stays in Martin ‘s sent box, and another copy appears in Zoe’s inbox. Zoe replies and optionally includes a copy of the original message in her response. A copy stays in her sent box, and yet another copy appears in Martin inbox. Martin replies to Zoe’s reply, cc’s: Wash, and sends it. The Send button gets pushed only three times, yet seven copies of the same message appear in differing states for three people—each of them a dead, lifeless version of another. Email propagates copies of copies, storing each in a rudimentary filing system of “boxes.” Email was designed as a system of notification, not collaboration. Given that email was designed to imitate “snail mail”—where the ultimate destination was either the circular file or a filing cabinet—letters sent via email seemed destined for cold storage, not the cauldron of innovative workspaces.

You can’t embed rich content like maps, photo slide shows, or video clips in the body of an email. Email’s answer for anything that’s not text is “The Attachment.” Whether it’s a document, a photo, a video, a group survey, or a web page, email wasn’t designed to incorporate interactivity or richness within the body of the message itself. You can include a link to a web page inside email, but sometimes those break or become unclickable, and they force the recipient out of your email and into a browser. While some email clients like Gmail or Microsoft Outlook can display rich message formatting with images and colors, or display attached files inline, there’s no consistency. No one’s email always looks the same.

To reply to a subsection of an email, you have to quote that section manually. Martin sends Wash an email telling him about the engine upgrade project she’s working on, then asks where the nearest place to stop for parts is, and how long it will take to get there. An email message is just a flat document, so it’s not easy for Wash to respond to each question Martin has asked in a readable order. He could reply to her message and manually copy and paste just her questions and position his answers directly after them. But that’s a lot of work—and most people don’t do it. Often questions and individual points that need addressing via email get lost because there’s no easy way to reply to a specific section of a message.

It’s not easy to privately respond to specific people within a group email. When the group finally does stop for parts, Badger emails them asking for a cargo drop-off. Zoe wants to ask the crew how they should negotiate payment. She can’t reply to all because Badger will see it, so she has to manually edit the recipient list on the private email and create yet another copy of the message.

Since email’s invention in the 1960s, the internet and then the World Wide Web was born, which gave everyone an instant electronic printing press. In the early days, web sites were just static documents that didn’t change. As the web grew and the technology behind it progressed, web sites became interactive, ever-changing hosted applications, where you could store and update information, communicate with others, chat in real-time, and even check and send email. In a world where broadband is widely available and you can use blogs, Wikipedia, instant messenger, and hosted web applications that obviate the need for any software on your computer besides a web browser, email looks even more ancient.

While in practice Google Wave isn’t a direct replacement for email, understanding email’s problems given the capabilities of the modern web is a good starter framework for understanding what Google Wave can do.

Wave’s Solution: Conversations as Live Documents

Rather than pass back and forth multiple copies of messages, Google Wave hosts a single copy of a conversation that all participants can edit and add to. Wave displays the latest version of the conversation to everyone in the group in real-time, even as it’s changing. That means if Jack has the wave he sent Jill open on his computer in California, and Jill is typing her responses in New York, Jack sees the wave change keystroke by keystroke.

Clarification: Capital ‘W’ Wave refers to the whole product, Google Wave. Lowercase ‘w’ wave refers to a hosted conversation that has one or more participants.

Google Wave treats an email conversation with multiple recipients and senders as a document with multiple editors and writers. If you can make the conversations-as-documents and documents-as-conversations leap along with Wave, the system makes 100% more sense.

Quote: “The goal of Google Wave is to collaborate INSIDE email rather than using email to ARRANGE to collaborate.” —Wave user Marsh Gardiner[2]

In other, smaller ways, Google Wave addresses the rest of the problems with email listed above. Using Google Wave, all the participants in a conversation have the ability to: Reply to a subset of a wave inline Add rich interactive media like videos, images, maps, and polls in-wave Play back and copy earlier versions of a wave, so that you can revert to an older state of a given wave, or see how it changed over time

In theory, Wave is a big upgrade to email and document collaboration tools. The following table sums up the difference between “The Email Way” and “The Wave Way.”

The Email Way                                                   The Wave Way

People Sender or Recipient                                        Participant

Messages Copies Single,                                                   hosted conversation

Rich Content Attachments                                                      Inline gadgets

Quoting/commenting Manual                                                                 Forum-like threading

Privacy     CC, BCC Inline,                                                                   private threads

Wave sounds great in theory, right? In practice, Wave introduces complexities that put off new users.

Wave’s Downfall: A Universally Confusing Initial User Experience

Google Wave’s biggest downfall is how confusing it can be for new users when they try it out. Parody web site [3] jokes that heady topics like radiocarbon dating, neoclassical economics, and polymodal chromaticism are easier to understand than Wave. The joke rings true because the initial Wave confusion is a nearly universal experience. The first waves you’re bound to receive from your friends and co-workers, fresh on Wave, will say things like “I don’t get it” and “This is weird.”

There are a few good reasons for the initial confusion.

Conversation-as-document is a whole new paradigm with no existing precedent. For most computer users, editing a Microsoft Word document and instant messaging are two very different activities. Google Wave fundamentally conflates messaging and document editing, so there’s no obvious existing parallel for what you do in Wave to what you do now. It’s not quite email, and it’s not quite writing a Word document. Google Wave is both and neither, which can make it difficult to understand or place into your existing workflow.

Conversation trees, or non-linear message threads, are chaotic. Forums, blog comments, email threads, and instant messaging sessions are all linear conversations, where the newest message appears at the bottom (or top) of the list. You read them in one direction, one after the other. Google Wave’s inline reply capability turns a conversation into a tree that can grow any number of branches. When wave participants add new information to a wave on different branches at different times, the non-linear nature of the discussion can be overwhelming and feel unnatural.

Document versioning is foreign (to non-programmers). Software developers have been using file versioning tools like the one built into Google Wave for decades now. But most computer users don’t version their files or use a feature like Wave’s playback in any other context, so the need for it isn’t obvious.

Wave isn’t done yet, so it has huge gaping holes of missing functionality. Basic functionality that you’d expect from a messaging and document editing platform are currently missing in Wave, which makes it seem less useful than doing those things “the old way.” For more on what’s missing and what’s to come, see Chapter 10, What Wave Can’t Do.

The confusing initial Wave experience may thwart its adoption. Wave’s whiz-bang features are impressive, but may not be practical. Whether Wave actually gets adopted as widely as email or remains relegated to niche use like the Segway remains to be seen. But plenty of people want in on the Wave preview, prepared with plenty of ideas about how they’ll use it.

The Story Behind Wave’s Name

Google didn’t choose Wave’s name for the reason you might assume—as a play on the idea of surfing the web. Its engineers were paying homage to writer and director Joss Whedon’s brief but well-loved science fiction TV series, Firefly (2002-2003) , and its follow-up film, Serenity (2005) . In the Firefly/Serenity universe, characters send textual communications by “wave.” References to waves appear throughout the series and include lines such as “that’s why I waved you,” “just got a wave,” “I can send him a wave,” and “I read your wave.”

In Google Wave’s preview release, two different error messages draw from lines from the Serenity movie: “Everything’s shiny, Cap’n. Not to fret!” and “This wave is experiencing some slight turbulence, and may explode.” During Wave’s unveiling at the Google I/O conference in May of 2009, the demonstration script contained several subtle but clear references to Firefly and Serenity.

In our own homage to both Firefly and the folks who built Wave, we’ll use the Firefly universe as our go-to when discussing examples throughout the book. However, Google Wave’s Firefly references are an in-joke. Wave will be best known for its attempt to upgrade email.

Federated and Open Source: How Wave is Not Proprietary to Google

No one owns email. Therefore, the idea of moving your messages to Google Wave might feel like you’re giving the search giant a monopoly on your communication. Email is a protocol that’s unaffiliated with any particular company or organization. But even though it’s continually referred to as “Google Wave” instead of just “Wave,” Wave is not proprietary to Google. Like email, Wave consists of several parts: a protocol, a server, and a client. The protocol itself is an open standard, created by but not beholden to Google, and free to all software developers to make products that utilize it.

Therefore, if Wave usage catches on, more Wave server and client software from many different companies and organizations may become available in the future—like web browsers and email programs did. The Wave protocol is federated and does not centralize all information on Google’s servers [14]; like email, users on different Wave servers hosted at different companies will be able to communicate with each other using Wave, independent of Google.

In Wave’s preview release, it is not yet possible to send waves between different servers. However, the server federation is a core part of the product’s foundation and will definitely come to fruition.

Now that you know the impetus for Wave’s development, it’s time to Get Started with Wave.

Get Started with Wave

Now that you know what Wave is, it’s time to take it out for a spin. The first release of Google Wave is a limited access, invitation-only preview. If you haven’t used Wave yet, this chapter covers how to get an invitation to the Wave preview, set up your new Wave account, find your way around Wave, and create your first wave. Learn the three different ways to update or edit a wave, and find public waves to participate in.

Get ready to start making waves

Get an Invitation to the Wave Preview

The Google Wave preview is not open to the public. It’s accessible only to people who have received an email invitation to try out the system, so new users interested in Wave can’t just go the the Wave homepage and register for an account. If you haven’t been invited to Wave already, there are a couple of ways to get the golden ticket.

If Someone You Know is Already Using Wave

Google handed out over 100,000 invitations to the Wave preview on September 30th, 2009 via email to users who had expressed interest in trying it. Each person invited in the initial round also received eight invitation “nominations” to share with their own contacts. If someone you know is already using Wave and still has unused nominations, that person is your best bet. Ask her to nominate you for an invitation by entering your email address onto her nominated invitee list. Note that the invitation won’t come instantly—it could take anywhere from a day to a few weeks. Google is working its way through the nomination queue at a rate that keeps pace with the Wave preview’s server capacity. However, a nomination from an existing Wave user is the speediest way to obtain an invitation.

If You Don’t Know Anyone Using Wave

If you don’t know anyone already using Wave who can nominate you, you’re still not entirely out of luck. You can request an invitation directly from Google at their aptly-named Request for invitation to Google Wave signup page. Slowly but surely the people who express interest in trying Wave are getting invited in. But don’t wait. The hype surrounding Wave is growing by the day, so the sooner you request an invitation, the better.

Get to Know the Lay of the Land

Once you’ve snagged an invitation to Wave, you’re ready to register, log in, and go for a ride. Here are a few important details worth knowing before you jump in.

Your Google Wave ID Is Not an Email Address

When you register for your account at, you use your Google account credentials—i.e., your or email address—to claim your new Wave ID. However, your Wave ID will be something like Even though your ID looks like an email address, it’s not: you can’t receive or send email from or to that ID. People can only wave you using that address.

The Anatomy of the Wave Client

Now that you’ve registered, it’s time to log into Wave and get your first glimpse of the Wave client. The default Wave view is a three-column, four-panel layout. From left to right, the first column includes the Navigation panel on top (like Gmail’s sidebar with links to your Inbox, Sent, and labels) and Contacts panel below it (like your Gmail Chat buddy list). The second column is the Search panel, which contains a list of active waves in your Inbox by default. The third column is where you can start a new wave or open an existing wave.

When a panel’s contents are long enough to require it, the panel gets a scrollbar on its right side that’s a little different than the scrollbars you might be used to.  To use the scrollbar, click its up or down arrow to move it, or click and drag the entire scrollbar to scroll.

The Anatomy of a Wave

The Wave client layout isn’t that much different than a three-column email client. However, an individual wave is much different than an email message. Waves have more structural elements than flat email messages do, so there are new terms to describe them. We’ll use this terminology throughout the book, so it’s important to understand what the different elements of a wave are called from the get-go.

Reminder: Capital ‘W’ Wave refers either to the Wave protocol or the Wave client (i.e., Google Wave). Lowercase ‘w’ wave refers to a hosted, threaded conversation that has one or more participants.

A wave is made up of distinct, threaded conversations known as wavelets. Participants can create multiple conversation threads within a wave, so a single wave can contain several wavelets. Each wavelet, in turn, is made up of a several distinct messages called blips. When you select a single blip, Wave outlines it in green. Blips are like a single message in the midst of an email thread in Gmail, except blips are editable by any participant in a wave.

