Is wave to complicated?

Anil Dash wrote that the Wave as a too complicated protocol to implement. Anil writes that nobody but Google will create a waveplatform because it is too complex to implement.

“But the fundamental Wave protocols are, I fear, a bit too complex to ever be fully and correctly implemented by anyone other than Google. Interoperability is likely to be a challenge that plagues the platform for its entire existence. In short: It’s likely that nobody will ever build a fully-compatible clone of Wave that competes with Google’s own implementation.”

Yes it is more difficult to write a federate wave application, that to use the Twitter API for communication. But don’t we (as humans) have the ability to implement complex protocols.

How about SMTP created in 1982 with an RFC, a document on 67 pages. I don’t think that I’m able to get an SMTP server up and running on a weekend, as is Anil’s time for a easy implementation. You also needed to considere how TCP/IP worked before you could implement the SMTP protocol. The wave protocol draft specification is 24 pages (when I copy the text to Word), so it is not longer. If the complexity together with XMPP is larger I cannot say.

When talking about open specifications and complexity. Then the winner must be OOXML or ODF, I don’t know the size of this specification but people are fighting to create some useful specifications that others will implement. I don’t know how many will implement the standards Microsoft and OpenOffice, but it is open if people want to implement features into them.

Agreed we will not see a lot of providers of Wave servers developed by third parties. But some have already started with developing clients as open source projects and there will probably be more projects. We will probably also see some software providers, how will implement and sell their own version of wave servers/clients, so you can have the privacy of on premise solutions.

Another area where there are specifications and multiply providers is in the J2EE world. Sun created a speciation of how ie. J2EE 5 should work and then multiply developers created their version of an application server. In this area we have Sun, JBoss, SAP, (Oracle) and countless other servers.

Sure I would like the Wave protocol to be as easy to program as Twitter, but then we have not created a solution which could revolutionize communication.


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Daniel Graversen

Founder of and SAP Integration consultant at

16 thoughts on “Is wave to complicated?”

  1. Is wave too complicated? According to me yes. Not just the thought of implementing a clone of Google Wave is daunting but also as Anil Dash stated, it is not easy and not at all a weekend scale problem.
    Apart from the technical implementation I would like to comment on the wave complexity on client side(the users).
    1. The wave uses Google gears(Plug-in). With plug-ins the software freaks could develop virtually everything – including Java applications into a web browser! So every user will have to install Google gears on their browsers or they probably will lose out on all the rich and cool features of wave including drag n drop of images from desktop into the wave/wavelet.
    2. Google wave looks really great in video but will it work with slow internet connection as it is case in many developing countries
    3. Many companies have strict security policies. Can google wave work for these companies who are behind firewalls or on older web browsers like IE6, probably not and these upgrades don’t come cheap for these companies.
    4. Many companies/banks works with JavaScript disabled applications for security concerns. How will wave fare with JS disabled?

  2. Hi Arif,
    The client need browser need to a be a modern browser. That means that the user will have to upgrade. Alternative is that somebody will create a client/server which will be rolled out into organisations.


  3. Hi Daniel,
    I agree that the client browser need to be a modern browser. This will solve many problems even for developers who wants that their code doesn’t break in any of the browsers.
    You must be aware with the IE6 must die campaign
    Recently Microsoft responded to this campaign that they will continue to support IE6.
    Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch, the General Manager of the Internet Explorer team outlines that many users of IE6 aren’t individuals, but organizations with IT departments and deployment costs.

    “They balance their personal enthusiasm for upgrading PCs with their accountability to many other priorities their organizations have. As much as they (or site developers, or Microsoft or anyone else) want them to move to IE8 now, they see the PC software image as one part of a larger IT picture with its own cadence.”

    So I guess the alternative that somebody will create a client/server which will be rolled out into organizations also depend on these organizations.

  4. Hi Arif,
    I have seen a lot the IE6 must die campain, also saw it on Facebook yesteday. But if an enterprise want to use Google Wave as a business App then why will have to roll out Firefox or Chrome to their users. Then they can still use IE6 for internal applications.

  5. Hi,
    I guess if one wishes to use sophisticated features then ,Organizations as well as individuals will have to higher versions of IE and other browsers rather than sticking on to IE6.

