Modern Software Experience


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official lingo

It is hard to make sense of Google Wave without learning some Google Wave jargon. There is some jargon you are probably already familiar with, such as web app and inbox, but Google Wave does come with its own peculiar jargon.

This wave jargon is defined and used throughout the Google Wave documentation. Most of it is explained in the Google Wave Architecture. You can look in that document for the definitions from the Google Wave team.

The short explanations below are mine. They are deliberately not in alphabetical order, but in an order that allows you to read from beginning to end.

Google Wave (1)

Google Wave is communication and collaboration platform. It is not really wrong to think of Google Wave as a communication platform with collaborative features, but it makes just as much sense to think of it as collaboration platform with communication features; it was build from the ground up to be both.

Google Wave client

The Google Wave client is the software you use access waves. Right now, the only available Google Wave client is Google’s own web application. However, the system is build on open protocols, so third parties can and probably will develop alternative clients.


Google’s Wave client has four distinct panels; Navigation Panel, Contacts Panel, Search Panel and the Wave panel. It is possible to expand or collapse these panels, but there relative positions are fixed.

Navigation Panel

The navigation panel in the upper left contains various links to navigate through the sea of waves, such as a link to your inbox.

Contacts Panel

The contacts panel in the bottom left contains your Wave contacts.

Search Panel

The search panel in the middle shows a list of waves.

Wave panel

The Wave Panel on the right is where you view and edit waves.

Wave provider

Any server running the Google Wave software is a wave provider.  A wave provider is identified by its internet domain name.

Google Wave (2)

Google Wave is not only the name of the system. It is also the name of the first wave provider open to users.
Google Wave is just one wave provider. It is not the first, but the second wave provider open to users outside Google.

Wave Sandbox

The first wave provider is the Wave Sandbox. This one is for developers to experiment in.


Google Wave is all about waves. The main objects you create, edit and read in Google Wave are called waves. A wave is a threaded conversation objects, not unlike a forum thread on a bulletin board system, or the entire history instant message conversation. Waves can form a hierarchy; one wave can contain another.

Wave ID

Each wave is uniquely identified by its Wave ID. Wave IDs are created automatically, much like many blogging systems generate identifiers for each blog post.


A wavelet is a wave that is part of another, larger wave. Each wave consists of a number of wavelets. The product may be called wave, but the wavelets are the basic building blocks of communication in Google Wave; they are the basic unit of sharing.

wave view

A wave view is a view of a wave. Different users have different views of the same wave. Different users may see different wavelets because they have different rights, and even when they all see the same wavelets, because each user has its own read/unread state for each wavelet.


A wave participant is a user who is participating in a wave. A single wave can have multiple participants, each of witch has its own wave view.

wave store

The wave store is the database that the wave server stores all waves in.


A blip is a single rich-text message within a wave. A blip is not unlike a single instant message. The blips in a Wave form a threaded conversation.


The content of a blip is known as a document. It may seem a useless distinction, and to most users it probably is a useless distinction.


Wave playback is a feature of Google Wave that plays back changes made to Wave in chronological order.

Wave API

The Wave API (Application Programming Interface) is the programmatic interface that allows building wave extensions and embedding waves on web sites.

embedded wave

An embedded wave is a wave that has been embedded on a web site.
Currently, embedded waves can only seen by those who already have a wave account.


Google Wave supports extensions. There are two types of extensions: gadgets and robots. Robots merely automate common tasks, gadgets extend, enhance or change Google Wave in some way.
Robots are so much like human participants that they can modify gadgets. Gadgets cannot modify robots.


According to Google’s documentation, a wave robot is an automated participant in a Wave. In practice a wave robot a Google Wave extension that automates some common tasks. A robot runs in the cloud (which is a fancy way of saying it probably runs on some wave server, but that you need not worry about such details.).


A wave gadget is a Google Wave extensions that extends, enhance or changes Google Wave in some way. A wave gadget runs in the Wave client.

Wave protocol

Wave protocol is the short name for the Google Wave Federation Protocol. The Wave protocol is the communication protocol used by Google Wave. It is an open extension of XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), an Internet standard.

Wave invite

A Wave invite is an invitation from Google to join Google Wave. Wave invites were initially handed out to developers for access to the Wave Sandbox. On 2009 Sep 30, Google sent out invites to those developers and to 100.000 early users for access to the Google Wave Preview. All users invited to the Google Wave Preview got eight nominations to hand out.

Wave nomination

Wave nominations should not be confused with invites. A Wave invite allows the recipient to join Google Wave immediately. A Wave nomination is a suggestion to Google Wave to send out an invite to someone. Google typically takes a few days to process a nomination.


2009-10-22 additions

Added Wave ID, Google Wave (2), Wave Sandbox, Wave invite & Wave nomination, Navigation Panel, Contacts Panel, Search Panel, Wave panel, and a few links.


google wave providers