The wave contains two wavelets. The first wavelet has five participants and three blips; the second has only two participants and two blips. (The second wavelet has only two participants because one initiated a private conversation with the other to plan to “bail” on the rest of the group without hurting their feelings.) When you click the New Wave link or button, you’re creating a wave that contains a single wavelet with a single blip, to which you can add content.

Make Your First Wave

Wave is fundamentally a document collaboration tool, so it’s not very fun or useful if you’ve got no one to wave. Chances are that whoever invited you to the Wave preview appears in your Wave contacts list when you log in, so that person’s a good first person to wave. Otherwise, you can try out Wave by participating in public waves.

If One of Your Contacts is Already on Wave

Wave uses your regular Google account’s contacts list, so if any of your existing Google contacts is also using Wave, those people automatically show up in your Wave contact list.  If you don’t have any contacts using Wave—that is, your Contacts panel is empty—you can still test out Wave.

If one of your contacts is already in Wave, you wave with that contact in a couple of ways:

Click the New Wave button at the top-left corner of the Search panel, or click the New Wave link in the third column of the Wave client. Wave opens a new, empty wave in the third column. Type in your first message and click Done. Once you do, Wave prompts you to add participants with a drop-down contacts menu. (This same menu displays any time you click the + (plus) button on the top of a new wave.) Click a contact to add him or her to the wave.

Alternately, in the Contacts panel, click a contact’s icon, then click the New Wave button on their profile panel. Type your message, then click Done.

Once your new wave has another participant, you can see that person’s icon in the light blue area near your icon at the top of the wave. That wave appears in the participants’ Inbox(es) the moment you add them to the wave (even if you haven’t typed a message yet). Once you start typing, other participants can enter and update the wave at the same time. Congrats, you’re waving!

Quote: “I keep pushing the New Wave button, but it never plays Depeche Mode or The Cure.”—Wave user Andy Baio[4]

Even after your wave conversation and updates are well underway, you can add any new contact to it at any time—again in a couple of ways. Let’s say you’ve already started a wave with Mal, but you realized halfway through that Inara might have something to add to the conversation. Make sure the wave you want to add a contact to is open, then either:

Click the + (plus) button on the top-left of the open wave and simply search for the contact you want to add. Wave auto completes your contact search results as you type, so once it finds the person you’re looking for, you can either hit Enter to add that person to the wave or click the contact with your mouse.

Drag and drop anyone from the Contacts panel over to your open wave to add him or her to the conversation.

Remember, your ability to add contacts to a wave at any point in your conversation is one of the great perks of Wave. If this were an email, you’d need to CC a new contact to pull someone new into a conversation, then they’d have to piece together the conversation from the bottom up like some sort of esoteric puzzle. With Wave, the conversation is all laid out for your new contact, and she can even play back the wave from the beginning to catch up. (See Dive Deeper into Wave for more on Wave’s playback feature.)

If None of Your Contacts are on Wave

Google Wave is in a limited, invitation-only preview, so there’s a good chance that the first time you log into Wave you won’t have any contacts to wave, or the person who invited you isn’t online and the wave you create seems just like a sent email. Using Wave is the best way to understand how it works, so even if you don’t have anyone in your Contacts list to wave real-time, you can still find and participate in public waves live any time of day or night.

Type the special query with:public into the Wave search box (located at the top of the Search panel) and press Enter to find public waves that everyone on the server can see and participate in. This results in a dense, moving sea of public waves that are updating in real-time, right in your Search panel. If you see a wave that looks interesting, click it to join in. It opens in the third column. (You should know, though: when you open a public wave, you get added to that wave’s list of users, which means that wave shows up in your Inbox.) The with:public query returns a firehose of constantly-updating waves, and while it’s interesting to watch, you’ll have better luck finding a public wave you’re interested in participating in by adding a keyword to your public search, like with:public Firefly. (See more details on how to narrow your wave search results in Chapter 4, Find and Organize Waves.)


Figure 2-5. Find public conversations using the with:public search.


Once you start waving in real-time with other participants, you can’t ignore Wave’s most eye-popping feature: its ability to display multiple participants’ cursors working live and in real-time on a given wave. You’ll also notice comfortable similarities between how Wave works and how your current email and instant messenger tools work.


The Initial Wave Experience

Most people’s first reaction to Wave’s real-time updating capabilities is somewhere along the lines of, “Whoah!” Watching multiple people type into a wave, live on your screen, is an exciting, new, and sometimes disorienting experience. Not only does an individual wave update before your eyes, your Inbox shifts as the waves in it change. Also, the most common first use of Wave isn’t document collaboration—it’s chat.

Watch Multiple Cursors Type into the Same Wave

The first time you’re reading or adding content to a wave at the same time one of your contacts is editing that wave, something interesting will catch your eye: Wave displays a participant’s changes to that wave in real-time, keystroke by keystroke. Within the blip, a colored cursor, labeled with the owner’s name, moves through the text as that person types, as shown in Figure 2-6. Wave can show more than one cursor working within a given wave as well. Wherever you see this cursor on your screen is exactly where that user’s cursor is on his screen. Active waves with lots of participants are a spectacle to watch, with multi-colored names typing text before your eyes, live.

Figure 2-6. When someone else is editing a blip, you can watch their cursor move around in real-time as they type.

Watching multiple peoples’ cursors work on a single document at the same time is a new experience for most people. As you type, you may feel self-conscious knowing that your contacts can see your every typo in real-time. It’s interesting to watch someone’s thought process unwind as they type in a conversation; it can also be a time-sucking distraction to see every keystroke as it comes over the wire, versus receiving a finished chunk of text in one shot. Most importantly, seeing cursors update live helps you avoid stepping on other participants’ toes while you collaborate on a single blip. For example, if you’re working on a document with coworkers for a big presentation at work, you don’t have to deal with frustrating workplace servers and document locking that restricts editing to one user at a time. In Wave, you can edit a document at the same time as any collaborator because that document is a single, hosted conversation, and you can see what your collaborator is editing by simply looking out for their cursor.

Quote: “A wave is a living thing, with participants communicating and modifying the wave in real-time.”—Google Wave API documentation[5]

Live, multi-user documenting-editing is a feature that may be familiar to programmers who’ve used a special breed of collaborative text editors, but for most of us it’s completely new, novel, and, yes, sometimes a little scary. If you never get used to the idea that someone may be watching you type—or you occasionally want the privacy of drafting a blip without someone looking over your metaphorical shoulder—Wave offers a Draft checkbox next to the Done button on every blip. Currently the Draft checkbox isn’t available for use. But when Wave drafts are available, ticking that checkbox will let you complete typing a blip in private rather than displaying every keystroke as it happens. (Draft mode is one of many feature that aren’t yet available in Wave. See Appendix A, What Wave Can’t Do, for more on missing and upcoming functionality in Wave.)

New Message Notifications and Your Wave Inbox

Like an email client, Wave notifies you of new blips and changes in waves. In your Inbox, waves that have changed since you last looked at them display the blip subject and timestamp in bold text. It also highlights the number of changed, unread blips in green.

When you open that wave, you can identify unread or changed blips by looking for the vertical green bar to the left of the blip. Click an unread blip to mark it as read, and the green bar fades away and the unread count changes in your Inbox or Search panel.


Figure 2-7. Unread waves are indicated in the Search panel by bold text and a green callout displaying how many blips are new or have changed. Inside a wave, a green line to the left of a blip indicates that it’s new or has been edited.

Wave as Instant Messenger

At first, Wave can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to understand it as a type of tool you already know—such as email, a document collaboration tool, or instant messenger. Wave combines features from all three of those types of tools. During your first few Wave sessions, most likely you’ll use Wave like an instant messenger—particularly if you start a Wave with another contact who’s also online. You compose a blip, someone else replies, and pretty soon the conversation you’ve started feels like a familiar, linear, IM conversation. It’s only natural that you’d use Wave like it’s an instant messenger when you’re first getting started, but you’re only scratching the surface.

On the other hand, if you’re sending messages to contacts who aren’t currently online and actively participating in the wave, Wave starts to feel a lot like email—especially if everyone replies to every blip directly after it, in a straight line. What you’ll find, however, is that the more comfortable you get with different methods of replying to and editing content in a wave, the better you’ll understand how Wave is different from email and instant messaging.

Three Different Ways to Update a Wave

You can update a wave in three different ways, and the method you choose varies depending on context. Sometimes you’ll want to reply directly beneath a blip in response to that blip; other times, when you want to reply to a single section of a particularly long blip, you’ll want to reply to text inside a blip; finally, if you’re collaborating on the contents of a single blip, for example, you’ll just edit it directly.

Reply Below a Blip

Whether you’re riding a wave with a friend or you’ve found a public wave to participate in, take a moment and read through the wave you’ve joined up with. See a blip you’d like to reply to? Hover your cursor over the bottom edge of any blip and a thin blue box with a blue arrow pointing down on the left appears. Click that box to reply to that individual blip. When you’re done, just click the Done button.

You can reply this way below any blip, regardless of where it is in the flow of the wave. A lot of the time you’ll reply to the most recent blip at the end of a wave, but if you reply to a blip in the middle of a wave, Wave displays your reply nested between the blips before and after it.

Figure 2-8. You can reply to any blip by mousing over the bottom of it and clicking the blue box. If you reply to a blip further up in the conversation, it displays as a nested blip.

Reply Inline within a Blip

One of the more powerful features of Wave—and one that sets it apart from email—is that you can easily reply inline to any piece of text within a blip. Say for example that Kaylee has composed a long, 10-point argument detailing why she thinks Mal should pony up to buy a new catalyzer for the ship’s engine. Rather than reading through the entire essay and replying to each point in another long, flat response, Mal can reply inline to any piece of text in Kaylee’s original blip. To reply to text inline, double-click the last word in the section of text you want to reply to. Wave displays a small box next to the highlighted text with Reply and Edit links. Click Reply and Wave inserts a nested, inline blip exactly where the reply should be—next to the text it’s referring to.

The official Wave documentation claims you should select the text you want to reply to and then double-click the selection,[6], but that’s not quite accurate. If you select text and then double-click the selection, you’re actually just highlighting the word you double-click, and Wave sets the cursor at the end of the word you double-clicked instead of at the end of your text selection. So skip the whole selection bit and just double-click the last word in the section of text you want to reply to.

Figure 2-9. Reply to specific pieces of text within a blip.

Edit the Existing Content of a Blip

What separates Wave from email even more than inline replies is that anyone can edit any part of a wave. You may have started a blip, but any participant on a wave can join in and edit any of the text you’ve written. You can edit the text of a blip in two ways:

Click the small triangle icon next to the timestamp on the upper right corner of a blip and click Edit this message. Wave makes that blip editable and you can add your own text. (Note: You can also edit your own blips this way.) Alternately, you can highlight text—like you did when you were replying inline—but instead of clicking Reply, click the Edit button. The only real difference between starting your edit using the highlighting method rather than the method above is that when you click Edit, Wave places your cursor directly at the end of the text you highlighted.

Figure 2-10. You can edit a blip at any time by selecting Edit this message from the drop-down menu next to a message’s time stamp—whether you initially wrote it or not.

Unlike other methods of participating in a wave, editing the existing content of a blip does not create a new blip. There’s no outline of your text, no username displaying what text you added, and no special indentation showing an inline reply. Still, you can always tell when more than one person has edited a blip by looking at the top of the blip. Wave displays the avatar and name of every user who’s edited that blip.

The Best Browsers to Access Wave

The advantage of using a web application to communicate is that you don’t have to install any software—you can access it from any browser. However, with Wave, there are some caveats. Wave uses recently developed web standards, such as HTML5, to perform a lot of its behind-the-scenes magic. That means Wave provides a richer experience than you’d expect from a lot of web applications, but it also means you need to use a modern browser with full support for HTML5 to use Wave. Wave-compatible web browsers include: Google Chrome, Firefox 3.5+, Safari 4

To get the richest Wave experience possible in supported non-Google browsers (i.e., Firefox and Safari), you should also install the Google Gears plug-in.[10] When installed, Gears enables features like drag-and-drop image and file uploads from your desktop to your wave. (Google Chrome ships with Gears already installed.)

