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WebGL Standard To Bring 3D Acceleration To Browsers? 239

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the need-faster-delivery-of-js-already dept.
Several sources are reporting that while native audio/video support has been dropped from the HTML 5 spec, the Khronos Group has released a few details about their up and coming WebGL 3D acceleration standard. "The general principle behind WebGL is to offer a JavaScript binding to the group's OpenGL ES 2.0 system, allowing code run within the browser to access the graphics hardware directly in the same way as a standalone application can. As the technology would rely solely on JavaScript to do the heavy lifting, no browser plugin would be required — and it would be compatible with any browser which supports the scripting language alongside the HTML 5 'Canvas' element."
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WebGL Standard To Bring 3D Acceleration To Browsers?

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  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:17PM (#28991543) Homepage
    >>> Does WebGL sound like your dreams come true, or are you frightened by the thought that all those hideous Flash-only marketing pages will now have access to 3D acceleration?

    ... am frightened
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ojintoad (1310811)
      I already have enough trouble shooting the monkey in 2d. I'll never win that free IPod now.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      The funny part is that all those flash-only marketing pages could already have OGL access if anyone wanted it. Theres nothing stopping Flash version 152123112.51 or whatever they are up to this week from supporting OpenGL if anyone actually wanted it.

  • ... who the Khronos Group is, exactly? The linked article refers to them as 'a consortium', but I've never heard of them.

    Basically I'm wondering if this is any different than my friend Jim announcing a web standard.

    • The Khronos Group (Score:3, Informative)

      by MediaStreams (1461187)
    • by e4g4 (533831) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:27PM (#28991629)
      read about them...here [wikipedia.org] They appear to be the people who run the OpenGL standard; Apple, Intel, and several others are members.
      • Yepp we again then can expect another standard which probably every browser vendor will integrate except microsoft which once it is standardized will roll its own web d3d...
        Been there done that, read up about SVG, CSS 2.0, transparent PNGs, Flash/Silverlight, Corba, OpenGL etc...

    • The Khronos Group is the body behind the (current) further development and standardization of OpenGL. In terms of getting this adopted on the web, the support of the browser guys is what counts; but Khronos is the standards group of note behind OpenGL.
    • by sam0vi (985269)

      Welcome to Slashdot and the Internet! (He must be new here, since he doesn't know about Google)

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:24PM (#28991603)
    What could possibly go wrong?

    What's next, a way to make web browsers faster by making /dev/kmem remotely writable?

    • by BuR4N (512430) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:39PM (#28991711) Homepage Journal
      "What could possibly go wrong?"

      WebGL is based on OpenGL ES and together with javascript bindings its a really neat way of expand the usage of a browser without the need for a multitude of different plugins (each coming with their problems and security issues). Standards is good for you, and to make certain applications we will need 3D directly in the browser (I'm not just thinking geek stuff here, lots of stuff like you need a standalone program for today could run directly in the browser, planing your home, drag around those furnitures and when your happy, just click order !).
    • This isn't such a bad idea, to be honest. OpenGL shaders can be made using almost any language in existence, including(but not limited to) C/C++, Java, Python, Ruby, etc. etc.

      I can see more problems with letting a website block keyboard presses and mouse buttons, and that doesn't seem to be hugely abused in Firefox.

      I do hope there's some sort of filtering for malicious content. Up until now OpenGL has been run from "trusted" programs that already have full access to your computer. I remember a while back wh

    • by ivoras (455934) <ivoras.fer@hr> on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:00PM (#28991865) Homepage
      It's "direct hardware access" in the same sense as the 2D accelerated DrawRectangle() is "direct hardware access".
    • What could possibly go wrong?
      What's next, a way to make web browsers faster by making /dev/kmem remotely writable?

      Next, a way for HTML emails to crack your encryption using your GPU.

    • Actually it already is there to some degree what do you think is the dom node and images etc... they all have hooks somewhere into the hardware.
      The way I see it javascript will only be used for scripting on the 3d scenegraph and 3d elements themselves. There is no more hardware connectivity than what already is given with the javascript/dom connectivity.

  • Port 80 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Does EVERYTHING need to be reinvented (poorly) on port 80? Really!!!???

    • Re:Port 80 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:59PM (#28992285) Homepage Journal
      It does when firewalls block everything but ports 80 and 443 and software restriction policies block the installation of any software. There's just a lot less bureaucracy to deploy a web application than a desktop application nowadays.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Just wait. Next week we're going to announce a binding of the X11 protocol to XML over HTTP. Then you can have rich applications displayed remotely in your browser, using a JavaScript X server using the canvas tag. There is a small amount of overhead created by having every binary X11 message encoded in XML, but we think it's worth it because it runs in your browser.
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:29PM (#28991639)

    Is anyone at all working on something that is not as loosy-goosy and hokey as javascript for client-side computing?

