Google has announced a new centralised collaboration tool called Google Wave that mashes together emails, instant messaging and wiki style communication into one service that will be open sourced and run on its own protocols.
Developed in Google's Sydney office by the same team of brothers that created Google Maps, Jens and Lars Rasmussen, the project originally dubbed "Walkabout" has been in development for over two years.
The tool consists of three layers, the first of which is the Google Wave product that users will use to view and edit "waves"; what Google calls its documents within the tool. Features of the product include a rich text editor with contextual spellcheck, the ability to drag photos from a user's desktop onto the wave within the browser and have it upload the photos rather than using file dialogs, and is built using HTML5 and Google Web Toolkit.
The platform itself has application programming interfaces for developers to embed waves inside of other web services, such as blogs, and APIs to build extensions for the tool.
Google Wave uses its own protocol, Google Wave Federation Protocol, for sharing and storing waves, and controlling the concurrency issues present with the live editing, the ability to edit a wave concurrently and see modification character-by-character, that the tool allows.
Google has said that it plans to make the code for the project open source and is inviting developers to build upon the tool prior to its public launch, the date of which is unknown at the time of writing.
One feature to help show the flow and creation of a Wave is the "playback" function, which shows play-by-play who edited what and how in a smooth slideshow-like experience.