Create waves with Google

We get to grips with wavelets, blips & gadgets

By now, you've probably heard mutterings about a new Google innovation known as Wave. Not content with cleaning up in the search engine arena, becoming the first name in digital maps and making its Gmail client synonymous with webmail, Google wants you to organise and share your social and business events and conflabs using its tools too.

Google Wave offers a simple, single interface for storing events, meetings, ideas and conversations. Once you've secured an invite, the idea is you share not just blogs, tweets and funny YouTube clips but more business-focused output too. You can use it to brainstorm ideas, to draw up drafts and to do so across as large a group of contributors as your Google Wave ecosystem stretches to.

The 'wave' is a one-size-fits-all term for conversations, documents and events. In common with a wiki, anyone can edit a wave. But what's most innovative about Google's approach is that any changes will be visible to all users in real time.

Google also promises simplified filesharing, with subscribers able to drag-and-drop items such as photos into a wave. The entire wave can then be shared via external websites.

Although Google Wave was offered only as a limited release to public beta testers at the end of September, it promises to greatly simplify the way we communicate online.

The basics

Google Wave - and its associated jargon and lingo - might seem confusing to the outsider. But its essence is simple: it allows you to store and share files and conversations in an easy-to-use interface.

Wave allows multiple users to share and collaborate on documents, using a rich media editor that can display images and videos as well as a range of gadgets and interactive applets. Any communication or 'wave' can be part conversation and part document, with Google providing live transmission of any edits.

Note that Wave is still in beta, and only invitees are able to participate in its testing programme. Visiting wave.google.com and requesting an invite won't guarantee that you'll be able to access the features mentioned here.

Step 1: One reason behind Google Wave's restricted access is that it isn't fully compatible with Internet Explorer. Rather, Google designed Wave with Safari, Firefox and, unsurprisingly, Google Chrome in mind. If you're nevertheless determined to use Wave with Internet Explorer, you'll need to install the Google Chrome Frame plug-in. This replaces Internet Explorer's rendering engine with that of Google Chrome. Ignore this advice and Google Wave won't appear correctly in your browser.

Step 2: When you first open up Wave, the interface is fairly sparse as there are no waves or contacts other than the person who invited you. A list of waves that have been created and sent to others by you will be listed in the central pane; clicking an individual wave brings up a preview in the right pane. A menu in the left pane, meanwhile, displays a Navigation bar. This can be used to help you locate and control all the waves in which you are a participant, as well as a contacts panel.

Step 3: As the number of users able to connect to Wave is restricted during the beta-testing stage, our ability to demonstrate collaboration with others is limited. If any of your contacts have a Wave account, however, this will be displayed in your contacts list.

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Jason Whittaker

PC Advisor (UK)
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