One of the great prospects of Google Wave has been the ability to develop embeddable widgets enabling users to extend the functionality and add the features that they need to a wave. While Google Wave is still in private beta, though there are over one million users by now, there was a need for them to be able to find these extensions easier and for developers to get more exposure. This is why Google is now launching the Google Wave Extensions Gallery, an online repository of useful add-ons for the communications platform.
"We've just rolled out an initial version of our extensions gallery: simply look for ‘Extensions’ in the navigation panel of Google Wave. The gallery is intended to make it easier for users to discover the fun and useful extensions you all are building with the Google Wave APIs," Dan Peterson, Google Wave product manager, wrote.
Extensions have been central to the design and ideas behind Google Wave. With its goal of being an open platform available to all, there was a clear need for a way to easily create and custom functionality that would cater to the individual needs of a user or organization.
There are two types of extensions for Google Wave, robots and gadgets. Robots are actual participants to a wave and are meant to automate tasks and respond to certain events or conditions. Gadgets are more like traditional widgets, they are stand-alone apps that live inside a wave.
Users will be able to find both types of extensions in the new gallery. An interesting thing about the gallery is that it's actually built using Google Wave. "The gallery is simply a set of waves containing extension installers (the puzzle pieces). The first wave, 'Read me first' contains an introduction to extensions and how to use them," Peterson explained. This approach has advantages but also disadvantages and the whole thing feels a bit experimental at this stage, something Google readily admits.