Google puts open-source Wave in a 'box'

The company will open-source more of its Wave protocols and functionality and release a bundled Wave application, as it relinquishes control of the collaboration platform
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Google plans to release an open-sourced package of its Wave server and web client, the company said on Thursday, as it fleshed out the future for the Wave protocols.

The cloud-based messaging and collaboration service is being abandoned as a Google-run concern, as the company said in August. At the time, Google said it was open-sourcing around 200,000 lines of Wave code, including functionality such as drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing.

However, Alex North, a software engineer on the Google Wave team, said in a blogpost on Thursday that the company will make "a more complete application", dubbed 'Wave in a Box' available.

"This project will not have the full functionality of Google Wave as you know it today," North wrote. "However, we intend to give developers and enterprising users an opportunity to run wave servers and host waves on their own hardware."

"Since the beginning, it has been our vision that the Google Wave protocols could support a new generation of communication and collaboration tools. While Wave in a Box will be a functional application, the future of Wave will be defined by your contributions. We hope this project will help the Wave developer community continue to grow and evolve."

Wave in a Box will bundle a server and web client that support real-time collaboration with structured conversations. The web client will include a "fast and fully-featured wave panel" for threaded conversations, while the server will include a persistent wave store-and-search implementation, North said.

Other features of the package include application programming interface (API) support for Wave gadgets, robots and data, and for importing data from the original Google Wave. People will also be able to federate across various Wave in a Box instances, "with some additional configuration", North said.

Wave was announced in May 2009, with Google proclaiming it to be "a new communications model" designed to pick up where email, instant messaging, blogs and wikis left off. Running on a distributed, peer-to-peer network model, Wave let users have threaded mass discussions, with the ability to hive off more private sub-discussions and collaborate on embedded applications.

Google's platform saw some success among the developer community, being integrated with the likes of Oracle and Salesforce.com, but — despite an initial burst of curiosity — it did not gain long-term traction with users.

In a separate post on a Wave Protocol Google Group thread, North wrote on Friday that Wave in a Box will be released by the end of the year, and a "more detailed task breakdown" will be published for feedback next week.

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