Chrome Frame in Internet Explorer

Take a quick look at the list of Wave-compatible web browsers. Notice anything strange? The most commonly used web browser on the planet, Internet Explorer, doesn’t have native HTML5 support, so it can’t run Wave properly.

What do you do if you’re in a restricted environment where Internet Explorer is your only option? Google has released an open-source browser plug-in for IE called Google Chrome Frame.[11] Chrome Frame puts Chrome’s page rendering technology and JavaScript engine inside IE to run Wave and other HTML5 web applications. Chrome Frame won’t kick in on every web site you visit. Web developers have the option to embed a piece of code in web pages that tells Chrome Frame to take over for IE—and that’s exactly what Wave’s developers have done.

Figure 2-11. Wave prompts Internet Explorer users to install Google Chrome Frame to access Wave.

If you visit the Wave site using IE, you are encouraged to use another browser that supports HTML5, or to install the Google Chrome Frame plug-in for IE. It is a free download, but you need rights to install it on your computer, which may rule out some locked-down, corporate workstations.


Wave on Your Mobile Device

Figure 2-12. When you run the Wave client on your iPhone, Wave removes all traces of Mobile Safari to give you a fullscreen experience.

Any communication tool worth its salt needs to be accessible on mobile devices, including Wave. Happily, even at this early stage with its stringent browser requirements, Wave offers a compact, touchscreen-friendly mobile version that mostly works in current modern mobile browsers, including the default browsers on the iPhone, iPod touch, and Android devices.

For example, when you first visit Wave in Mobile Safari on the iPhone, a warning appears telling you that your browser isn’t supported. However, if you tap on the “go ahead” link, not only does Wave load, it loads fullscreen, without any of Safari’s interface visible.[12] If you add a Wave bookmark to your homescreen, every time you launch Wave it also loads fullscreen, like a standalone application.

Wave also loads in Android’s built-in web browser after you tap the “go ahead” link. But be warned: when Wave tells you your browser isn’t supported and you click “go ahead” anyway, there’s a risk that certain waves won’t open or that they will misbehave.

Wave Site-Specific Browsers

Site-specific browsers (or SSBs) [13] are special web browsers built to run single web applications.

Waveboard[14] for Mac is one such SSB for Google Wave that offers Wave integration to your Mac desktop with a dedicated icon, unread wave counts on the Dock, and Growl notifications. Waveboard is currently in beta and requires Google Gears. (Because Google Gears is compatible only with Mac OS 10.5 as of this writing, 10.6 users need an unofficial Gears build.)

Similarly, Waver,[15] an SSB that runs anywhere Adobe AIR does (Windows and Mac), puts the mobile version of Wave into a separate window on your desktop.

You’ve created your first wave, and you know how to contribute to a wave. Now it’s time to beef up your Wave contacts list and set up your Wave profile to make more collaborative magic happen. Head into Chapter 3, Manage Your Wave Contacts, for more on finding and contacting people on Wave.

Manage Your Wave Contacts

A collaboration tool like Wave is only as good as the collaborators using it with you. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to manage your Wave contacts.

The Contacts panel is but a small element on the bottom left of the Wave client, but it holds the key to what makes Wave go: people. You know how to make waves, but the magic happens when others participate in them with you. As Wave rolls out to more people—including your friends, family, and co-workers—you’ll want to add them to your waves. Here’s how to set up your Wave profile, and add, remove, and contact people you want to communicate with on Wave. Contents [hide]

Add and Remove Contacts to Wave

Your Wave Contact list is a subset of your Google account’s existing Contacts list. Anyone who signs up for Wave using a Google account that’s already on your Gmail contact list shows up in your Wave Contacts panel automatically. You can also add and remove people from your Wave Contacts list by hand.

Add Someone to Your Wave Contact List

You can add people to your Wave Contacts list only if they already have a Wave account. During the invitation-only Wave preview, that’s a limited number of people. If someone you know has a Wave ID, you can add him or her to your Wave Contact list in several ways,[1] depending on the context:

Inside a wave: If you’ve joined a wave with someone who isn’t currently one of your contacts, adding them as a contact is simple. Just click the contact’s icon displayed at the top of the wave and then click the Add to contacts button displayed in the Contact profile pop-up. Your new contact instantly joins the top of your Contacts list.

Figure 3-1. Add a wave’s participant to your Contacts list by clicking that contact’s icon and then clicking the Add to contacts button.

From the Contacts panel: There are two methods for adding a new Wave contact from the Contacts panel on the bottom left of the Wave client. Both require that you know the Gmail address or Wave ID of the person you’d like to add. (Either works, as Wave automatically recognizes and converts Gmail addresses to Google Wave IDs—e.g., becomes

If you enter the ID of your desired contact directly into the Contacts search box, Wave informs you that the contact could not be found (among your current contacts), then asks you if you’d like to add that user to your Contacts list. Click the Add to contacts button and you’re set.

Alternately, click the + (plus) button in the lower-right corner of the Contacts panel to launch the Add a new contact pop-up. Again, just enter the Gmail address or Wave ID of the user you want to add, and—assuming that person has a Wave account—it asks you to confirm that you’d like to add that user to your contacts. Click Submit to confirm.

Figure 3-2. If you already know someone’s Gmail address or Wave ID, you can add that person as a contact from the Contacts panel.

From your Google Contacts manager: As we mentioned above, Wave automatically pulls in contacts from your Google account, which means that every one of your Gmail contacts that’s also using Wave appears in your Wave Contacts list automatically. It also means that you can manage your Wave contacts through the Google Contacts interface.[2]

Figure 3-3. You can add a new contact or edit existing contacts’ information in Google Contacts.

Click the Manage contacts link at the bottom of the Contacts panel to access Google Contacts. There you can add a new contact by clicking the + (plus) button in the top left corner of the page. Google Contacts opens a New Contact form, where you can add your new Wave contact’s name and Gmail address or Wave ID, along with additional contact information like phone number, address, birthday, and more, as shown in Figure 3-3.

You can also edit information for any of your contacts in Google Contacts[3] by searching for the user in question, opening their information panel, and adding or removing any bits of info you like.

Remove Someone from Your Wave Contact List

If you’ve decided, for whatever reason, that you want to remove someone from your Wave Contacts list, here’s how to do it:

Click the Manage contacts link at the bottom of the Contacts panel, which opens Google Contacts in a new window. Find the contact you want to remove by either entering the contact’s name or Google username (his username is the “you” portion of the address) into the Google Contacts search box. Once you’ve found the contact you’re looking for, click that contact’s name in the middle column of Google Contacts to display his contact information. Click the Delete contact button on the far right of the contact information panel, as shown in Figure 3-4.

Figure 3-4. Permanently remove a contact from your Wave Contacts list by deleting that contact in Google Contacts.

Keep in mind that Google Contacts is the central contact management tool for all Google applications associated with your Google account, so removing a Wave contact using Google Contacts also removes that contact from every Google application you use, from Gmail and Picasa to Google Voice and Chat.

Remove a Participant from an Individual Wave

It’s not difficult to accidentally add a contact to a wave that you hadn’t meant to include her on. Chances are your boss isn’t interested in joining a wave with your friends in which you’re discussing where to go out this weekend, for example, and you’ll want to remove her the minute you realize the mistake. If you were composing an email, you’d simply remove the accidental contact addition before you sent the email, but because Wave is so different from email, removing a contact has larger implications.

Removing your boss from the wave you hadn’t meant to include her on is innocent enough, but you wouldn’t want just anyone to be able to kick you off any wave on a whim. Remember, Wave doesn’t propagate copies of every blip the same way email copies every message; a wave is a single, collaboratively edited document, so if you were removed from a wave, it would, in theory, completely disappear from your Inbox or archive of read waves.

This presents a bit of a problem, and frankly, it’s one that the Wave team has yet to address. Within a wave with several participants, you can have a private conversation with one or more participants inline (see Chapter 5, Dive Deeper into Wave for more). You can also copy a wave into a fresh wave to which you can add (or not add) whomever you like. However, currently there is no way to remove a contact from a wave once she has been added—with the exception of bots. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we’ll discuss bots more in Chapter 8, Wave Bots.

Ping a Contact

Sometimes you want to initiate a quick back-and-forth with a contact, especially if you can see she’s online. In the pre-Wave world, you’d use instant messenger to do that. Sure, every piece of communication in Wave is real-time, but you don’t want to compose a full-on wave to ask someone a quick question. Further, the pop-up notification of a new instant messenger session is still a useful mechanism for getting a contact’s attention. That’s where Wave’s ping feature comes in.

A ping is the easiest way to start a quick exchange with one or more Wave contacts.[4] You compose your ping’s message in a smaller, chat-like window (unlike full-on waves). Much like IM, a new ping pops up and flashes its contents on its recipients’ screens and browser tabs.

To get someone’s attention in Wave with a ping, click his name in the Contacts panel to open his Contact information pop-up. Then, click the Ping User button (where “User” displays that contact’s name).

The ping panel appears near the top of your window pulled down with enough room for you to type a short ping message. The ping panel is minimized to the top of your recipient’s Wave client, but it flashes green to indicate an active, incoming ping. The text of your ping also flashes in your recipient’s browser tab.

Apart from its location and smaller size, a ping looks—and acts—like a regular wave. If your contact is offline when you ping him, Wave displays that flashing, minimized ping to him the next time he logs in.

Figure 3-5. Quickly start a wave with other participants by pinging them.

While you’re chatting back and forth with a contact in a ping, the conversation stays out of your Wave Inbox. Once you close the ping, that conversation is added to your Inbox as a regular old wave. If you’d like to view a ping in a larger wave panel from the start, click the Expand button on the top of the ping panel. (It’s the middle icon that looks like the Restore button on Windows computers.)

In-Wave Pings

You can also ping a contact from a wave. If you’ve already got a wave open with a contact you’d like to ping, click your contact’s icon on the top of the open wave and, likewise, click the Ping User button.

However, when you start a ping from inside a wave, the ping displays inside that wave for both you and whomever you’re pinging—it does not pop up an attention-getting notification. An in-wave ping is a handy way to have an off-topic or private back-and-forth with one or more participants without involving every participant in a wave. In fact, an in-wave ping behaves very much like a private reply. For more on private replies, see Chapter 5, Dive Deeper into Wave.

Add More Participants to a Ping

You can add other contacts to any ping the same way you add contacts to a wave: click the + (plus) button on the top of the ping (next to the contact icons) and search for the contact(s) you want to add. Because pings “minimize” when they’re not active, you can’t drag and drop contacts to a ping from the Contacts panel.

When to Ping?

In much the same way as you might start a chat with someone inside Gmail rather than send an email, you ping someone to start a quick, real-time exchange. Pings work best when you want to have a quick chat, or get someone’s attention in Wave if you see that he or she is online.

Figure 3-6. You can see which participants—or which of your contacts—is online by looking for the green dot on the bottom right corner of the contact icon.

If a Wave user is online, Wave adds a small green dot to the bottom right corner of that person’s icon anywhere it appears in the Wave client—from the Contacts panel and Search panel to open waves. If you see a green dot on a contact’s icon, they’ll see your ping straightaway.

Edit Your Wave Profile

As stated above, Wave draws from Google Contacts to populate your Wave Contacts list. Similarly, Wave also uses Google Profiles[5] to manage your in-Wave profile.

Editing your Google Wave profile is a matter of editing your Google Profile. To do so, you can visit directly, or in Wave, click your icon or name on top of the Contacts panel and click the Edit Profile button on the Profile pop-up. This opens your Google Profile page.

Figure 3-7. Edit the information that people see about you in Wave by editing your Google Profile.Once you’re in your Google Profile, click the Edit profile link on the right of the page and fill in whatever information you want to add to your Wave (and Google) profile. From this page you can set your screen name, nickname, profile picture, occupation, web site (if you’ve got one), and pretty much any other information you’d like to associate with your Google Profile.

