Modern Software Experience


Google Wave logo

Google Wave



Google Wave was introduced during the Google I/O on 2009 May 27. Until September 30, it was only available to developers. Developers got access to the Wave Sandbox. Links to six articles based on the developer preview are below.


Everyone could (and still can) sign up for a Google Wave account. The main Google Wave system went live on September 30. Developers received an invitation to join Google Wave on their Wave Sandbox account. Google sent out an additional 100.000 invitations to the first wave of early users, picked from all those who had registered.


All who received a Google Wave invite from Google, both the developers and the early users, are allowed to invite 8 others. However, those who receive such an invite are not able to invite anyone else in turn. If you got an original Google Wave invite, you can invite your friends, but they cannot invite their friends. Predictably, a lively trade ensued. Even before the invites went out, they were trading on eBay for roughly $70.


developer invitation

Developers received their invitation in the Wave Sandbox.

Google Developer Preview Invitation

The URL shown in the invitation is real. That is what a Google Wave invite URL looks like. Now, this particular URL was not meant for anyone but me. I did not forget to blur or modify it, but did not bother to do so, because I do not need to hide it from anyone. As the last line of the invitation notes, the URL is a one-time use invitation URL - and I used it already.

sign in

You will probably receive your invitation as an email from Google or a friend. When you follow the invite link, you land on the Google Wave sign in page.

This is what the Google Wave sign in page looks like. The sign in page invites you to log into Google Wave using your Google account.

Google Wave Sign In

not activated

You do not only need a Google Account to use Google Wave, you need an invitation too. If you log in with your Google account, but have not received a Google Wave invitation, you will get to see a page that tells you that your Google Account has not yet been activated for Google Wave.

Google Wave Not Activated

If you follow the Learn More link under the text Your Google account has not yet been activated for Google Wave, you arrive on the I have a Google Account. Why can't I sign in? page.

Google Wave: Why can't I sign in?


If you follow the invite link to Google Wave, the Google Wave Sign In page will look slightly different than it looks to random visitors. The page confirms that you followed an real invite link by replacing the text Communicate and collaborate in real time with you’ve been invited to Google Wave.
If you get this page, you just need to sign in.

Google Wave You haven been invited

Internet Explorer

web browser required

What happens when you are invited and sign in for the first time depends on whether you are using a web browser or Internet Explorer. Google Wave requires a real web browser, which Internet Explorer is not.

If you are using a web browser already, you can start using Google Wave. If you are using Internet Explorer instead of a web browser, you will be prompted to either switch to a web browser or install the Chrome Frame plug-in.

Google Wave in Internet Explorer: Please install Chrome Frame

Chrome Frame

The Chrome Frame is a plug-in adds support for web standards to Internet Explorer. The article Chrome Frame Basics is a user-level introduction that explains this in some detail.

Google Chrome Frame Early Release

Just click the Get Google Chrome Frame button to start the installation of the plug-in. Once the install of Chrome Frame is done, you can use Google Wave in Internet Explorer.

Google Chrome Frame installing

Getting Started

When Google Wave started, there wasn’t much to help the initial users out. Developers had to make do with the video of the Google I/O conference and whatever others had published about Google Wave.

The initial Wave experience has improved a lot. There are several waves in your inbox to help you off to a flying start.

Google Wave First Page

Welcome to Google Wave

The wave Welcome to Google Wave by Dr Wave is particularly nice. As the screenshot shows, it contains a short video with Dr Wave pointing out the various user interface elements while introducing them.

Google Wave Dr Wave introduction


With the Inbox taking up a large part of the screen, the wave box was just a bit to narrow to play the the video in. The various boxes on the wave screen have controls in their upper right corner that work much like those in Windows.

I collapsed the Inbox to provide the wave box with plenty of horizontal space. The collapsed inbox is still onscreen, next to the Google Wave Preview logo now, with controls to expand it again.


In the next screenshot, I collapsed the contact box, as it was empty anyway. The contact box will fill up with your Google contacts as they sign into Google Wave for the first time. When you first sign in, it will show all your Google contacts that have signed into Google Wave already. If you invite someone else to Google Wave, they will see your avatar in their contact box.

Getting Started

There is a Getting Started wave in your inbox.

Google Wave Getting Started

The Getting Started wave contains several short videos that show how to perform basic operations, and a link to the Google Wave help centre.

When to use Google Wave

There is a lot of buzz about getting into Google Wave, but the big question once you are in is what to use it for. The wave Welcome to Google Wave links to several other waves. The wave When to use Google Wave discusses some of the things Google Wave is good for. It suggests that you could use Google Wave for organising events, meeting notes, group reports, writing projects, brainstorming and photo sharing.

Google Wave: When to use Google Wave

Invite Others

If you received your Google Wave invite directly from Google, you will see a wave titled Invite Others to Google Wave. It allows you to invite up to eight others to Google Wave. Those you invite are not be able to invite others in turn.

Google Wave: Invite Others

get invited

I have a few Wave invites to give away and am doing so on Twitter. Tweet me a message begging, pleading, cajoling or bribing me for one. Be funny and original within 140 characters. No direct messages, no SuperTweets and nothing illegal. I will send out invites at my whim.


Google Wave

Google Wave Developer Preview

Chrome Frame