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Ten gadgets to make Google Wave more productive - and fun!

It's still early days for Google Wave but already there are a large number of Gadgets and Robots being developed. If you don't know the difference, Gadgets are local, client-side (as in they run on your computer), Javascript and HTML. Robots run remotely on another server.

Gadgets change how you interact with waves, whereas robots process your input in some way or pull in data from another service (such as Twitter or Wikipedia). Robots are generally more powerful, but Gadgets are more fun.

This article is all about Gadgets. There will be another one on Robots soon: you folk that want to aggregate your Twitter and RSS feeds into Wave will have to wait a little longer! It's surprisingly hard to find good gadgets for Wave at the moment, so hold onto this guide even if you've not yet been invited to the beta.

Note: You should bear in mind that these are all 'beta' gadgets. A lot of them work just fine but you might hit some bugs along the way. The 'direct import links' might also change at any time, so feel free to report any broken links!

1. Napkin -- Collaborative drawing (info link -- direct import link)
The first thing you notice with Wave is that everything is collaborative. Sure, you could write a gadget that only displays things locally... but then why use Wave? So if you can think of something that needs to be done collaboratively -- say brainstorming, or planning a trip -- then Wave is perfect. It will be the closest you can get to someone without actually meeting in real life.

Napkin lets you draw or plot or mind map -- it's simple, and works well. If you want something more serious/juicy, there's a great Vector Editor gadget also.

2. Ribbit -- VoIP calls and conferencing (info link / no direct link)

Free for only a limited time, so you might want to give this a go now -- or at least get it downloaded for future conferencing you might need to do. It's a little weird seeing this gadget from Ribbit available already, considering they are competitors to Google's Voice service. But I assume Google will bring out their own similar gadget in due course. Very neat little gadget -- removes the need to keep another application like Skype open.

Wave is going to centralize your activity on the Web, one gadget or robot at a time. Consolidation and aggregation make up Google's primary gameplan!

3. 6rounds -- 1-on-1 video/audio conferencing (info link / direct import link)

Warning: video is a bit obnoxious, but it gives you a good idea of what this gadget does.

Are you beginning to see the power of Wave's extensibility as a communication platform? Are you starting to admire just how much of your life you'll be able to bring together into Google? Are you a little worried about just how much of your time online will be Google-centric...?

This gadget it self is pretty neat -- it brings you and another person into a video conference, but it's more than just webcam-chat. You should watch the video if you want to see the neat things you can do with it!

4. Suduku -- Collaborative time-waster (info link / direct import link)

The video is for the Developer version of Wave, but other than the first 10 seconds, it's accurate, so just give it a watch! Or, if you know how Suduku is played, just go ahead and add this fun gadget. Collaborative Suduku, who would've thought it! Fun for all the family! I wonder how quickly you can finish one puzzle if 10 people are doing it?

You're scored points for every correct number you input, and lose them for every mistake you make. Mind-numbing, time-wasting bliss.

5. Wave Dice -- Dice-rolling for role-playing games (info link / direct import link)

If you're a nerd like me (a proper nerd -- a roleplaying nerd), one of the first things you'll do upon entering the world of Wave is... start a roleplaying game. Every roleplaying game needs a dice roller. This one seems to do the trick just fine. There are others, but none seem to be as well-maintained as this... and this one even has a video, if you weren't sure how to roll some dice...

Does exactly what it says on the tin. No wave is complete without a way to break deadlocks!

6. Fridge Magnet Poetry -- Collaborative time-waster (info link / direct import link)

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a 'rude words' option...or even a way to select what words you get to play with. Perhaps they are randomized each time you import the gadget? I seemed to have 'tied' and 'bruised' every time I tried though...

Great for relieving a little stress when the blips aren't coming so easily. Just drag-and-drop and see what pops up!

7. Retro Chat -- Old-style instant-messenger chat (info link -- direct import link)

You would think that such a gadget is entirely useless, considering Wave is basically being designed to remove such instant-messaging but... I think there's a place for it. It's quicker than adding new blips to a wave. It also renders faster and requires a lot less resources than the bottomless threaded tree that most waves devolve into.

And don't forget the proof of concept: with a robot, this kind of gadget could easily be used to connect into other chat networks like IRC, ICQ or AIM!

8. Mind Map -- Map... your mind... collaboratively! (info link / direct import link)

If you need a little more structure than the Napkin gadget, then the Mind Map gadget is a great idea. It still has a lot of work to go, but it's certainly fully-featured enough to use today for brainstorming and project planning -- or even a road map for development.

You can vote nodes up or down, delete or shunt around. There's also the option to add one of a large variety of icons to each node, to better illustrate its role, as shown in the screenshot above.

9. Code Snippet -- Syntax highlighting and code editing (Wave link / no direct link)

A lot of gadgets are only available through Wave itself (i.e. not on a website) -- and as Wave's a big, wild, thick-and-almost-impenetrable jungle at the moment, it can be hard to ween out the good ones. This one is lovely -- but you'll need Wave to view the info page! And you can't install it via a direct XML link either! You must install it as an Extension first.

It seems to have syntax highlighting for every major language -- even Clojure, Haskell and... Ada. As a nice 'bonus' it also lets you lock code snippets too... to prevent those pesky blip editors who think they can write better code than you!

10. Mappy -- Google Maps... in Wave! Collaborative! (info link -- direct import link)

Ah... how better to while away the hours than mocking up plans for world domination! Or better yet... planning your itinerary for a trip abroad! Or dividing up territories between you and the other wavers! Combine it with another gadget like Likey and you could easily use Wave to keep track of your favorite -- or most hated -- companions. Like an address book... or hit list.

No gadget compilation would be complete without a mapping tool. All of the usual Google Maps functionality is here -- including the 4 different map types, and the ability to search for places/towns/businesses around the world. But as you can see, its best use is plotting how best to deal with Jay and Lee with an army of furries from my stronghold here in the UK.

Got a favorite Wave gadget of your own? Share it in the comments!

Tags: gadgets, google wave, GoogleWave