Skip to main content

How To Understand Wavelets

I got acquainted with developing against the Google Wave Preview last week, and I'll be doing more of it this week. There are still many gaps in the documentation and in the public understanding of what exactly is going on in a lot of cases. This post is halfway between an introduction to Wave development and a story of my personal hurdles in my first experiments working with it.

One of the first things you'll find in the Wave documentation is a diagram I have reproduced here. This diagram is wrong.


You're going to notice something when you look at this diagram and play around with Wave itself, the web client. You're going to realize you have no idea what the difference between a Wave and a Wavelet is. You don't seem to be able to even see the term "Wavelet" appear anywhere in the application! What's more, everything the API docs describe a Wavelet as is what the UI seems to call a Wave. This was really confusing to me and I know I'm not the only one confused.

It took me a little bit of time to get the perspective to understand what I missed. Correcting my diagram with that information produces this:


See what was missing there? The missing piece was the all-too-subtle connection, not between Wave and Wavelet, but between individual waves. The official documentation diagram places the waves in parallel and mislead me to look in the wrong mindset for the distinction between Wave and Wavelet in the presentation context.

So how does this pan out in the user interface of Wave? Private replies. A private reply to any blip/reply will create a new Wavelet with two participants: the creator of the blip you reply to and yourself. (Actually, you can create a single-participant child wavelet if you reply to yourself privately.)

I'd like to try some experiments and see if and how the interface would present setups like a child wavelet with completely different participants from the parent wavelet. I'm investigating the use of these as sort of hidden data channels in a Wave. For example, the Robot I am developing might store some auxiliary data about the waves it gets used in via private replies to itself. 

Now, since I'm probably going to be spending a good bit more time with Google Wave in the weeks to come, I expect to document more of the things I'll learn along the way. If you're interested, let me know what you're doing or thinking about doing with Wave.

Comments

Cory said…
Your diagrams are not public documents, so they don't come through as images.
Calvin Spealman said…
Thanks, Cory. Fixed.

That's what I get for thinking the publish feature from Google Docs to Google Blogger would actually work right for once.

Popular posts from this blog

Respect and Code Reviews

Code Reviews in a development team only function best, or possible at all, when everyone approaches them with respect. That’s something I’ve usually taken for granted because I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing developers who shine not just in their technical skills but in their interpersonal skills on a team. That isn’t always the case, so I’m going to put into words something that often exists just in assumptions.
You have to respect your code. This is first only because the nature and intent of code reviews are to safeguard the quality of your code, so even having code reviews demonstrates a baseline of respect for that code. But, maybe not everyone on the team has the same level of respect or entered a team with existing review traditions that they aren’t acquainted with.
There can be culture shock when you enter a team that’s really heavy on code reviews, but also if you enter a team or interact with a colleague who doesn’t share that level of respect for the process or…

On Pruning Your Passions

We live in a hobby-rich world. There is no shortage of pastimes to grow a passion for. There is a shortage of one thing: time to indulge those passions. If you're someone who pours your heart into that one thing that makes your life worthwhile, that's a great deal. But, what if you've got no shortage of interests that draw your attention and you realize you will never have the time for all of them?

If I look at all the things I'd love to do with my life as a rose bush I'm tending, I realize that careful pruning is essential for the best outcome. This is a hard lesson to learn, because it can mean cutting beautiful flowers and watching the petals fall to the ground to wither. It has to be done.

I have a full time job that takes a lot of my mental energy. I have a wife and a son and family time is very important in my house. I try to read more, and I want to keep up with new developments in my career, and I'm trying to make time for simple, intentional relaxing t…

CARDIAC: The Cardboard Computer

I am just so excited about this.


CARDIAC. The Cardboard Computer. How cool is that? This piece of history is amazing and better than that: it is extremely accessible. This fantastic design was built in 1969 by David Hagelbarger at Bell Labs to explain what computers were to those who would otherwise have no exposure to them. Miraculously, the CARDIAC (CARDboard Interactive Aid to Computation) was able to actually function as a slow and rudimentary computer. 
One of the most fascinating aspects of this gem is that at the time of its publication the scope it was able to demonstrate was actually useful in explaining what a computer was. Could you imagine trying to explain computers today with anything close to the CARDIAC?

It had 100 memory locations and only ten instructions. The memory held signed 3-digit numbers (-999 through 999) and instructions could be encoded such that the first digit was the instruction and the second two digits were the address of memory to operate on. The only re…