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Enjoy NetWeaver BPM – Part 2: A Gravity Wave Comes to Galaxy

With this blog posting, I would like to make you aware of a project I am personally very excited about: Gravity – Collaborative Business Process Modelling within Google Wave (find a screen cam video here). Here is why: Gravity is a real-time, collaborative process modeling environment, embedded in Google Wave. Gravity let’s you collaboratively modeling BPMN-based business processes, supporting some “cool” collaboration features, namely:

  • Gravity lives as a JavaScript gadget in Wave and as such, runs in any decent Web Browser (good JavaScript performance can’t hurt, though). It is truly leightweight and can be added to any “Wave” (threaded discussion in Google Wave). 
  • Color coding: all model contributors (current or past Wave participants) have their own color. Shapes will (optionally) be annotated with a colored shadow, indicating the contributor who has most recently edited the shape.
  • Real-time distribution of state changes: Fine-granular state changes such as adding, moving, deleting, (re-)labelling and connecting BPMN shapes are communicated to other contributors in real time, who see those changes (almost) immediately on screen.
  • Shapes can be labelled with annotations which are either visible for all Wave participants or a selected model contributor, only. Annotations can also be replied to, having a threaded discussion feature within the gadget itself.
  • A number of “bots” (server-side artificial Wave participants with full access to the BPMN model) contribute convenience functions such as model checking, BPMN 2.0 export – with more to come (stay tuned!).
  • Contributors can be pulled in on demand and may both work on the model synchronously (i.e., at the same time) or asynchronously de-coupled (i.e., at different points in time) which is great if contributors work at remote locations in different time zones. 
  • Google Wave’s built-in “replay” function allows you to follow the model’s formation in fast-forward mode. In this way, additional contributors can better understand how the model has evolved over time.  

Gravity is an innovation prototype, jointly conceived and implemented by NetWeaver BPM Research and Development (Walldorf, Germany) and SAP Research (Brisbane, Australia), key persons being:

Sören Balko (NetWeaver BPM R&D)
Alex Dreiling (SAP Research)
Kathrin Fleischmann (SAP Research)
Osvaldo Cocucci (SAP Research)
Christina Heider (SAP Research)

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  • Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your views. The product looks really promising and I hope a beta will be available soon to test drive. Any planned dates for beta release?
    • Hi Shehryar,

      thanks for the encouraging feedback!

      We are currently evaluating productization options but – at this point – cannot provide a timeline for a beta, yet.


  • This is excellent work. Google Wave is set to turn things as we know it on it’s head! It great to see SAP harnessing the power of this ‘wave’.

    Collaborative BPM with Google Wave is a superb start but I can’t help but feel that SAP should invest a lot more in Google Wave together with the entire SAP Product Portfolio.

    I have a good feeling about the future of Google Wave & it’s adoption rate 🙂

  • Hi, really impressive work, I have Google Wave and would like to try Gravity out, could you please supply the URL for adding the  gadget to a wave?

    Thanks a million

  • To me, the “magic” is in the gadget that was created, not necessarily Google Wave itself.  I would think that this gadget (or derivative versions of it) could be hosted in lots of different ways with some trivial web session state shared between collaborators.   I think you guys deserve most of the credit, and Google Wave is just part of the supporting cast!

    Well done.