    I've used Adobe ActionScript (stricter variant of JavaScript) and it is getting a little better, but why do we think "oh, it's the client-side. Let's go back to (essentially) Basic for programming."

    (Still moping I didn't get my Applets.)
    (Ok, Java is a bit too ugly (accessor hell)
    but a language with a little rigidity, checking, and simplicity to it wouldn't hurt, would it?)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      the limitation is you, not the language.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You know, if I were a damned good sculptor I could probably make a great statue with only a block of wood and a chainsaw... But I doubt the chainsaw would be my tool of choice. That's the problem with javascript -- we have no choice but to use it. Of course, the DOM is the real problem, but really, when have you ever used javascript for something that didn't also involve the DOM, or vice versa?
        • by Unoti (731964)
          Most of the pain of the DOM can be circumvented by using JQuery [jquery.com]. Try it, grok it, and never think of Javascript the same way again. It makes it more of a declarative thing, like SQL. Super small and short code. I wouldn't want to write everything like this, but it's amazing for what it's designed for.
    • While JavaScript is not perfect, it is actually a nice little language. It's just that every retard can "program" in it, and then thinks because he wrote a for loop, he is entitled to an opinion about it.

      Few people actually know how to program properly in JS. And the only problem is that JS is too forgiving. Just as the rendering engines for (X)HTML and CSS. But that was the original point. And it's not that bad of a point either.

      Because simple scripts are way easier than people think. Every person who can play a shooter, puzzle game, or configure some stuff on his computer, can write acceptable scripts. And even total noobs can write bad ones. I think that is a nice thing.

      And this is why you can ignore the (non-pro) masses, ranting about JS.

      If it were for me, the scripting interface in browsers would have to support multiple high-level languages anyway: Python, Haskell, Java and Ruby would be those that I'd introduce. But others might want Erlang, Ocaml, and maybe even C++. Why not? If the API is clean, the interpreters work as expected, and everything is sandboxed as it should anyway...

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        And the only problem is that JS is too forgiving.

        Tool support for debugging still has a way to go. And since weak vs strong typing is a religious war it would be nice to have an alternative for those on the strong typing side.

        • by SendBot (29932)

          Tool support for debugging still has a way to go. And since weak vs strong typing is a religious war it would be nice to have an alternative for those on the strong typing side.

          Firebug is an excellent JS debugger!

          JS has its types (number, string, etc) and variables are loose. Knowing what those types are and how to use them makes JS a compelling language for a strong-typer like myself.

      • While JavaScript is not perfect, it is actually a nice little language.

        From a language design POV, it's anything but. The issue with scope of local variables alone - you know, the one when you declare a variable inside a block that's not the topmost in a function - is something worth killing over. The only other language that does it in the same dumbfucked (sorry, but there really aren't any better word to describe this) way is - was - VB6, but VB6 was in a family of itself, so you kinda expected things to be different there, whereas JavaScript pretends to be a C++/Java lookal

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MemoryDragon (544441)

        Dont get me wrong I do most of my work with javascript, and I know the inner depths of the language. And as far as I can see the language itself is as powerful as every other dynamic language like ruby or groovy for instance. But the designers missed a few things, which then have to be simulated and sometimes due to having a simulation of those language constructs can cause cross implementation collisions. Those would be easy to fix, introduce real classes and inheritance or simply make a standard on how to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rsborg (111459)

      but a language with a little rigidity, checking, and simplicity to it wouldn't hurt, would it?)

      Given the history of the web, browsers and multiple companies injecting their own funky little APIs and features, I think a strictly-typed, more "structured" language wouldn't have cut it.

      ...and you're right, a VM based solution like Java clearly didn't work back in the 90s when PCs were too slow to handle it.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      but a language with a little rigidity, checking, and simplicity to it wouldn't hurt, would it?)

      nope. lets get a simple C JIT compiler into the browser! It wouldn't have to do everything, just compile function by function as needed. These functions could be called from javascript so you'd have speed and scripting in one small tidy package - its not as if the C runtime is a large library by today's standards.

    • Is anyone at all working on something that is not as loosy-goosy and hokey as javascript for client-side computing?

      Why yes [google.com], yes they are [google.com]. Note that these technologies are targeted precisely at weaknesses of JavaScript whilst retaining the things people like about the web - the security, the lack of installation/uninstallation, speed of download, the flexible rendering engine etc.

