lostcarpark: (Lego Spaceman)
I've been playing with Wave for a couple of weeks now, and I think it's a pretty good idea, but it's going to be a while before it's ready for serious use.

First, while the software is pretty good, there are clearly some gaps around the edges, a few features that say "not implemented yet", and a few nice-to-haves. Obviously it's a preview version, so this is to be expected, and I'm sure it will keep getting better and better.

Second, browsers need to develop. Wave can get quite sluggish at times, especially on big Waves (we've got one with 142 messages plus maps, photos and collaborative drawings (using a plug-in called Canvas). It can be a bit of a drag to navigate. Google Chrome has a pretty fast JavaScript engine, which definitely helps - it's noticably faster than Firefox. However, Wave is a protocol as well as a webapp, so I expect it won't be long before we see desktop Wave apps, just like we have desktop email apps, and these will remove Wave from the browser, and make things a bit easier.

Third, Wave has a lot of potential for corporate use, potentially taking business from Microsoft Office Communicator. However, a lot of companies won't want their content on Google's servers. Fortunately, since Wave is a protocol, they'll be able to set up their own Wave server. I'm not sure when the server software to do this will be released.

Finally, as long as the number of users is restricted, it's going to be of limited use. I presume that this is just to facilitate the preview, and as it develops, it's going to be more generally accessible. For now, we seem to be left feeling, this would be great if only Dave was here...

So I think it has huge potential, but it's probably going to take a couple of years to reach it. For now, it's a lot of fun to play with, but playing is all that's really feasible.

Having said that, if you want to come join us and play with it, I have some spare invite codes. Reply here or drop me an email if you'd like one.


Sep. 4th, 2006 10:33 pm
lostcarpark: (Lego Manga Figure)
LiveJournal has a pretty neat "almost Web 2.0" feature that it now saves what you've typed every couple of minutes so that if your PC crashes or your browser goes bananas (as they sometimes do), that the post you've spent hours typing doesn't disappear into the ether. It seems to be working a little too well for me, though, as it just offered to restore the post that I successfully posted last night. Still, better safe than sorry.

This is the sort of incremental development, adding useful features to an existing site that I approve of. Unlike certain other blogging sites that make a big thing of Web 2.0, but turn out to be big on style but somewhat weak on substance.

The next Web 2.0 add-on I'd like to see is a helper for the Tags box, also on the "Update Journal" page. This could be modelled on the address drop-down in GMail, which shows you people's email addresses as you type. When I start to type, I'd like a drop-down list to show a mix of tags I've used that start with the letters I type, combined with the most popular tags on LJ that start with those letters. As I type, the list would further refine itself. There should be something to distinguish tags I've used before from tags I haven't (perhaps colour), and something to indicate how much tags have been used (perhaps font size or a percentage bar). If I select a tag, it would complete it and add a comma so I can start typing another. I think this would be a relatively easy feature to add, but it would make organising posts a lot easier, and help avoid problems like some of my posts being tagged "Doctor Who" while others have "Dr Who".

I am writing a Web 2.0 app of my own, so I can see the point of using the techniques where they are useful and avoiding creating a load of unnecessary hype around it. Web 2.0 is useful, but it is not magic and it won't make your life complete (at least not on it's own).

Perhaps we should call sensible sites like LiveJournal "Web 1.75".


Aug. 23rd, 2006 09:52 pm
lostcarpark: (Lego Spaceman)
First of all, I have five Vox invites if anyone's looking for one.

I expect I'm late to the game, and everyone who wants one probably has one by now. I had applied for one directly, then [livejournal.com profile] dougs gave me one (thanks), and today I got an email with the invite I'd originally applied for (so that probably makes six).

The site has some nice features, but all the Web 2.0 interactivity and funkiness isn't quite as smooth as I would have hoped. There's quite a places where more clicks than seem necessary are required. On the main profile editing page, you can see some details like country and gender, but you have to go to another page to actually edit them.

The thing that really bugs me, though, is the fixed width layout. The page is a certain number of pixels wide, and that's it. If your browser window is wider than that, you get grey bars down the sides (like a widescreen telly in 4:3 mode). If it's too narrow, too bad, you have to keep scrolling left and right to read it. Ugh.

I haven't got as far as customising the layout, but it seems a lot less flexible than LJ. LJ let's you take almost total control of the look of your journal. I built my own S2 style, and there's very little you can't do (except for putting dodgy things like Javascript on the page). For that matter, if you wanted to, you could make a fixed width S2 style and annoy your users the way Vox do.

The other thing I find a bit annoying is the "Neighborhood" (they really should have thought about that one - there must be lots of words that mean the same thing but have a spelling that doesn't annoy every English speaker outside the US). But apart from the word itself, I find it really difficult to find people I know who have Vox accounts. In LJ, it was real easy when I started to just look at my friends' friends lists and pick out people I knew. But when I look at peoples' profiles in Vox, it only seems to show a couple of their friends, so it's difficult to find people. I can type in email addresses, but most people I know have several, so how do I know which one they used?

A really neat feature would be to have a field where I could type in my LJ name (replicate for other popular community sites), and it would store it in my profile. I could then go to a page where it would look up my LJ profile, and find anyone from my FL who has registered an LJ name in Vox. That wouldn't be too hard, would it?

Anyway, I don't want to only focus on the bad points. There are some nice things about it, and most of the problems are fixable. There are quite a few things I'd love to see LJ copy too. We don't need LJ to go totally Web 2.0 (a stupid term - it's just a website with some flashy bits), but a few little bits here and there could work wonders. My first suggestion is to add a Google-style auto-suggeston drop-down to the tags box when posting.

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