Currently Wave won’t display every piece of contact information you enter into your Google Profile, but if you make your profile public, Google may also add your profile to the first page of web search results for your name.[6]

Set Your Wave Status

To add a little more personality to your Wave pop-up profile, you can set a status message that becomes visible to your Wave contacts—much like you can in Google Chat or other instant messaging applications. While not integrated with any other Google service (yet), you can use the status message for traditional, functional purposes, like telling your contacts that you’re busy (handy because Wave doesn’t let you set generic statuses like “busy” or “away”), or you can just use it to remind them that “Everything’s shiny, Cap’n.”

Figure 3-8. Set your status by clicking your contact icon in the Contacts panel.

To set your status, click your name or icon at the top of the Contacts panel and type your desired status message into the text box below your name, as shown in Figure 3-8. Press Enter or close the Contact pop-up to set it. Your status will persist through Wave sessions and remain set even if you log into Wave from different computers.

Once you’ve made a few dozen waves, in the next chapter, learn how to find and organize your waves.

Find and Organize Waves

Now that you’re up and running with Wave, learn how to manage a busy Wave Inbox.

Once your Inbox is teeming with quickly updating waves, it’s time to get good at finding and organizing important information. Wave’s search box, tags, folders, mute, and archive controls can help you keep your Inbox under control. Like Gmail, you can move waves out of your Inbox by archiving them, or mute chatty waves to turn off their unread content notifications. You can label waves with tags that all its participants can see, or file waves in folders and sub-folders only you can see to organize them in your Wave client. Like all Google products, the search box is front and center in Google Wave, and Wave provides several special search terms that can help you narrow results in useful ways. Once you’ve crafted your favorite searches, you can save them for reuse and filter waves based on those criteria. Contents [hide]

Reduce Wave Inbox Clutter and Unwanted Notifications

Once you’re participating in a significant number of active waves, your Inbox gets busy fast. Even if your cohorts aren’t on Wave yet, you can still start getting lots of wave update notifications in your Inbox. Remember, just opening public waves that a with:public search turns up automatically adds you to the list of participants, which can lead to a cacophony of constantly updating waves in your Inbox.

Every time a wave updates, it moves to the top of your Inbox and its subject line turns bold. Wave’s instant, real-time notifications are a double-edged sword: wonderful when you’re waiting on important updates, terrible when new information you don’t care about distracts you. The Archive and Mute buttons can help you clean out your Inbox and silence chatty waves one by one.

Archive Waves

Figure 4-1. Muted waves are displayed with a gray “Muted” system label when they turn up in search results.

Google Wave’s Archive feature works just like it does in Gmail: when you archive a wave, it is moved from your Inbox to “All” waves. The wave is still findable and accessible by clicking the All link on the Navigation panel, but it doesn’t appear in your Inbox. If someone updates an archived wave, however, it reappears in your Inbox as a wave with unread content.

To archive a wave, select it and click the Archive button on its toolbar. To archive several waves in one shot, hold down the Shift key and select multiple waves in the Search panel at once. Then click the Archive button on the Search panel’s toolbar.[1]

To “unarchive” a wave and move it back to your Inbox, select it and click the Inbox button on the Search panel.

Mute Waves

Ever get added to an email chain you don’t care about—but that just won’t stop showing up in your Inbox with reply after reply? In Wave, to stop getting notifications that a particular wave has updated, you can “mute” it. Select the wave and click the Mute button on its toolbar to do so. A muted wave still updates as participants edit it, but you won’t get a notification that there’s new content to read. If you search for that wave, its content and all its updates are still available, even though you didn’t get every new change notification. Muted waves have a special gray “Muted” label in the Inbox, as shown in

Figure 4-1. In the Wave preview, there’s no way to remove yourself from a wave someone else put you on. If someone adds you to a wave you don’t care about, mute it to opt out of its update notifications.

Mark Waves Read or Unread

Like Mute and Archive, there is also a Read and Unread button on the Wave toolbar in both the Search panel and on an open wave. When you click the Read button, a wave does not appear bold or with new blips in the Search panel. When you click the Unread button on an open wave or selected wave(s), all the blips in those waves get marked as unread, and the wave becomes bold in the Search panel.

Tip: Hold down the Shift key and select multiple waves in the Search panel, then click the Mute, Archive, Read, or Unread button to perform the action on several waves in one click.


There is currently no way to mark individual blips within a wave as unread. To mark an individual blip as read, select it.

File Waves in Folders (and Sub-folders)

Figure 4-2. You can create and color folders and sub-folders to organize your waves.

Like most email clients (except Gmail!), Google Wave offers a traditional folder system for filing your waves.[2] To create a new folder, go to the Navigation panel click the + (plus) button next to Folders and type the name of your folder. Your folder name can be as long as you like, and can contain spaces and special characters (such as punctuation).

To create a sub-folder, click the drop-down next to a folder name and choose Add Folder. The sub-folder appears beneath its parent folder and indented, as shown in Figure 4-2. To delete or rename a folder, click the drop-down next to its name and choose Delete. (Know that you cannot delete folders that have sub-folders in them unless all of the sub-folders have been deleted first. The Delete option does not appear on the drop-down menu of a parent folder until its sub-folders are deleted.) From that drop-down you can also customize the order of your folder list, and optionally assign colors to folders.

To move a wave into a folder, go to the Search panel and select the wave. Click the Move to button on the toolbar, and then select the destination folder from the list.

Tip: The Move button is on the far right of the toolbar, so in narrow windows it can get cut off. If you don’t see it, click the … (ellipses) button to expand hidden toolbar buttons.

If your browser has the Google Gears plug-in[3] installed, you can drag and drop a wave or several waves from the Search panel onto a folder name.

Tip: Hold down the Shift key to select multiple waves in the Search panel, then click the Move to button to file several waves in a folder at once.

When you move a wave to a folder, you’re transferring it from its current folder to the destination. A wave cannot be in more than one folder at a time. Also, the folders you create are private—only you can see and use them.

If old-school folders are too limiting and private for your purposes, use tags instead.

Tag Your Waves

Figure 4-3. Click the + (plus) button next to Tags on the bottom of a wave to tag it.

Tags provide a more free-form way to “file” your waves. Unlike folders, you can add as many tags to the waves you participate in as you want. Also unlike folders, everyone who is participating in the wave can see those tags, add to them, and delete them. Tags do not appear on your Navigation panel. They show up only on the bottom of open waves, and in the Search panel on each wave listed there.

To add a tag to a wave, first open the wave. On its bottom panel, click the + (plus) button to the right of the word Tags, as shown in Figure 4-3. Enter a tag and press Enter. To add another tag, repeat. You can add only one tag at a time, and tags can have spaces in them. To remove a tag, hover over it and click the red X that appears.

Like hash tags on Twitter, or bookmark tags on Delicious, your wave’s tags are “public” in the sense that anyone who can see that wave can also see its tags. Already the Wave community is coming up with common tags for organizing public discussions like WaveDiscuss and WaveHelp. Search for with:public WaveDiscuss to see them—and learn about more advanced search techniques like this in the following sections.

Search Your Waves

Google Wave puts a deep repository of live-updating information at your fingertips, but it’s a complete mess unless you know how to find what you’re looking for. The Wave search box, much like Google’s web search box, is the key to getting exactly the results you need. Basic search techniques using keywords return results, while advanced search terms can pinpoint specific waves based on recipients, tags, and other attributes.

Basic Search Techniques

Common search engine conventions you’re already comfortable using in Google and Yahoo web search work in Wave as well. To search for waves that contain a keyword like “browncoat,” just enter browncoat into the search box and press Enter. To find all waves that contain the words “Kaylee” or “browncoat,” separate the keywords with an uppercase “or”: Kaylee OR browncoat. If you want waves that have both the words “Kaylee” and “browncoat” in them, enter Kaylee browncoat. (This query returns the same results as a search for Kaylee AND browncoat. By default, adding words to your query narrows results to only waves that contain all the terms.)

Gotcha: Wave doesn’t recognize special search characters like square brackets, parentheses, currency symbols, the ampersand, the pound sign, and asterisks. It also doesn’t recognize partial or similar matches, so a search for “travel” does not find “travels,” “traveler,” or “travle.” [4]

To search for an exact phrase like “I don’t wanna explode,” enclose it in quotes. This works well for proper names, too: a search for “Joss Whedon” does not return waves with just the words “Joss” in them, or even waves that mention “Joss” in one place and “Whedon” in the other.

The minus sign also excludes waves that match certain criteria from your results. If you want to find waves that mention Firefly but not Buffy, you’d search for Firefly -Buffy.

These basic search techniques get you pretty far. But Wave’s real search power comes in its special search terms that return waves based on participants, tags, folders, and other attributes.

Advanced Operators: Find Waves by Title

The format of Wave’s advanced search terms is operator:value.[5] Just as you can search the web and narrow results down using a query like Firefly, you can do the same with Wave. The trick is knowing what operators do what.

By default, a basic keyword search looks in the title and body of the waves you participate in. To limit your search to just wave titles, use title:keyword. Enclose multiple words in quotes. For example, to search all your wave titles for the word “Reavers,” search for title:Reavers. To search for all wave titles with the words “space opera,” search for title:”space opera”.

Because you can associate captions with images in Wave, you can also specifically search the contents of captions. (Read more about adding images with captions to your waves in Chapter 5, Dive Deeper into Wave.) To search image captions, use the caption:keyword operator. For example, to search waves that contain images with “Gina Torres” in the caption, search for caption:”Gina Torres”.

Advanced Operators: Find Waves Based on the People In Them

Waves are made of contributions by people, so you want to know how to find waves by the people involved in them. These search operators help you find wave participants based on their role in the wave: whether they’ve created it, been added to it, or edited it. In this list, name doesn’t refer to a person’s full name; it’s the first part of his or her Wave ID. That is, if the Wave user’s ID is, replace name with zoe.

You can also use the keyword “me” to refer to yourself. For example, if your Wave ID is, to find waves you created you could use, or the shorter, simpler creator:me.

Here is the full list of Wave search operators that find waves based on their participants.

Search Term                                       Returns


from:name                                         All waves created by name.


with:name                                          All waves where name is a direct participant (name may be a user or a group).



by:name                                              All waves where name edited at least one message.

to:name                                               All waves where name is a participant, but not the creator.

onlyto:name                                      All waves where name is the only participant, beside the creator.

onlyby:name                                     All waves where name is the only contributor.

onlywith:name                                 All waves where name is the only participant (name is either your own, or a group you belong to).

dfrom:name                                      All waves with a direct message from name or waves with only two participants, where name is a contributor.

dto:name                                            All direct messages to name, or waves with only two participants, where the other participant is also a contributor.

is:note                                                 All waves in which you are the only participant.

Advanced Operators: Find Waves by Location or Read State

You may want to find waves based on what folder they’re in, what tag they have, whether or not they’re read, unread, or muted. Here’s the full list of advanced Wave search operators that return waves based on location and state.

Term                    Results

is:read                  Finds all waves where all messages within the wave (including all private replies) have been read.

is:unread             Finds all waves with at least one message that has not been read.

is:filed                   Searches only waves that have been filed in your folders.

is:unfiled             Searches only waves that have not been filed (and are either still in:inbox or only in:all).

is:muted              Searches only waves that have been muted.

is:unmuted         Searches only waves that have not been muted.

has:tag                                 Finds all waves with any tag.

tag:name             Finds all waves with the tag name.

Use Case: During the writing of this book, the writers and production team used Wave tags and a saved search as a book-specific filter. We agreed to tag all book-related waves “cwg” (short for Then, by saving a tag:cwg search, it was easy to see if any updates on book-related waves had occurred.

Advanced Operators: Find Waves by Attachments

To narrow down your search results to waves with file attachments, use these advanced operators.

Term                                     Results

has:attachment                Finds all waves with an attachment.

has:document                   Finds all waves with a document attached.

has:image                           Finds all waves with an image attached.

has:gadget                          Finds all waves containing any gadget.


The more you use Wave, the more you’ll notice that advanced searches for waves are baked into its interface. For example, your Inbox is the results of an in:inbox search. The Trash is just results for an in:trash search.

You can even see recent conversations with a specific person by clicking the Recent Waves button on the Contact pop-up—that displays results for a with:name search, where name is the contact in question.

Combine Wave Search Operators into Useful Recipes

Wave’s search capabilities are most powerful when you chain criteria together to see custom lists of your waves. Here are just a few useful Wave search recipes you may want to try.