  • by formfeed (703859) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:34PM (#28991661)
    There goes the "fast enough for a little browsing and office apps"-computer. Yes, yes, I know, hardware acceleration will render the pages faster - but more and more sites will include 3d junk.

    Praise be to Moore and his irrefutable law:

    We are doomed to use faster and faster Computers and more and more energy, to read pages that might - content wise- just as well run on gopher.

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      I have an idea, 3DBlock plugin for Firefox.

      Actually, I'm going to register the name.
  • Honestly? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Iwanowitch (993961) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:39PM (#28991705)

    I like this. Why not? It can be expected that web browsers use decent security practices, 3D drivers are already doing a fairly good job of providing a stable API via OpenGL, and everything is floating towards web browsers as new deployment platform, also for games and 3D applications. Better have an open 3D standard than a need of all sorts of plugins where everyone comes up with his own half-working solution. This is the indie game developer's wet dream coming true.

    Of course, that's the best scenario. How it plays out in practice, we will have to see.

    • by tepples (727027)

      This is the indie game developer's wet dream coming true.

      No, the indie game developer's wet dream coming true would a mass-market PC marketed to be connected to an HDTV. Then they could get away from the dichotomy of "consoles are for sofa multiplayer, PCs are for indie games".

  • VRML (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timeOday (582209) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:42PM (#28991725)
    Anybody remember how awesome and important VRML was supposed to be? They just forgot to convince users.
    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      Anybody remember how awesome and important VRML was supposed to be? They just forgot to convince users.

      What? No way! I was definitely convinced! I distinctly remember running a VRML plugin at one time, and trying one of a very limited number of available example pages for it with some limited measure of success...

      If I'd had tools like (today's) Blender back then, and the hardware to back it up, I might have done something with VRML...

      • Anybody remember how awesome and important VRML was supposed to be? They just forgot to convince users.

        What? No way! I was definitely convinced! I distinctly remember running a VRML plugin at one time, and trying one of a very limited number of available example pages for it with some limited measure of success...

        I feel compelled to add, this was a point in time at which streaming audio over the internet was still a big deal.

        • I used VRML too - and this wasn't just when streaming audio was a big deal, this was when even having audio WORK was a big deal. I was running shotgun modems last time I used VRML, and it was still fun.

          Getting audio AND X11 up? That was talent.
          Even windows audio was spotty on some cards.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Joce640k (829181)

        VRML is alive and well ... and living in a group called "Kronos". It's every bit as awesome as it ever was.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      They just forgot to convince users.

      Well, it's not the endusers that need convincing, but the content producers. The consumers will just use whatever works for them.

  • So the web browser, in the end, will just be one big common runtime environment? That's one way to get compatibility across OSes I guess. If proprietary plugins were to be written to run entirely in a W3C compatible environment, then we'd be better off.

    But it still seems like there will always be some sort of proprietary extension that one group will try and control. Businesses will want to set up tollbooths just for the sake of a "guaranteed revenue stream". What this really means is a tax that doesn'
  • STOP! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:02PM (#28991879)

    Meanwhile I am trying to find a way to get Firefox to STOP automatic animation. It used to be easy- don't use Flash and disable animated GIF's. Now with Ajax and Javascript, it is nearly impossible.

    * Many people (myself included) can't stand movement on pages while we are trying to read things.
    * Some people are using thin clients and animation destroys network bandwidth or overloads the main server.
    * Still others are on slower, older computers and animation slows their system to a crawl.
    * And many more are on laptops/netbooks and animation pegs the CPU and quickly drains the battery.

    IMHO, a well-designed site will never create movement unless the user asks for it (with a mouse-over or click or whatever). But that would be a "in a perfect world" type fantasy.

    Please, don't bother replying suggesting "noscript"- it breaks necessary functionality of sites horribly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Krneki (1192201)
      On my netbook I don't have any problems with Web animations. Most of the stuff is properly blocked by Firefox plugins. Just try to configure them better, it's worth the time.
      • by markdavis (642305)

        Well, if you mean Adblock Plus... yes, all my machines run that. And it does help tremendously. But these animations are not necessarily ads.

        As for time- I have spent lots and lots of time trying... tips appreciated

        • by Krneki (1192201)
          Noscript, Flashblock, Adblock plus.

          Noscript can be tedious, but it's worth the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) *

      Please, don't bother replying suggesting "noscript"- it breaks necessary functionality of sites horribly.

      That's what the white list is for.

