Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New And Shiny

When Google announced that they were pulling the plug on Wave, one of the replacement options was Novell Pulse. At the time it was not available to the public yet, so I signed up to be notified when they were ready to accept new users. I got the email today and as usual with something new and shiny, I wasted way too much time with Novell's new toy, which has been renamed to Vibe.

First thing I noticed was that Vibe has nice, tidy URLs compared to Wave which had truly monstrous URLs. This makes it easier to find people and groups. Vibe's group feature makes it easier to create communities with a common interest. This capability was lacking in Wave. When Wave first opened to the public, it had no permission system at all and it had to be developed quickly once the trolls showed up. I was glad to see that Vibe will not have this problem. It's permission system is very good, which is not surprising as Novell hopes to sell Vibe to the enterprise market.

Vibe's web UI is a little confusing at times. For example, I'm in a group and select a topic to read. When I'm done with the topic and I want to go back to the group, I either had to reselect the group from the "Who I follow" panel, or click the group name in the topic's participant banner. Neither of these options is that great if your "Who I follow" list is long or there are many participants in the topic.

Wave's best feature was the support for gadgets and robots. Vibe has both as well. Currently, there are only five known gadgets. You can enter an URL for a gadget, and Wave gadgets are supposed to work, so I tried a couple. At first it did not work, but then I realized that the URL was getting munged by the copy and paste. Once I sorted that out, both gadgets worked! I was quite impressed as these are quite complex gadgets. I'll have to test some more to find out just how well they work but this looks promising.

Robots, or remote applications as they are called in Vibe, are a different story. Simply, there are none at the moment. Remote applications have to be registered in Vibe by the site administrator, which implies that some kind of developer registration process would be required as well. I haven't found any indication that Novell has called for developers yet.

The source for Vibe is here. Apparently it used to call Teaming. How many names has it had? The source contains examples for a remote application, but I stopped short of downloading it because Vibe is written in Java (why! why!) and requires Tomcat (runs screaming from the room!). Thankfully, remote applications can be written in any language since they communicates with Vibe over HTTP. The developer documentation is here.

Finally, Vibe is still very much beta software and the site went down while I was checking things as wrote this post. User beware!

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