Search public waves with with:public: To find public discussions about almost anything, search using the with:public operator, which returns waves in which is a participant. For example, to search all public waves for the word “browncoats,” use with:public browncoats.

Create an only-to-me Inbox with onlyto:me is:unread: See unread waves in which you and the creator are the only participants. This is a great way to find waves you probably need to respond to.

See “Sent” waves with creator:me -is:note: See all the waves you’ve created and added others to participate in; this set of results creates something loosely akin to an email program’s Sent box.

See waves you’ve created for private use with is:note: Even though Wave is a collaboration tool, you can still create waves and add no other participants, whether you’re in the process of drafting something to share later, or just keeping some “notes to self.” The is:note operator returns only waves you’ve created, and in which you’re the only participant.

Once you tweak your favorite searches to your needs, you can save them for reuse.

Saved Searches and Wave Filters

Figure 4-4. Click the Save search button on the bottom right of the Search panel to name a query and save it under Searches on the Navigation panel.

Now that you’ve concocted your favorite wave queries, you can save them for reuse on the Navigation panel. To do so, enter your query in the search box and press Enter to run it. On the bottom of the Search panel, click the Save search button, then enter a name for your search in the Title field. Click the Submit button to save it, as shown in Figure 4-4.

Once you’ve saved a search, it appears on the Navigation panel under Searches (just above the Folders list). Like folders, you can click the drop-down button next to a search to edit the query or its name, move it up or down the saved searches list, or add a color to it. Also like folders, you can create a new Saved Search by clicking the + (plus) button next to Searches on the Navigation panel.

Filter Incoming Waves Based on Search Criteria

The Save search pop-up also contains another interesting and powerful section: Filter Actions. Like email filtering rules, here you can tell Wave to automatically perform actions on waves that meet the search criteria in the Query field.

In the Wave preview, there are only two available filter actions: Mark as read and Archive. By checking the Archive box on a saved search, you’re telling Wave to automatically move any waves that meet the search criteria out of your Inbox. By checking the Mark as read box on a saved search, you’re telling Wave to mark those waves as read. (Automatically checking a wave as read has a similar effect as muting a wave in that you’re suppressing unread notifications, except that the state of these waves is read, not muted.) Checking both boxes means new waves that meet your search criteria are both archived and marked as read.

With only Mark as read and Archive, the Wave preview’s filter actions are very limited right now. Hopefully a fuller set of actions will become available and wave filtering will be as robust as Gmail eventually.

Mastering its search capabilities is a major part of getting the information you need out of Wave. In the next chapter, Dive Deeper into Wave, you’ll learn how to make rich waves worth searching for.

Dive Deeper into Wave

You’ve created and participated in waves, filled in your contacts list, and saved reusable searches for waves. Now it’s time to dig into Wave’s advanced features.

Google Wave is fundamentally a document-centric system, so you want to make good-looking waves with colors, font styles, headings, and other word processor-like styles. You can attach files and create photo slide shows in your waves, and add interactive gadgets like maps, Yes/No/Maybe surveys, and YouTube videos. Learn how to copy waves and play back wave revisions over time. By the end of this chapter, you will have graduated from a beginner to a competent Wave user. Contents [hide]

Format Your Waves

Wave offers light, word processor-like document formatting like font faces, colors, headers, and bullet points to make your waves more readable and professional. When you’re composing or editing a wave, select the text you want to format and use the edit toolbar buttons shown in Figure 5-1. Keep in mind that toolbar buttons can get cut off if your wave is in a narrow area. If that happens, click the … (ellipses) button to expand the rest into a drop-down menu.

Reminder: A wave’s toolbar has different buttons on it when you’re viewing the wave versus when you’re editing it. Make sure you’re in edit mode to use text formatting features from the toolbar. With the wave open, select the blip you want to edit, and either click the wave’s menu in the upper right corner and choose Edit this message, or press the Ctrl+E keyboard shortcut to switch to edit mode.

Figure 5-1 shows a wave’s edit toolbar, and examples of Wave’s text formatting abilities. From left to right, a wave’s edit toolbar buttons let you:

Bold, italicize, underline, and strike through text

Select one of 14 font families (from Arial to Verdana)

Assign a text color or a highlight (behind-the-text) color

Choose one of four heading levels (of various sizes) or the default text size

Create a bulleted list

Indent or outdent paragraphs, and align text left, right, or center

The rest of the edit toolbar’s buttons, from the Link button on, insert various types of interactive content to your wave.

Insert Links into Waves

Figure 5-2. Select the text you want to link, click the Link button on the toolbar, and enter the page’s URL into the pop-up.

To add a link to a web page in your blip, select the text you want to link. Then, click the toolbar’s Link button (or press Ctrl+K, as listed in Chapter 6’s keyboard shortcuts table). In the pop-up, enter the web page address in the URL or Wave ID field, as shown in Figure 5-2.

Not only can you link to external web sites in a wave, you can also link to other waves, wiki-style. While technically you can enter a Wave’s ID into the URL or Wave ID field shown in Figure 5-2, extracting a Wave ID is not an intuitive process. There’s a much easier way: first, while you’re editing your wave, search for the wave you want to link to in the Search panel. Then, drag and drop it into the wave that you’re editing to add the link.[1] Remember that participants in your wave are able to open up the linked wave only if they’re participants in it as well. When others click the link to the wave, it opens up in the current wave panel.

Add Links, Images, and YouTube Clips Directly from Google Search Results

Figure 5-3. After you insert a video search result into your wave, click the lightbulb icon next to it and choose Embed video to include a full player.

Another way to add links and other web content to waves is via a Google search panel built into Wave. Click the blue G+ button on the toolbar. From the pop-up, you can search the web for regular pages, images, and video clips. (Books and More appear on the menu in the Wave preview, but they’re listed as “unimplemented.”) Click the tab to specify the type of content you want, enter your search terms, and press Enter. The results appear in the panel, each with an Add to wave link next to them. Click Add to wave on the desired results to insert them into your wave.

Web page links show up as plain links. Images appear as thumbnails in your wave. Video results can appear as either a link to the video, or, with an extra click, an embedded video player.

To include a video player in your wave, while you’re editing it, click the G+ button, then click the Video tab and search for “Serenity trailer.” You’ll get several results for the film trailer on YouTube. Click Add to Wave on the video of your choice. Initially it appears as a link with a small lightbulb icon next to it. Click the lightbulb and choose Embed video from the drop-down to place the full YouTube player inside the wave, as shown in Figure 5-3.

This embedded video player is the first example we’ve seen of a Google Wave gadget: an interactive bit of web content in-wave.

Remove an embedded video player from your wave the way you do any gadget: hover over it, and then from the drop-down menu that appears on the upper right corner, choose Delete.

Attach Files to Your Waves

Like email, you can attach files to your waves, including images. There are two ways to add a file or image into a wave.

If your browser has the Google Gears plug-in installed, you can drag and drop files from your computer directly into your wave. (Gears comes with Google Chrome for Windows, and it’s freely available to install for Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari for Mac.)

Click the paper clip icon on your wave’s toolbar, and then choose the file you want to upload from the open dialog.

Except for images, most file types appear in the wave as an attachment, represented by a large icon. Figure 5-4 shows what a spreadsheet, Microsoft Word (.doc) file, a PDF, and a regular image look like as file attachments in wave.

Figure 5-4. File attachments appear as thumbnails in-wave. PDF and image files display previews of their content, while other file types (like Word or Excel documents) appear as generic attachment icons.

Every file type has a caption or descriptive text included with it. By default, it’s the name of the file without the extension. Anyone participating in the wave can edit that caption, but it does not change the file name. If you click a file to download it, the downloaded file name will be the original name the file had when it was uploaded, not the edited caption.

Google limits file attachments to 20MB in size. Additionally, uploaded photos may lose quality. According to Google Wave’s help section[2]:

All photos you upload will be downsampled—downsampling is the process of making a digital image smaller by removing pixels. Waves containing large files tend to load more slowly, so we’ve implemented this process in an effort to keep Google Wave nice and speedy.

This means that Google Wave isn’t suited for exchanging high-resolution photos or hosting large files. However, Wave positions itself as a photo-sharing tool for viewing web-quality photos online. It offers the benefit of collaborative photo captions and a sleek slide show for viewing photo collections.[3]

Share Photos on Wave

The biggest advantage of sharing photos with others in Wave is the ability to collaborate on photo captions. For example, after a wedding, if both sides of the family add all their photos to a shared wave, they can add the names of who appeared in each photo to the captions, depending on who knows who. Like edits to regular wave text, caption updates happen real-time, and you can watch wave participants change them live.

Tip: You can find images based on their caption text by using the caption:”your search terms” search operator.

Once photo captions are set, you can view a set of photos in-wave in a slide show.

Play a Photo Slide Show in WaveWhen you add a photos to a wave, their thumbnails appears in-wave, much like the thumbnail view in Mac’s Finder or Windows Explorer. When you’re done editing the wave, you can click an image to view it at its full size. Wave’s background color goes black, and the full-sized image appears mid-screen. Click the white X in the upper right corner to close the image.

If you have multiple images in a wave, an Images button appears next to the Files button on the bottom of that wave. Click the Images button and choose View as slide show to easily flip through the photos at their full sizes, as shown in Figure 5-5.

Figure 5-5. When there are multiple images in a wave, click the Images button on the bottom of the wave and choose View as slide show in the menu to play an auto-forwarding slide show of images.

In slide show mode, image thumbnails appear at the bottom of the screen. You can click the Play button on the left to move through the images automatically. Alternately, you can click a thumbnail to see its full size, or use your arrow keys to move forward or back through the slide show. In slide show mode, you cannot see wave text or edit photo captions. To exit the slide show, click the white X in the upper right corner of the slide show. A slide show isn’t the only kind of rich, custom content you can add to your wave.

Add Built-in Gadgets to Your Waves

A Wave gadget is a custom interactive control you can add to your waves. Anyone can create gadgets that do a variety of things, and you can install the gadgets you want to use. Chapter 7, Wave Gadgets, covers how to install gadgets and some of the best third-party gadgets worth checking out. To get started using gadgets, there are two useful default gadgets that come in Wave: the Map gadget and the Yes/No/Maybe gadget.

The Map Gadget: Watch Your Collaborators Zoom and Pan Real-time

The lead engineers who built Google Wave are the same engineers who built Google Maps—so it’s no surprise that Wave has an excellent Google Maps gadget that puts an interactive map in your wave. On this embedded map you can pan and zoom, add points to locations, draw lines from one location to another, and fill polygons to highlight areas on the map. In edit mode, as you zoom, pan, draw, and switch between Map, Satellite, and Hybrid mode, if your wave’s collaborators are online and have your map wave open, they’ll see those changes as you make them live.

To add a map to a wave, while you’re editing the wave, click the Maps gadget button (the red pinpoint) on the toolbar. A map of your location’s general area appears in-wave. To find a specific address or location, search Google Maps by using the search box on the bottom of the map gadget. Click a result, then add that pinpoint to your map by clicking the Create copy on map button, as shown in Figure 5-6.

Figure 5-6. To add a point to your map, search for a location, click the desired result, then click the Create copy on map button.

You can also add location markers to the map by hand. In edit mode, zoom and pan to the location you want to point out, and click to add a marker there. Set the title and description in the pop-up box. Your map can include as many location markers as you want.

You can also add lines and filled polygons to your map. Click the Line and Polygon buttons to the right of the search box on the bottom of the map gadget while you’re in edit mode. Then click the map to start drawing. The Hand button switches you back into pan and zoom mode.

When you’re finished adding information to your map, zoom and pan to the area you want your collaborators to see when they open the wave, and choose Map, Satellite, or Hybrid mode. Then click the Done button (or press Shift+Enter) to save your changes. This is the state that your collaborators will see the map in. While they’re viewing the map, they can zoom and pan to see other parts of the map and you will not see that activity. (A Return to shared view button lets you or your collaborators snap back to the saved, shared state of the map.) If a collaborator switches into wave edit mode and changes the state of the map, draws on it, or adds markers, the rest of the collaborators can see that activity real-time.