      • by markdavis (642305)

        1) That is a tremendous amount of work (compared to something like Adblock)
        2) In a thin client environment, white lists don't work because users don't understand it and/or don't realize what is happening anyway
        3) It seems no matter how much you mess with it, it still ends up breaking something you need to make this or that site work

        I keep hoping someone will invent some type of intelligent blocking system for animation that understands the typical methods being used and can short-circuit just those elements

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Meanwhile I am trying to find a way to get Firefox to STOP automatic animation

      yep, and when this is a true standard, I've no doubt there will be options to control it better. That'll be far better solution than adblock or other 'all or nothing' (relatively speaking) filtering controls.

    • controldescripts [mozdev.org] allows what your asking for (well the disabling ajax and javascript animations, othertools will block flash and esc will stop gifs), unfortunately setting it up was beyond me, but the functionality to restrict the js commands a site has access to is there, so i just use noscript+temporarily allow default domain.

    • One word: NoScript
      • Ooops missed the last sentence of your last post. Oh well, I don't agree with it anyways. Whenever a site seems broken I automatically add it to the whitelist. Of course half the time that doesn't fix it and the site is just plain broken, but at least it's not NoScript's fault then.
        • by markdavis (642305)

          That MIGHT work partially OK for people like you or me (with enough effort). But it isn't a solution to roll out to hundreds of users that don't even understand the concept of going directly to a website. They think you have to put a web address into Google, then click on the first link that comes up. I think you know what I mean...

  • does anyone believe that at any point the hardware would be the bottleneck?

  • OK - I'm predicting what will happen a few years down the road - Browser based OpenGL exploits based on browsers and/or OS and/or Graphics Vendor Driver and/or GPU hardware bugs in OpenGL implementaiton.
    Fast forward a few more years and exploits in OpenGL spilling over into running OpenCL / DirectX? code on the graphics cards. Which by then will be defacto and be running some core OS services.

    Boy things are going to get interesting....
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Achoi77 (669484)
      Yeah... it would be real nice if the general public had access to the source code in some kind of Open fashion regards to browsers such as Firefox or Webkit/Safari/Chrome so that stuff like exploits can be patched, making it would be possible to have tons of eyeballs pore over the code and be able to submit fixes on behalf of the community, or point out bad stuff that perhaps some other developers may have missed.

      That would be cool.
      • yes that would be cool. I look forward to open driver source code on all OS platforms and open GPU hardware descriptions....
  • by daithesong (1124065) on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:37PM (#28992597)
    "Several sources are reporting that while native audio/video support has been dropped from the HTML 5 spec" is hard to reconcile with http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#video [whatwg.org] (and the same document is available at the W3C, O doubters). It seems (gasp) that several sources can be...wrong!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I think that aforementioned several sources are confusing dropping Vorbis/Theora as a required codec with dropping audio/video elements from HTML5 altogether. Ironically, if you actually open TFA (don't worry, no need to read it) and click on the link that's formed by the words "dropped from the HTML5 spec", the article which opens is indeed about dropping Vorbis/Theora, and it's on the same website. Looks like they don't read their own articles - just like /.

      • by julesh (229690)

        I think that aforementioned several sources are confusing dropping Vorbis/Theora as a required codec with dropping audio/video elements from HTML5 altogether.

        The two might as well be the same. There is now no video codec that is supported by all browsers, meaning Flash is still the best option for playing videos.

        • The two might as well be the same. There is now no video codec that is supported by all browsers

          You don't need a single codec - you can specify several sources in video element, and browser will pick the first one it can handle. So you specify H.264 and Theora, and that's enough to cover all of them.

          Flash is still the best option simply because IE didn't sign up for HTML5 video. However, for performance reasons, it's still advantageous to use HTML5 where supported, and rely on fallback to Flash when not (video element was specifically designed with that in mind).

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Translation: "Microsoft dropped it"

      (if they every really intended to do it - why should they when they've got their own agenda for web video, ie. Silverlight)

      I don't see Microsoft jumping on this new bandwagon either. Why should they when Silverlight has 3D? Without support in IE then I don't see anybody using this for anything much.

  • If this is available on all web browsers, that means I won't be able to turn it off; or if I turn it off, I can't access the rest of the web.

    Please, don't do this. What's the benefit of turning web browsers into flash players?

  • As xkcd [xkcd.com] already pointed out, developers seem to be out of touch with reality here. How about implementing KMS for a flicker free boot instead? Or heck, what about allowing X applications to sync to vertical retrace? That last one has been in the pipeline for some 20 years, for God's sake!

  • by Lennie (16154) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @08:54AM (#28995633) Homepage

    Their just isn't a recommendation about what codecs should be supported in the spec.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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