What Does Clam Chowder & the Google Wave API Have in Common? Boston!

Monday, December 7, 2009 | 9:39 PM

I've always been a fan of Boston, Massachusetts. If I could dig it up and transport it to an eternally warm weather location, it would rank in my top 3 of best cities in the world. It's filled with history (really gruesome stuff like the Salem Witch trials) and creative intellect (the MIT Media Lab is like a playground for nerds), and conveniently enough, 2 members of my immediate family (3, counting my kitty). So, I like to visit it whenever I'm in the states, and since there is now a Massachusetts GTUG, I took the opportunity to co-organize a Google Wave APIs hackathon with them (using a wave to plan it, of course).

On the day of the event, about 60 developers showed up (including my sister, a Drupal developer), and they filled the office cafe up nicely with their laptops and power cords. I kicked it off with a talk called "Understanding & Extending Wave", then Brian Kennish led them through a coding walkthrough of the "click me" gadget and Embeddy robot. We used ustream.tv to stream the the talks and also recorded them, so you can watch them now on Youtube. Then we grabbed lunch and got to coding. There was a never-ending stream of good questions throughout the day, which I captured in the comments wave and later used to fuel our new Google Wave APIs FAQ. There was also a table of people hacking specifically on FedOne, creating agents and getting their own servers running. After everyone had gotten their hands dirty in code for a few hours, I showed extension installers and presented "Making Wave-y Extensions".

After another few hours of hacking, we started demos and wrote them up in this live wave. We were once again using ustream.tv to stream demos, and after tweeting about it, we suddenly had developers from all over the world commenting on the Wave and watching our demos. They hailed from Argentina, Ukraine, and Japan, and used the Yes/No/Maybe gadgets to demand that we wave hello to them on our webcam (and then uploaded a recording of our real lifewave as an attachment!). The local developers showed off nifty demos, like the VoiceChat-9 gadget, Ruby FedOne Agent API, and the Mastermind game gadget. Interning Googler Jonathan Goldberg also showed off beginnings of integration with the just-released Google Fusion Tables. You can watch those demos on Youtube.

It was great to meet Bostonian developers, and it gave me a new reason to love Boston. Hopefully by the time I make my next annual visit, I'll have taught my kitty cat to use Wave. :)