To delete a map from a wave, click the drop-down in the map’s upper right corner, and select Delete.

The Yes/No/Maybe Gadget

The Yes/No/Maybe gadget helps you survey a group and tally responses to a simple question, such as “Will you make it to the party?” To add the Yes/No/Maybe gadget to your wave, click its button on the toolbar. (It appears to the left of the Map gadget button, and its icon contains three small boxes colored green, red, and yellow.) Above the gadget, type your question. When you’re done editing the wave, add your collaborators to it.

To respond to the question, you and your collaborators click either Yes, No, or Maybe at the top of the gadget. When you do, your user icon appears in the appropriate column, and the gadget automatically tallies the total responses for each, as shown in Figure 5-7. To add a note to your response, click the Set my status link. That text appears next to your name in the response. You can change your response by just clicking a different answer.

Figure 5-7. The Yes/No/Maybe gadget tallies responses to a question in columns.

To delete the Yes/No/Maybe gadget, in edit mode, hover over it. From the drop-down in the upper right corner, choose Delete.

Spell Check Your Waves

Google Wave includes an automatic spell check feature that overrides any spell checker available in your web browser. As you type in Wave, misspelled words appear with a red underline. To correct the spelling, hover over the underlined word and click the drop-down menu that appears. Select the corrected spelling in the list, as shown in Figure 5-8. [4]

Figure 5-8. Wave’s built-in spell check suggests corrections to misspelled words in a drop-down.

If the word is spelled just how you intended, you can ignore the red underline. Alternately, select your spelling from the bottom of the correction suggestion drop-down.

Wave’s interface is available in U.S. English only. However, the spell checker understands and offers correction suggestions in more languages[5] than just U.S. English, including Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

Copy Waves

One of the main advantages of using Wave over email is that Wave doesn’t create multiple copies of a message—everyone included in the conversation updates it in a single place. However, there may be cases where you do want to make copies of waves, to share with different groups of people. For example, if your team is creating a document to present to the boss eventually, you might not want the boss to see the wave’s past versions, or inline discussion blips. Once the wave is complete, you can copy it to a new, final wave, and add the boss to that one.

To copy a wave, click the drop-down menu on any blip’s upper right corner, and choose Copy to new wave. Only the contents of the blip you copied get transferred into the new wave; none of its replies or past revisions are included.

Play Back Wave Changes Over Time

One of Wave’s most powerful features is its ability to replay the entire history of a wave’s changes from creation to its current state. Every time you click the Done button (or press Shift+Enter) to complete an update or reply to a wave, Wave saves a snapshot of the document state at that point in time. That version of the wave appears as one frame in its playback.

To play back a wave, open it in view mode, and then click its Playback button. A slider appears at the top of the wave, with a rewind, back, forward, and fast-forward button on its left. Just beneath the slider, a yellow bar tells you when the wave was created, and how many revisions there are (as well as which one you’re looking at). For example, if you click the Playback button in a wave that you created on October 1st that has 33 revisions, the yellow bar reads, “You started the wave on Oct 1” on the left, and “1 of 33” on the right, because you’re viewing the first of 33 revisions.

To navigate between versions in playback mode, use the buttons on the left of the slider or the slider itself. Move one revision forward or back using the middle two buttons, and fast-forward or rewind to the beginning or end of a wave’s history with the outer buttons. As you move through its versions, changes to the wave from the previous version are highlighted in yellow and red text, as shown in Figure 5-9.

Figure 5-9. When you play back a wave’s edit history, you can see added text in yellow and deletions struck through with a red background. You can copy any past incarnation of a wave into a new wave.

Playback is an advanced feature for power users—it is familiar to software developers who use version control systems—but there are two everyday use cases for it.

Playback Use Case: Conversational Catch-up

Playback’s main purpose is to help Johnny-come-latelies catch up on what they missed when they’ve been added to a wave after it’s progressed through multiple changes. For example, if three co-workers are collaborating on a wave, and then add a fourth person to it, that last person is coming in on a fully developed conversation or document. To catch up with what happened in sequence, Wave’s playback functions as an instant replay. The fourth person can go back to what the wave looked like when it started, and watch what changes and contributions got added to it over time to make better sense of the conversation.

Playback Use Case: Restore a Past Revision

An alternate use of playback is to restore a past version of a wave. While Wave doesn’t let you roll back a wave to a previous state (yet), you can resurrect an old version of a wave by copying a past revision to a new wave. In playback mode, on any revision, you can select Copy to new wave to create a whole new wave populated with that revision’s contents, as shown in Figure 5-9.

Make a Wave Public

You already know how to find public waves using the with:public search operator. Now you want to know how to make one of your own waves public. There’s no Make this wave public button available in Wave; instead, there’s a trick. Add the Wave ID to your Contacts list the way you would any other contact: click the + (plus) button on the bottom right of your Contacts panel, and enter in the address field.

Even though Wave says “User does not have a Google Wave account” and the Submit button is disabled as shown in Figure 5-10, press Enter anyway. The public contact (which represents a user group of everyone on the server) appears in your Contacts list.

Figure 5-10. Wave tells you “User does not have a Google Wave account” when you try to add to your Contacts list. Press Enter anyway to add it to your list.

Master Wave’s Interface

Once you know how to use Wave, you want to get faster and smarter about navigating its interface.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’re ready to go beyond Wave’s default layout and its point-and-click buttons and menus. In this chapter, you’ll train your fingers to use keyboard shortcuts to get the most common Wave tasks done without the inefficiencies of the mouse. You’ll customize the Wave client layout to work well on your netbook as well as your widescreen monitor. Finally, you’ll get intimate with Wave’s interface, which is packed with visual cues and hooks into its different features. Competent Wave users, it’s time to graduate to a Wave black belt. Contents [hide]

Get to Know Wave’s Keyboard Shortcuts

The fastest way to use any software is to do it straight from the keyboard, and eliminate as many time-wasting reaches for the mouse as possible. Like Gmail and Google Reader, Wave comes with a host of keyboard shortcuts for navigating and editing waves as well as controlling in-wave image slide shows.[1]

Navigation Shortcuts

Move between and within Wave’s four main panels using the following keyboard shortcuts.

Shortcut Key                                     Action

Up/Down Arrows                            Moves you up and down the blips in a wave.

Home                                                    Takes you to the first blip in a wave.

End                                                        Takes you to the last blip in a wave.

Space                                                    Takes you to the next unread blip in a wave.

Page Up/Page Down                      Scrolls a panel up and down a page at a time.

Ctrl+Space                                          Marks all blips “read” when focus is on the Wave panel.

Wave Editing Shortcuts

Edit and reply to messages with these keyboard shortcuts.

Shortcut Key                                      Action

Enter                                                     Replies to a blip at the same level of indentation.

Shift+Enter (in view mode)         Replies to a blip at the end of a wave. The new blip appears at the same indentation level, at the very end of the wave.

Ctrl+E                                                    Edits a blip.

Shift+Enter (in edit mode)           Ends your blip editing session (same as the Done button).

Ctrl+B                                                    Bolds/unbolds selected text.

Ctrl+I                                                     Italicizes/unitalicizes selected text.

Ctrl+U                                                   Underlines/removes underline from selected text.

Ctrl+G                                                   Adds color to text via “poor man’s rich text” pop-up, in which you can type a color name (like “blue” or “red”) or enter the hexadecimal HTML color code.

Ctrl+K                                                    Adds a link.

Ctrl+[n]                                                Makes the current line a heading, where [n] = 1 through 4 for different sized headings.

Ctrl+5                                                    Adds bullets.

Ctrl+6                                                    Removes formatting from text.

Ctrl+7                                                    Left-aligns text.

Ctrl+8                                                    Right-aligns text.

Navigate Image Slide Shows

When you’re viewing a wave that contains multiple images, from the Images menu on the bottom of that wave, select View as slide show. (Sadly there’s no keyboard shortcut to launch a slide show—yet.)

Once you’re in the slide show, navigate the photos using these keyboard shortcuts.

Shortcut Key                      Action

Space+Right                       Moves to the next slide.

Shift+Space                        Moves to the previous slide.

Down / Page Down         Moves to the next set of thumbnails.

Up / Page Up                     Moves to the previous set of thumbnails.

Home                                    Moves to the first slide.

End                                        Moves to the last slide.

Start Small with the Most Useful Shortcuts

A compiled list of keyboard shortcuts like the ones above can be overwhelming to the point of unhelpful. As with learning keyboard shortcuts for any program, start small with the ones that perform the most common actions and are easy to remember, such as Enter to reply to a selected blip, and Shift+Enter to finish editing a blip you’re typing in. Ctrl+I, U, and B (to italicize, bold, and underline text) all work the same way they do in your word processor. Ctrl+E is easy to remember because it lets you Edit a selected wave.

Once you’ve got the basic, easy-to-remember shortcuts down, move onto a few more and repeat.

Wave Interface Conventions

Not only is Wave audacious in its attempt to reinvent email, it also takes some bold bets with new interface controls and visual cues that are unconventional and therefore unintuitive to new users. In this section, you’ll learn how to recognize the ways Wave denotes things such as blip states, wave status, tags, and folders. Then, you’ll notice the Wave buttons and menus that are tucked away in less-than-obvious places. Here are a few visual cues and interface conventions worth pointing out as you get more comfortable in Wave.

The Non-Standard Wave Scrollbar

Figure 6-1. Unlike the scrollbar in your web browser, Google Wave’s scrollbar is the same height no matter how long the list it’s scrolling, which keeps the up and down arrows always the same short distance away.

The scrollbar on the right side of Wave’s panels works a bit differently than the scrollbar in your web browser. Like most scrollbars, you can drag it up and down to scroll, or click its bottom or top arrow button to move it. Unlike most scrollbars, the Wave scrollbar’s height doesn’t change. It’s always the same, small size that puts its up and down arrows in close proximity to one another. Google’s intention is to benefit people accessing Wave on mobile devices or netbooks with a limited mousing area, but it has thrown off some preview users.[2] Google explains “the deal” with the scrollbar in Wave’s Help section:[3]

You might find that the scrollbar in Google Wave behaves a little differently from scrollbars in other Google products. To use it, you can drag the bar or you can use the arrows on either end of it—clicking the arrows without moving your mouse allows you to very quickly scroll up and down the page. Even at this early stage, at least one developer has created a Google Chrome extension that reverts Wave’s custom scrollbars back to Chrome’s native scrollbars.

Green Bars, Outlines, and Dots

Green is a very important color in Wave—it indicates activity, online status, unread, and selected blips. The green dot on a contact icon means that person is online. When you select a blip, it gets a dark green border around it (and you can perform actions on it with keyboard shortcuts). A lighter green vertical line inside a blip means it’s unread. (Press the spacebar or click to select the next unread blip in a wave, and watch its green vertical line fade.) A flashing green bar at the top of your Wave client alerts you to an incoming ping, or an change to a minimized wave. The number of unread blips in a wave are highlighted in green when that wave is listed in the Search panel.

The Wave Date Drop-down Menu

Figure 6-2. When there’s not enough horizontal room to display all toolbar buttons, Wave collapses hidden items into a drop-down menu available from the … (ellipses) button.

On the top right corner of every blip, Wave displays the date or time of that blip with a small down arrow next to it. Click the arrow to reveal all the things you can (and can’t yet) do with a wave, from Edit this message, Reply to this message, Private reply, Hide all replies (disabled as of writing), Copy to new wave, and Delete. The Delete menu item is disabled for the parent wave—that is, the first blip on the list. Every other blip in a wave can be deleted using this menu item.

The disabled Hide all replies menu item suggests that toggling every inline blip to expanded and collapsed view in one shot will be available at some point. Right now you can click the +/- (plus/minus) speech bubble at the top of any inline blip to hide or show it.

The … (Ellipses) Toolbar Button

Wave’s toolbars are packed with buttons that take up some width, and with three panels across, smaller screens and narrow windows can cut buttons off. That’s when Wave collapses the displaced buttons into a drop-down menu you can access from the … (ellipses) button, on the far right of the toolbar, as shown in Figure 6-2.

Similarly, Wave collapses a long list of wave participants into an expandable + (plus) button with a label that reads something like “1 more,” as shown in Figure 6-2. To see the full list of participants on the wave, click the small + (plus) sign to expand it.

