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Google Wave as a platform

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By now, everyone has probably heard of Google Wave, the innovative communications and collaboration tool that’s been turning heads since it debuted last May. With its rich feature set, it definitely seems to have a promising future, both for consumers and the enterprise. However, the thing that struck me most about Google Wave is that it’s not just an application, but a powerful open platform.

This means that APIs can extend its functionalities even more, in ways faster and more creative than if Google decided to keep it inside a walled garden. Since its launch, thousands of eager developers have been given an access pass for testing, and the company has held events to sustain interest in the platform, as well as showcase what the community has done so far. Here are some of the more enterprise-friendly extensions under development today from the Google Wave gallery:

Twiliobot. This extension uses the Twilio Phone API to recognize phone numbers in a wave, making them clickable links. If the user selects one of these links, the number is dialed (click-to-call). The conversation can be recorded and transcribed automatically, with the text available for pasting back into the wave. Twiliobot can be further enhanced to include a voicemail manager.

Groupy-the-bot. A wave robot for creating and managing groups using Python. It also has a web interface to make management easier. Administrators can add new groups, remove a group, add someone to a group, remove someone from a group, moderate add request, etc. When finished, this should be very useful for project collaboration.

MediaWiki Wave. Enables you to embed Google Waves inside wikis. Part of an initiative to improve the usability of the MediaWiki engine for editors. It adds Wave’s real-time collaboration, unlimited viewable versioning and WYSIWYG editor to an already popular platform.

Checky. A clean and simple checklist gadget. It takes its inspiration from Basecamp’s to-do lists, supporting drag and drop. Checky offers just a glimpse of how PIM (Personal Information Management) can be integrated into Google Wave.

Apart from these, there are even some games and musical extensions being created. It seems the only limit to Google Wave is the developers’ imagination. During the Google I/O Conference, the team behind Google Wave was clear that they wanted to involve the developer community early so that by the time the service is ready for public use, a good number of extensions can go along with it. Perhaps this is part of their learning experience with the Chrome browser, and I think it’s a great decision on their part.

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