  6. Google is offering drag n drop , real time translation, concurrent editing and so many cool features. Google uses HTML 5 like video,drag n drop built in tags. For end uses technology docent matter what matters is how robust it works and how different and user friendly an application is. So many users are addicted to gmail why 😉

  7. @Nida Rafiq
    I’m not much into what Colayer can. You are implementing some way of coordinating with the waveprotocol, os you have another client. Hopefully one whith is better suite to an enterprise setting.
    Are you creating a wave server with the full protocol specification. Why don’t you share you thoughts on the complexity issue which is being debated now.

  8. @dgr:
    I will answer on behalf of Nida as I am technically involved in Colayer.
    The basic concepts of Colayer and Google Wave are almost the same. Colayer however uses more the currently available web standards, while Google Wave tries to develop new standards in a lot of areas. The Google Wave client is an XML client, while the Colayer client is DHTML. Google defines a new federation protocol, while Colayer uses http everywhere.
    But to come back to the core topic of this blog post (discussed it with Markus Hegi too -CEO and founder of Colayer):

    The REAL QUESTION is: DO WE NEED A NEW PROTOCOL AT ALL? and DO WE NEED a heavy xml client?

    Way back in the beginning of the internet, there were more than 50 differnet protocols, and now, there are basically 2 dominating ones – and do we need at all 2? We could very well do everything with one single protocol, and http is the dominating one, why not running everything on it? We could even simplify some things, and extend a little to make the REAL real time happen – (streaming) –

    Lets not just think of the implementation time, but lets also think of the various associated tools! – the question is not, if the federation protocol is “better” or simpler, but rather: there is a lot of knowledge out there for http – and a lot of associated tools! – think of security: what about the federation protocol and firewalls?

    Well, I would not make a statement, if the federation protocol will be successful or not. But why would we need it, if we can do without? –
    As Colayer, we will do an “honest” effort to integrate a wave server into Colayer (also, because a great company like Google is behind, and of course, because some customers will ask for it) – I can”t say how successful we will be with it, but I think that Anil Dash is a little too pessimistic in this area: I believe, with the open source, it should be possible to build a good, stable Wave server for us into the Colayer platform – The same way we have built the email interface, or the SMS interface, in order to combine the different communication worlds …

    And yes, Colayer”s focus is clearly the enterprise (therefore, we have very little public versions) – I would really love to hear your opinion about it … Please visit us on the virutal reception (ask for Arif! – I will join you, if I am around) and I will show you a little of what we do! –

  9. Hi arif,
    I looked at your product colayer on the tour with you. It looks pretty cool and is something with will be easy to get up and running in an organisation. It works much like wave on the sandbox server.

    That google wave is requiring HTML5 is probably to driv people to upgrade to ne browsers.

    The XMPP protocol is to have communication across company borders. And it is a complex feature, but probably very requested.

  10. Would I be wrong to thing that, within Wave, the easy-to-implement footstep are robots? Google probably learned from comparing Android and iPhone platforms that the low-hanging creative entreprises would benefit from a nutured environement, while more ambitious undertaking (e.g. Firefox) needed salaried teams — and revolutions needed walkabouts.

    For thos who’ll actually want to hack Wave itself, rather then compelexity itself, what seems to matter is modularity: if I hack that bit, will everything fall apart. I’d assume this is the mark of the best coders, and Google has wizzards working on that one. As far as I know, no one looked into that specific aspect (for lack of an available global vision) but the mere fact that Google reveals the project modularly seems to indicate Wave is very much so.

  11. Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for exploring Colayer Reception and for your appreciation. Yes, you can say that Colayer is a solution for complex business communications. All tools needed to communicate and work together are embedded into the Colayer platform.

  12. Mickael –
    ProcessOne is a XMPP company :). The rest of the world talks HTTP. I like where wave is taking the web. But the conversation as to if this is teh right approach has just begun. I like XMPP and wave. Operational Transform is clever but complicated. Maybe there is/will be an OT engine that will make it easy for the rest of the world to implement sync.

    I do agree with the basic premise of the article. Its time to redistribute some complexity in web protocols away from applications into standards.

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