Anatomy of a Wave

November 10th, 2009

There’s alot of buzz at Appirio around Google Wave. Apparently we know people at Google as we have our entire domain on Google Wave. We have teams using it for presales as well as project delivery. Kyle Roche gave a company-wide demo a couple of days ago and it raised a number of questions and topics for discussion.

First off, there is Google “Wave” the product and “wave” the open source protocol. The name stems from the TV series Firefly and movie Serenity in which they communicate via “waves”. Alot of the error and status messages in Google Wave come directly from these shows (e.g., “Everything’s shiny cap’n”).

One topic that drew discussion was “what is a wave”? There a number of entities involved in a wave (e.g., wave, wavlet, blip) and it take a few minutes to wrap your head around it. I thought I’d dive a little deeper into what actually is a wave.

Google’s developer docs visualize a wave as:


Wave – a wave is a threaded, living conversation with multiple participants that acts as a container for all other wave entities. Everything starts with and lives inside the wave and there is only one copy that everyone shares.

Wavlet – a wavlet is a threaded conversation spawned from within a wave. Wavelets can spawn additional wavlets and can be private or public.


Blip – the blip is the basic unit of conversation in a wave. Most of the interaction with Wave is inside the blip. Blips can contain other blips or content defined as documents. Multiple participants can edit a blip. You can see in realtime as other participants make changes. You can also see who made changes to the blip by the photos listed for the blip.


Document – content (photos, videos, PDFs, etc) attached to a blip is called a document.


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Categories: Appirio, Wave

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