Minimize, Maximize, and Close Panel Buttons

Much like Windows on your Windows PC, Wave provides Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons on the upper right corner of an open wave’s blue top bar, as shown in Figure 6-2. From left to right: The Minimize button shrinks a wave and docks it to the top of your Wave client, next to the Google Wave logo. The Maximize button minimizes all the panels except the open wave, filling the entire screen with it. The Close button (which looks like an X) closes the wave.

The Navigation, Contacts, and Search panels have only the Minimize button available—not Maximize or Close. When you minimize one of those panels, they dock to the top of your Wave client, in the space next to the Google Wave logo.

When a minimized panel or wave is docked at the top of the screen, a small down arrow gives you a “window shade” pull-down view that slides down over whatever appears in the main area of the screen. Click it to access what’s in that list without rearranging your current workspace. In Figure 6-3, the Navigation, Contacts, and Search panel are minimized to make room to edit a wave full-screen. But when you click the down arrow on the docked Search panel, it pulls down over the content of the wave.

Figure 6-3. Use the down arrow button to pull down minimized panels window-shade style.

You can also expand and contract the width of any Wave panel. Hover your cursor along the edge of any panel, and your pointer changes to indicate that you can click and pull that panel wider or narrower. This same technique works between stacked panels, like Navigation and Contacts: you can make Contacts taller while making Navigation shorter, by clicking and dragging the Contacts panel’s top edge.

Customize the Wave Interface

Now that you know how to minimize Wave panels, if you prefer a certain Wave layout, you can bookmark a Wave URL that restores that layout automatically when you visit Wave. You can also customize the order, size, and layout of the Wave client’s menu items and panels. Finally, you can open multiple waves at once to multi-task on a big screen.

Bookmark Your Preferred Wave Layout

Netbook owners or those who keep Wave open in a small window appreciate the ability to minimize unneeded Wave panels and maximize the reading or writing area on the wave they’re currently working on. To load Wave with certain modules minimized by default, you can use a Wave URL that contains the #minimized parameter. For example,,minimized:contact launches Wave with the Navigation and Contacts panels minimized. The,minimized:contact,minimized:search URL minimizes Navigation, Contacts, and Search panels as shown in Figure 6-5.

While you’re looking at Wave URLs, the observant will notice that every individual wave has an ID that appears in your browser’s address bar when you click it. This means you can bookmark or IM a link to a wave to anyone who can see it. (That is, you can share a link to a public wave to anyone with a Wave account; but sending a wave’s link to someone not participating in it generates a message saying they don’t have access to it.)

Reorder and Color Navigation Panel Links

Figure 6-4. Select an item on the Navigation panel and click the down arrow to move the item up and down the list, or to assign a color to it.

From the Inbox down to the Trash, every item in Wave’s Navigation panel is configurable. You can assign it a custom color or move it up or down the list. The default menu items are Inbox, All, By Me, Requests, Spam, Settings, and Trash. Each is a system-generated link to a specific search, i.e, Inbox runs an in:inbox search, By Me runs a by:me search, etc. (Only the All link doesn’t display search results for waves: it shows you every wave you have access to, unfiltered.)

To rearrange the order of those items or assign an individual link a custom color, click the item to select it (it turns green), then click the down arrow that appears on the far right. A drop-down menu appears that gives you the option to move the item up or down the list, or set a color, as shown in Figure 6-4.

Ctrl+Click to Open Multiple Waves

To open multiple waves, Ctrl+Click the waves you want in the Search panel. Wave stacks those waves on top of one another in the far right column. Figure 6-5 shows what three open waves look like with all other panels minimized.

If the Search and/or Navigation and Contacts panels are minimized as shown in Figure 6-5, Wave maximizes the first wave you open across both columns. Then, when you Ctrl+Click to open more waves, Wave pushes the first wave you opened into the right column, and stacks the rest on the left as shown.

If the Search panel is not minimized, Wave stacks multiple open waves in the right column.

What Does THAT Do?

The preview release of Wave is still in an unfinished state, so a few items in its interface act as placeholders for functionality that’s either on its way or not needed yet.

Navigation Panel: Requests

The Requests link on the Navigation Panel will list “Waves from untrusted parties or sources.” Presumably this means that once Wave server federation is in place, you’ll be able to see incoming waves from people on other Wave servers here. In the preview release, nothing is listed in the Requests area because no one can wave at you from other servers. (Even if you had a Developer Preview Wave account, you cannot wave at users on the Wave Preview.)

Navigation Panel: Settings

The Settings link on the Navigation panel lists system settings waves. Right now one of those waves is “Under Construction,” but another is available and working. As discussed in the next Chapter 7, Wave Gadgets, the Extension Settings wave under Settings is where you can view and uninstall Wave gadgets.

Navigation Panel: Spam

One of the big problems with email that Wave wants to solve—or avoid as much as possible—is spam. Still, Wave includes a Spam! button on the Search panel and wave toolbar that lets you mark waves as spam. When you do, that wave appears in the in:spam search results listing when you click the Spam link in the Navigation panel.

Now that you’re a verifiable Wave expert, see how Wave extensions in the form of gadgets and bots let you do more in Wave.

Gotcha: You can only add to your Contacts list using the + (plus) button on the bottom of the Contacts panel, not by entering the ID into the search panel.

Once is in your Contacts list, to make any wave public, add it as a participant. Now your wave appears in search results for with:public.

Be prepared: Public waves can accumulate a large number of blips (into the hundreds), and as a result, become unusable. When you try to open a very active wave with more than a hundred blips, Wave is more likely to throw an error message. If you do get the wave open, playback isn’t likely to work correctly, especially if participants have added bots and gadgets, which can slow things down. People searching for public waves, especially at this early point in Wave’s roll-out, often haven’t been in Wave long enough to know what’s good Wave etiquette and what’s not, and things turn into a free-for-all. If you want your public wave to stay useful and intact for long, you’ll have to look after it, garden off-topic blips, delete slow or broken gadgets, and remove unwanted bots.

Finally, know that the contact may not stick. If you use Wave at another computer or from another browser, you may have to add to your Contacts list again.

Send a Reply Only Certain People Can See

A group of friends are planning to go see a movie that you’re not interested in, and you want to ask one friend out of the group if she wants to go see something else with you—without letting the rest of the group see. In Wave, you can send a reply within a large wave that only certain people can see.

To send a private reply, from the drop-down on the upper right of a wave, choose Private reply. A new, inline blip with an additional blue heading that contains its participants appears inline. Type your private message, and then just add the people you want to see it in the usual way. If someone is a participant on the parent wave but not the private reply, he or she cannot see the reply.

Now that you have a full sense of what’s possible in Wave, it’s time to get more efficient about how you use its interface in Chapter 6, Master Wave’s Interface.

Wave Gadgets

You know all the ins and outs of Wave’s built-in features. Now it’s time to enrich your waves with third-party gadgets.

In Chapter 5 you started adding rich content to your conversations with Wave’s built-in YouTube, maps, and Yes/No/Maybe gadgets. That’s a good start, but there’s a whole universe of gadgets available for Wave. In this chapter, you’ll learn how Wave extensions enable developers to create and users to enjoy new functionality beyond what’s available in Wave by default—specifically through the use of gadgets. Contents

Wave Extensions: Gadgets and Robots

Wave extensions are add-ons that add new features and functionality to your waves.[1] If you’ve ever used any Gmail Labs features,[2] Wave extensions are very similar—extensions add new functionality to the Wave client, normally accessible through a button installed on your edit toolbar when you install the extension. Where Gmail Labs add-ons can be developed only by Google employees, Wave extensions can be developed by anyone. As a result, an impressive handful of extensions are already transforming Wave into an even richer experience.

Wave extensions come in two flavors: gadgets and robots. We’ll cover robots in more detail in the next chapter; right now, let’s take a closer look at gadgets.

What’s a Gadget?

Wave gadgets are small applications you can insert inside any wave to extend the default functionality of the wave. In fact, in Chapter 5 you already learned how to use two of Wave’s built-in gadgets: the Map gadget and the Yes/No/Maybe gadget. As you saw then, when you insert a gadget into a wave, all participants in that wave share access to the gadget and can interact with it.

The gadget fun doesn’t end with those two pre-installed gadget extensions, though. Even at this early stage in Wave’s development, busy programmers have created gobs of great gadgets to provide you with even more clever ways to interact, share, and collaborate with other wave participants. You just need to know where to find them and how to insert them in your waves.

Like many aspects of Wave, you can insert gadgets into a wave in a couple of different ways. If you’ve installed a gadget extension—like the Map or Yes/No/Maybe gadget extensions—you’ve already seen how easy inserting a gadget in a wave can be. While you’re editing a blip, just click the gadget button on the edit toolbar to insert it where your cursor is. You can’t yet install some gadgets as extensions accessible from your edit toolbar, but you can still insert those gadgets in a wave. Below, we’ll show you how to do both.

Gadget Extensions

As mentioned above, both gadgets and bots (you’ll learn more about bots later) fall under the category of extensions. At this early stage in Wave’s development, however, the naming conventions, as well as the process of installing and using extensions, are a little blurry. Most of the time, when you install an extension, the extension adds a new button to the Wave client’s edit toolbar[3]—much like the Map and Yes/No/Maybe gadgets already are. When a gadget extension is installed, you can click the new button any time you’re editing a blip to insert that gadget. You can, however, add gadgets (or bots) to a wave on a case-by-case basis, without installing an extension at all.

First, let’s take a look at how to install a persistent extension—the kind that adds a button to your toolbar and is always available when you log into your Wave client. Then we’ll detail how to add gadgets to individual waves on a case-by-case basis.

Install a Gadget Extension

In this section, you’ll learn how to install extensions to the Wave client that show up every time you log into Wave. Wave provides two different methods of installing such extensions. The first is simple but limited only to extensions featured by Google, while the second requires a little more legwork but allows you to install any extension you want.

Install a featured extension from the Extensions Gallery: When you logged into Wave for the first time, you should have had a wave in your Inbox from Doctor Wave, the fictitious mascot for Google Wave who welcomes you to your account. Inside that message is a link to an Extensions Gallery [4] highlighting a handful of gadget extensions you can install on your Wave client, including the already installed Map and Yes/No/Maybe gadgets.

Tip: Strange as it may seem, the Extensions Gallery isn’t accessible through any easy-to-find Settings shortcut as of this writing, so you need to find your Welcome to Google Wave message and click the Google Wave extensions link inside that welcome message to add the Extensions Gallery wave to your Inbox. Search “welcome to google \/\/ave” to find it in a jiffy.

Once you’ve found your way to the Extensions Gallery, installing featured gadget extensions is a breeze. Each gadget is listed as a puzzle piece displaying the gadget name, what it does, a small logo or screenshot of the gadget in action, and an Install button, as shown in Figure 7-1. Click Install and confirm the installation. The extension adds a button to your Wave edit toolbar that allows you to easily insert the newly installed gadget into any wave with the click of your mouse.

Install an extension that isn’t featured: Anyone can develop a Wave extension, which means there are a lot of extensions available that you can’t yet install through Wave’s current Extensions Gallery. You can still manually install non-featured extensions to add quick access to your favorite gadgets; it just takes a little more know-how.

First, you need to install an extension called Extension Installer, which you can find at the bottom of the Extensions Gallery in a section marked “For Developers Only.” While most extensions add a new button to the Wave client’s edit toolbar, the Extension Installer adds a drop-down arrow next to the New Wave button on the Search panel.

Next, find an extension you want to install. Right now the best place to browse for gadgets is at the Google Wave Samples Gallery.[5] If you find a gadget that looks interesting in the Samples Gallery, click through to its page for details, then look for the Installer XML link on that page (see Figure 7-2). Right-click the link and copy the URL (this link should point to a manifest.xml file that tells the Wave client a little about what the extension does and how to install it). Then head back into Wave.

Figure 7-2. You can manually install extensions and gadgets if you have their Installer XML or Gadget XML links.

When you are back in Wave, manually installing your extension is simple:

Click the drop-down arrow next to the New Wave button on the Search panel and select New Extension Installer.

