1 Wave Sandbox, 5 Hours, 17 Awesome Demos

Thursday, June 11, 2009 | 10:45 PM

On May 28th, the second day of Google I/O, we unveiled Google Wave as a developer preview. But, we'd never actually had non-Google developers use it, and we were eager to see how it'd play out... So, on the Friday after I/O, about 60 developers assembled down at Google HQ for the very first Google Wave API hackathon.

After five hours of hacking and ad-hoc discussions with members of the Wave APIs team, there were a whopping 17 demos to show off. We were awed by how enthusiastically developers dove in to the APIs that day, and excited to see what they created. Their accomplishments were especially amazing as no one had even used the product prior to the hackathon.

Evan Cooke kicked off the demos with an amazing app that showed off the Twilio API by calling a phone number from a Wave, transcribing the conversation to text, and pasting it back into the wave. Andres Ferrate, who had never before programmed in Python or App Engine, showed off the first monetizing extension: a robot that searched Amazon for DVDs and books, and gave him a cut of any purchases made off the links.

Takashi Matsuo, who only showed up halfway through the afternoon, showed his simple but adorable app, a robot named 'Kay' that responds to you in a scrambled version of your original message, akin to baby talk. This robot is named after Takashi's upcoming product launch - a daughter named Kay. We believe 'Kay' to be the first Wave robot named after a future human.

Two developers demonstrated musically inclined gadgets; Dave Peck with his Dum Drumz" gadget, and Yasushi Ando with an HTML5-powered Piano gadget. The two have since collaborated to create the first collaborative Wave band.

Several of the Google engineers had stuff to show as well. David Byttow, lead on the Python Client library, showed off "Monty", an app that runs Python code and evaluates CALC macros. We suspect that this is just another of David's attempts to prove Python is the best language ever, but it was a great demo nonetheless. Alex North, a backend API engineer, showed off a bot based on the classic "Alice" AI. When Alex told Alice that "Google Wave is the shit", she responded, "But is it the only one?" Touché.

At the end of all the demos (too many to describe here!), Lars thanked all the developers and said, "I was so happy after seeing the first two demos, I nearly cried." We were all awed by how enthusiastically the developers dove into the APIs that day, and the great stuff they came up with in such a short period of time. We're hoping to replicate the awesomeness at the upcoming Google Wave API Day in Sydney on June 19th, and perhaps see some Australian themed extensions (Kangaroo-ey? Matey?).

We won't be able to personally organize hackathons all over the world, but we encourage co-located Wave developers to hold their own events and share the results. Always ahead of the trends, a group of Japanese developers held a meetup last week and shared their photos in a Wave.

If you're a developer that's eager to hack on Wave, read through the documentation, check out the various samples, and make sure to request sandbox access. A few enterprising developers have even created Google Wave gadget emulators, so you can get started hacking before you even have access. Have fun, and let us know in the forum if you have questions or problems.

(Note: Some of the links in this blogpost require WaveSandbox.com access to view.)