Google Open Sources Google Wave Code

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Google programmers have ‘open sourced’ two components of the Google Wave messaging and collaboration prototype

Google programmers continue to advance the Google Wave prototype application, which strives to put email, instant messaging communication and file-sharing collaboration functionality in one palette.

Google said last Friday it released to open source the Operational Transform (OT) code – the framework that enables multiple people to edit a single document in real time across a wide area network (WAN) – as well as a basic client/server prototype that uses the Wave protocol.

Google Wave programmers issued the code under an Apache 2.0 license during an event hosted for 150 developers who desired a deeper dive into the software and possibly even to develop code for the Google Wave Federation Protocol.

The Google Wave Federation Protocol is an open extension to the XMPP core protocol, geared to allow near real-time communication of wave updates between two wave servers.

Google Wave programmers said the OT code comprises the “heart and soul” of collaboration functionality in Google Wave, and is intended to encourage experimentation using the Google Wave Federation Protocol. The release included roughly 40,000 lines of Java code, which Google expects to evolve into the reference implementation.

“While these are still early days for the federation protocol and open source project, our vision for Wave recognises the importance of encouraging and promoting third-party implementations, so users and businesses are able to customize and manage everything from the ground up (features, data, etc.),” wrote Jochen Bekmann and Sam Thorogood, software engineers for Google Wave, in a blog post.

The programmers said the Operational Transformation algorithm for Wave is ahead of the algorithm implemented in Google’s servers in production. Accordingly, the Google Wave team is working to bring the new Operational Transform code up to speed in the company’s own production systems. Google is also opening up the federation port on

Major companies continue to leverage the open-source XMPP messaging technology. Cisco acquired the Jabber, whose instant messaging client is based on XMPP, in the hopes of adding real-time instant messaging and even Twitter-like status updates to its WebEx Connect collaboration suite.

XMPP is also considered by Anil Dash, vice president for blogging software company Six Apart, to be one of the precursor technologies to what he calls the Pushbutton Web.

The Pushbutton Web is basically a technological direction Dash characterises as any site or application that “can deliver real-time messages to a web-scale audience, using free and open technologies at low cost and without relying on any single company like Twitter or Facebook.”

Google Wave specialises in delivering real-time instant messages using open-source technologies, so it falls into Dash’s Pushbutton Web. Indeed, Daniel D. Shaw responded to Dash’s blog post with the connection: “Actually, I think the Google Wave protocol will go a long way toward enabling these types of interactions.”

Federation Day and the open-sourced Wave code come one day after the Google Wave API Hackathon, after which some 6,000 developers were able to test the application. Several testers wrote favourably about the software in their blogs, but noted the app was still quite rough.

Google plans to open Google Wave to 100,000 non-developer users 30 September, so the company is doing a lot of work to fortify the application for the general public.