Paste the URL of the Installer XML you copied above into the Insert Extension Installer pop-up and click Insert.

A new wave containing the same puzzle-piece layout you’re familiar with from the Extensions Gallery appears, only this one should contain information regarding the extension you’re installing. Click the Install button, confirm the installation, and you have successfully performed your first manual extension installation.

Note: Installing extensions using the manual method allows you to add extensions to Wave that haven’t necessarily been vetted by the Wave team, so proceed at your own risk. In theory, this method is used to allow developers to test their extension installers, but until the Wave client features a more streamlined method of installing non-featured extensions, this one works like a charm.

Uninstall an Extension

As convoluted as the different current extension installation processes may seem, uninstalling extensions is actually very easy. If you decide you no longer want an extension cluttering up your edit toolbar, click the Settings link in the Navigation panel. (This performs a search for with:settie.) A wave called Extension Settings appears; open it and every extension you’ve installed is displayed. Now you can uninstall any extension with the click of the Uninstall button.

Figure 7-3. You can uninstall, remove, or re-install extensions from the Extension Settings wave.

Once you’ve installed an extension, it’s always accessible in the Extension Settings wave, where you can reinstall or uninstall it as you like. If you’re sure you’ll never want to install a particular extension again, click the Remove button to entirely remove the extension puzzle piece from your Extension Settings.

Insert Gadgets by URL

Not all gadgets are available to install as extensions through the Extensions Gallery or manually. On top of that, you won’t always want to install a full-on extension just so you can use a gadget one time. Wave’s Add Gadget by URL feature inserts new gadgets into a wave on a case-by-case basis.

All you need to insert a gadget by URL is, obvious as it may seem, a link to the gadget. Just like when you’re searching for installable gadget extensions outside of Wave, the Google Wave Samples Gallery is also the best place to browse for single-use gadgets. In fact, while not all gadgets in the gallery have an Installer XML, almost all of them do have a Gadget XML link—the URL you need to copy to add a single gadget. Right-click the Gadget XML link, copy the URL, and then open up the Wave client.

Remember: Gadgets you insert using the Add Gadgets by URL button won’t add a button to Wave’s edit toolbar, so save the URL for that gadget somewhere handy. May we suggest starting a new wave where you paste the URLs to your favorite gadgets?

To insert the gadget in a blip, open the wave into which you want to insert the gadget, start editing the blip, and then click the Add Gadget by URL button on the toolbar (it’s the one that looks like a jigsaw puzzle piece). Paste the gadget URL you copied above into the pop-up, click the Add button, and Wave inserts the gadget into the currently active blip.

Figure 7-4. Manually insert gadgets into a wave using the Add gadget by URL tool.


Our Favorite Gadgets

New Wave gadgets find their way into Wave every week, and as you saw above, finding them can be difficult. This section highlights some of our favorites and describes what they do.

You’ve already seen the Yes/No/Maybe and Map gadgets, so we won’t cover those again. Most of the gadgets listed here are available through the Extensions Gallery we covered above, so they are easy to install. (It’s no coincidence that the extensions Google features in the gallery are also the most stable.) For those gadgets that aren’t available by default or inside the Extensions Gallery, we’ve including both the Installer XML and Gadget XML links so you can either install the gadget as an extension (using the New Extension Installer) or insert it in a wave (using the Add gadget by URL feature).

Ribbit Conference Call

Get to a point in your wave that a quick conference call would be more productive than continuing your back-and-forth in Wave? Pop the Ribbit’s Conference gadget into a blip and instantly fire up a conference call with whichever participants you want.

Figure 7-5. Start a call with anyone (and potentially everyone) participating in your wave using the Ribbit Conference Call gadget.This gadget is currently available in the Extensions Gallery.

Video Chat Experience

Sometimes a phone call just isn’t enough. The Video Chat Experience gadget—as its name suggests—allows you to start a video chat with another participant in a wave. This gadget is currently available in the Extensions Gallery.







The iFrame gadget embeds an iFrame in your blip that can display any web page you choose. Just click the Edit link, type the URL of the web site you’d like to embed, then click the View link. You can also adjust the height of the gadget in your wave when you’re editing the URL.

Figure 7-7. The iFrame gadget embeds any web page inside a blip.

The gadget provides you with a weather forecast based on any date and location you choose. Sure it’s information you can find out by searching elsewhere, but if you’re planning a getaway with other participants, just insert this gadget and your friends won’t have to duplicate your efforts.

Figure 7-8. Insert the gadget, give it your zip code and a date, and it gives you a quick weather outlook. This gadget is currently available in the Extensions Gallery.

Retro Chat

Feel like taking your conversation into an old-school instant messaging conversation? The Retro Chat gadget inserts an IM window into any blip that all participants in a wave can use.

Figure 7-9. The Retro Chat gadget inserts an instant messaging conversation inside any blip.


Insert the Brainstorming gadget to collaboratively mindmap ideas with other participants in a wave.

Figure 7-10. Do some collaborative mindmapping with the Brainstorming gadget.


The Napkin gadget lets you and other participants in your wave do some “back of the napkin” brainstorming. Draw your ideas when words can’t express what you’re trying to get across.

Figure 7-11. Draw your ideas with other participants when words won’t do.


Wave Sudoku

Using Wave by itself not keeping your mind nimble enough? Take a break from work and give your brain a little workout with the Sudoku gadget. You can either tackle a puzzle by yourself or compete against the participants in a wave.

Figure 7-12. Play some competitive Sudoku with wave participants using the Suduko gadget.

This gadget is currently available in the Extensions Gallery. This is just a taste of the available Wave gadgets. In the next chapter, we’ll introduce you to the other type of extension: Wave bots.

Wave Bots

Bots are Wave extensions that look like wave participants and automatically update waves in useful ways.

The previous chapter covered how to add special chunks of interactive content to your waves in the form of Wave Gadgets. This chapter covers the other flavor of Wave extensions: Bots. Bots look like Wave users, but they’re programmed to edit and update the contents of waves. Wave bots are like instant messenger bots—but with more possibilities, given Wave’s collaboration capabilities. Contents [hide]

Wave Extensions: What’s a Bot?

A bot looks like any other Wave participant or contact. It has a Wave ID in the form of, and you can add a bot to your Contacts list just like you would any Wave user. The only difference between a bot and a human Wave user is that the bot is programmed to automatically perform some function within a wave. A bot is an automated wave participant that examines the contents of waves to which it is added, and updates or adds to them based on what it’s programmed to do.

For example, there are bots programmed to automatically delete empty blips in a wave, or link all @usernames to Twitter. Get those and the Wave IDs of more bots in the section titled “A Few Great Bots” below.

Add or Remove a Bot to Your Wave

As of writing, Wave bots are the only participants you can remove from a Wave. (If you click a participant’s icon on the top of a wave, on the pop-up, the Remove button is enabled on bots only, not on human users.)

To use a bot, add its Wave ID to your Contacts list as you would any other contact. (See Chapter 3, Manage Your Wave Contacts, for more on how to add contacts in Wave.) Create a new wave, then add the bot to try it out.

A Few Great Bots

Every day, more bots become available for use in Wave. This section highlights a few of our favorites, their purpose, and because it’s so early in Wave’s life cycle and some things don’t always work the way you’d expect, how well they’re working.

To try out any of these bots, add its Wave ID (listed in parentheses after its name) to your Contacts list, and then add it to a new wave.

Wikify (

The Wikify bot adds links to and definitions from Wikipedia to your waves for a given topic. When you add Wikify to a wave, it provides instructions on how to add a link to Wikipedia for a topic, or a definition of that topic. See Figure 8-1. to see how Wikify works.  Figure 8-1. If you type <wikify topic> or <wikidef topic> into a wave that the Wikify bot participates in—where topic is a word of interest—Wikify automatically pulls a link or definition from Wikipedia and replaces those commands with the results in-wave.

Bot status: While Wikify’s functionality is limited, it is stable and works as advertised.

Polly the Pollster (

One of the most promising Wave bots available in the preview, Polly the Pollster lets you create multiple choice polls with custom questions and answers, and distribute them among any number of Wave contacts. As your contacts respond by selecting a radio button and clicking the Submit button, you can watch Polly’s poll results, in the form of a pretty graph, update in real-time. See a Polly-generated poll and results graph in Figure 8-2.

Figure 8-2. Polly the Pollster is a Wave bot that helps you create and distribute multiple-choice questions, and tabulates results of the recipients’ responses.

Bot status: Polly mostly works, but it can be unstable and unreliable at times, especially in waves with lots of participants.

Yelpful (

The Yelpful bot offers an interactive, in-wave search interface to the business listings web site, When you add Yelpful to a wave, it greets you and describes its usage with this message in a new blip:

Hello there! Usage: /yelp [location] [keyword] Example: /yelp sunnyvale ca mexican

Type a query, such as /yelp Brooklyn NY Sushi, and Yelpful responds with search results in a new blip.

Bot status: While Yelpful consistently responds to blips, its search results show up in HTML markup, which is not as readable as it should be.

TwitUsernames (

The TwitUsernames bot inspects the content of any wave it’s participating in, and converts any word that starts with an @ sign to a user link to Twitter. For example, if you type @malcolmreynolds into a wave and add TwitUsernames, that word turns into a clickable link that goes to


Figure 8-3. The TwitUsernames bot converts @usernames into Twitter links.

Bot status: Stable and working consistently.

Madoqua Wave Bot (

Bloggers and other web publishers who want to try publishing the contents of their waves should try the Madoqua Wave Bot. When added to a wave, this bot provides customizable JavaScript code you can copy and paste into any web page to embed a wave, as shown in Figure 8-4.

You need to be comfortable with copying and pasting HTML and JavaScript widgets into your web page to use this bot successfully. Keep in mind that if you embed a wave only certain people can see in a web page, everyone else will see either a Wave login page, or a message that they don’t have access to the wave. Even if you make the wave itself public and put it on a web page, it is still inaccessible to people who do not have a Wave ID—that is, didn’t get into the Wave preview.

Figure 8-4. The Madoqua Wave bot generates the HTML you need to embed a wave into any web page.

Bot status: Stable and working. The Madoqua Wave Bot is a clone of the Embeddy bot.

Emoticony (

The Emoticony bot converts textual smiley faces into smiley face images. Add Emoticony to your wave, and in any blip (except for the first one), Emoticony automatically converts emoticons to images, as shown in Figure 8-5.

Bot status: Stable and working consistently.

Sweepy (

The Sweepy bot is an automatic wave clean-up bot. In busy public waves especially, users often automatically press Enter and add a new empty blip without meaning to. Add Sweepy to a wave and it removes those needless blips.

Bot status: Stable and working.

Fun Bots

Several Wave bots show off what bots can do, but in more fun than useful ways. Eliza the Robot Shrink ( is a programmed therapist who chats with you in Wave. The Swedish Chef bot ( inserts “Bork bork bork!” into your waves. Flippy ( flips the text of your waves upside down—great for some April Fool’s Day fun.

This chapter only features a small handful of available bots. See the (unaffiliated) Google Wave bots wiki[1] for a more comprehensive list of available bots.

What Wave Can’t Do

The Wave preview is pre-beta software, with lots of missing functionality. This appendix is a quick list of what you can’t do yet in Wave.

Currently, in the Wave preview you cannot:

Disable real-time, keystroke-by-keystroke live-typing in draft waves, then post them to the hosted conversation by clicking Done (this feature is forthcoming)

Remove participants from a wave if that participant is not a bot (this feature is forthcoming)

Make a wave read-only (Google “looks forward to offering this functionality in the future.”[1])

Ctrl+Z (Undo) changes as you’re editing a wave

Copy gadgets; the menu item is disabled in the date drop-down menu, a likely indicator this is forthcoming

Cut blips into other waves (Wave surgery). Google has said that this is coming

Hide or expand all inline blips; the menu item is disabled in the date drop-down, a likely indicator this is forthcoming

Diff revisions that aren’t sequential in playback

Set your status to invisible or away (if you’re online you’ve got the green dot whether you like it or not)

Merge waves or blips

Organize your contacts into groups

Rearrange blips’ vertical order

Read a public wave without automatically adding it to your inbox



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