Google was showing its new project, called Google Wave, during its Google I/ conference. The demo gave developers -- ahead of any public launch -- an early preview of Google Wave.
A "wave" is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more - all mixed in a new communications model.
In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave.
That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content -- it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave to see how it evolved.
As with Android, Google Chrome, and many other Google efforts, the company plans to make the code open source as a way to encourage the developer community to get involved. Google Wave is very open and extensible, and developers are being invited to participate before its public launch.
The Google Wave product (available as a developer preview) is the web application people will use to access and edit waves. It's an HTML 5 app, built on Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other functions like desktop drag-and-drop (which, for example, lets you drag a set of photos right into a wave).
Google Wave can also be considered a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves.
The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the "live" concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services. The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone's Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. To encourage adoption of the protocol, we intend to open source the code behind Google Wave.