Which Help Authoring Tool developer will be the first to integrate Google Wave into its application?

Google Wave, the latest tool in development at Google, offers workflow and collaboration capabilities that will be of interest to technical documentation teams. With Google Wave’s open API, there’s the potential for developers of Help Authoring Tools to integrate Wave into its application and into published Help.

The first 50 minutes of the video below demonstrates Wave’s capabilities:


 

We can see a number of potential applications in technical documentation:

1. Embedded into online Help. Here the potential benefits are in providing real time conversational support for users within online Help.

2. Managing documentation projects. Wave could make the process of gathering information from Subject Matter Experts and reviewing drafts a little easier, through its collaborative documents capabilities. Also, the playback feature offers a new approach to version control.

3. Re-use of content. Wave appears to turn messages and replies into components. You can drag and drop chunks of email threads into other conversations, Blogs, bug tracking software and elsewhere. Could these, perhaps, be embedded into online Help in a useful way?

4. Multi authoring. More than one author can edit the document at the same time.

5. Drag and drop hyperlinking.

Wave has some very attractive capabilities, and it is something we should all await with interest.

3 Comments

Mark Levitt

Wave looks impressive. However, I’m worried about letting Google, however benevolent they seem, becoming the sole provider of all my data.

Wave is being positioned as the modern version of e-mail. However, e-mail is a distributed system that anyone can set up an control. Many different e-mail servers are available, most open source, some proprietary and they run on almost every computer platform available.

I know they’ve said others will be able to set up their own Wave servers, but it’s not clear if it will be something Google sells (like their search appliances) or if it will be open to all.

Ideally, I’d like to see a model like WordPress. WordPress.com hosts blogs for people, but you can also download the WordPress application and run it on your own system.

OK, rant over… I agree it is exciting technology with many possibilities. It certainly drives home the point that technical writing is going to have to move away from the idea of single-shot publishing of books.

Cecily

Interesting, but too long a video to watch right now.

It sounds as if there is some overlap in functionality with SharePoint, but even though Wave is open source, I doubt companies such as mine would consider moving over soon, because they have invested so much in it. However, knowing about Wave might raise pertinent questions about how we use SharePoint. In particular, I find SharePoint very muddled; I wonder if Wave will be clearer?

Keith Johnson

Really nice blog post, many thanks. Yes, it will be interesting to see the scope of the Google Development Application and exactly which Help vendors (e.g. Adobe Robohelp and Author-It, etc.) will build some hooks to be able to work with this new technology. My guess is that Adobe will be the first, just knowing and seeing their commitment to being on the cutting edge of Help and documentation in general.

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