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Open source programmers who have been working to keep Google Wave alive hit a significant milestone today by submitting their open source Wave code to the Apache Software Foundation, The Register reports.

After a rocky launch and apparent difficulties in convincing users to try it out, Google announced that ended development on its much-hyped Wave collaboration tool back in August. Google Maps and Wave creator Lars Rasmussen has since joined Facebook.

Most well-known for the popular Apache web server, the Apache Foundation is home to nearly 100 open source projects. The Google Wave team previously announced that it was working on open sourcing the defunct service by combining the Wave server and client into something called “Wave in a Box.” Programmers from Novell and elsewhere joined in on the open source Wave initiative at the Google Wave Protocol site, and from there they submitted their work to the Apache Software Foundation.

The code is currently an incubator project at the foundation, which the Register describes as “a phase ASF projects pass through before becoming full-fledged projects.” There the foundation delves into the legal requirements of the code and builds a community around the project. By bringing the Wave project to Apache, the project will be able to attract even more contributors in a better controlled environment.

The submission document for the project points out that the code submitted to Apache is a combination of mature code from Wave proper, and immature integration code from Wave in a Box. The document says it “is quickly becoming highly functional and is already in a very ‘demoable’ state.” The first Wave Protocol Summit was recently held in San Francisco and was attended by developers from several countries, companies and organizations.

Unlike fellow VentureBeat writer Anthony Ha, I didn’t take too much joy in Wave’s demise. I’ve been using Wave in small collaborative groups since it was released (mainly to prepare my technology podcast with my co-hosts), and I’ve yet to find a better tool for collaborating among a few people. I can certainly see why Google dumped the project though — nobody was ever very clear about what it could be used for, in particular Google itself. At least now Wave has the chance to live on as something anybody can deploy — which was exactly what Google wanted from the beginning anyway.

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