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Catch a Google Wave with Waveboard

I’m a big fan of Mailplane, Uncomplex’s WebKit wrapper for Gmail, because it maintains Gmail’s clever interface tricks while adding integration with Mac-specific capabilities like drag-and-drop attachments, Growl notifications, and a built-in screenshot capability. Even better, Mailplane extracts Gmail from the overwhelming morass of open tabs in my Web browser, which is key – I think of email and Web browsing as entirely different tasks, and want them in different applications on the Mac.

So when I heard that a new application called Waveboard promised to provide the same sort of magic for Google Wave, for which I’d recently gotten an invite, I jumped at the chance to download the Mac version of Waveboard.

Written by Dirk Holtwick, Waveboard 0.9 is at the moment a rather simple application, since all it really does is display the Google Wave Web page and tie into various system resources. But as with so many Mac applications, it’s the little touches that make it successful. To wit:

  • Most important for keeping you thinking about Google Wave, Waveboard provides notification of updates. If you don’t know you have something to read in Google Wave, you may go days without checking in. Waveboard offers three optional notification methods: Growl, a count in the Dock icon badge, and a count in a system status menu. This count reflects the number of changes, not changed waves, and can thus be quite high. To reset it, you have to mark a wave as read, or use the Space bar to jump to each change, marking it read and moving on.
  • Although Google Wave offers its own keyboard shortcuts, Waveboard translates some of those into Mac-specific shortcuts, so you can stick with your Command key-based muscle memory.
  • Waveboard offers an option to open the waves that were open as of the last time you quit, which makes it a bit easier to orient yourself each time you come in to Google Wave.
  • With the addition of Google Gears, Waveboard provides drag-and-drop support for files you want to attach to a wave. The official version of Google Gears isn’t yet available for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (it is Leopard-compatible), but Uncomplex has made a patched version of Google Gears that does work in Snow Leopard. This patched version works only with 32-bit applications like Mailplane and Waveboard, and basically just removes the Mac OS X version check.
  • If you want to share a link to a wave with someone via email or iChat, Waveboard provides a Copy Wave ID command that loads that particular wave when clicked. Of course, it works only if the recipient also has Waveboard, which registers itself as the helper application for wave: URLs.
  • Though I can’t say that I see wanting to do this often, Waveboard makes it easy to print an entire wave, something that’s impossible in normal Web browsers, which don’t understand how to present the entire wave as its own document.

I can’t pretend to be an expert on Google Wave yet. But as various TidBITS staffers get on, we’re playing with it more to see how it fits into the Internet communication and collaboration space. If you’re also trying to wrap your head around what Google Wave makes possible, give Waveboard a try, since it makes integrating Google Wave into your everyday life significantly easier.

Waveboard requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later, and it’s a 915 KB download. The program is free; Dirk Holtwick hasn’t said whether he plans to charge for it in the future as far as I’ve seen.

Dirk has also released a $0.99 iPhone version of Waveboard that lets you work with Google Wave without Safari’s browser controls taking up any screen space. A yet-to-be-approved version of the iPhone app will add push notification and an option to see a read-only list of the most recent waves as soon as the app launches.

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