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Initial WebGL Support Lands In WebKit 181

Posted by timothy
from the now-in-redundant-solid-stereo dept.
appleprophet writes "WebGL is an upcoming standard from the Khronos Group, the same standards body behind OpenCL and OpenGL ES. It defines the use of OpenGL in websites using the standard canvas element. In other words, websites will be able to render hardware accelerated, 3D graphics natively inside of a web page. In the last week, WebKit, the rendering engine behind Safari and Google Chrome, has added initial support for WebGL, which means it probably won't be too long before Macs and iPhones everywhere get OpenGL web apps. This could have big implications for gaming. HTML5 has steadily been encroaching on desktop applications' territory, but I don't think many people expected browser-based, hardware-accelerated graphics this soon."
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Initial WebGL Support Lands In WebKit

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  • Ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcmm (768152) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:36PM (#29406955)
    While I'm sure there are some great uses for this, it also sounds like a way to serve even more resource-hungry adverts than they can with Flash. Furthermore, if this became widespread in situations not really requiring it, a decent graphics card could essentially become a requirement for web surfing.
    • Re:Ads (Score:5, Insightful)

      by node 3 (115640) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:35PM (#29407777)

      While I'm sure there are some great uses for this, it also sounds like a way to serve even more resource-hungry adverts than they can with Flash. Furthermore, if this became widespread in situations not really requiring it, a decent graphics card could essentially become a requirement for web surfing.

      I don't see how this is any different than the current situation with Flash.

      Flash is resource hungry, and plays annoying ads in both 2d and 3d, with sound. So the situation is presently worse. Even if WebGL includes audio (or perhaps in the future there will be WebAL, etc.), the situation is presently worse given how problematic Flash is.

      Having seen some of the things Apple (and others, but it's really Apple that's pushing it at this point) is doing with HTML5, everything that can be done to replace Flash is a good thing. Even if it means the same annoying types of ads as now, at least they'll have less of a performance hit, and they won't be tied to a single program that is constantly plagued with security issues, has performance issues, crashes so often that Apple and Google sequester plug-ins/windows/tabs because of it, and whose updater is annoying and tries to push additional toolbars which no one wants.

      Just as Flash served to kill off pretty much all the various and annoying plug-ins you had to download to make full use of the web, and replaced them all with a single plug-in to rule them all, HTML5, with things like canvas, the video tag, and WebGL, is looking to do the same to Flash--replace it with something better.

    • No problem. If someone hates ads, and still does not use an ad-blocker, he's a retard anyway, and deserves it for being so lazy. ^^
      I guess those people then will become the Fritos and secretaries of state of tomorrow [imdb.com].

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Really? Wouldn't it just popularize something like GL Block or something?

  • ...please explain the difference between this and Google's O3D.

    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:15PM (#29407233) Journal

      Here's a nice summary [google.com].

      It seems O3D is higher-level, thus allowing more to be handled by the browser, whereas WebGL forces Javascript to handle just about everything.

      I'm not sure which one I like better. In theory, I like Javascript handling everything. In practice, I don't know enough about VMs to say whether Javascript could be made to perform well enough.

      • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:41PM (#29407817) Homepage

        A common comparison that has been made is that WebGL would be used like Canvas whereas O3D would be more like SVG. (WebGL will be *part* of canvas, of course, but I mean in terms of uses and applications)

        If you want links to many discussions about the approaches and comparisons, check out this page [ajaxian.com].

        Since canvas is already known territory (comparatively), and JavaScript is being optimized like crazy by all browser developers, I'd bet that you should expect to see WebGL picked up much faster than O3D. Developers that are already comfortable using canvas for some 2D representations will have only a small step to take to reach WebGL.

        • Since canvas is already known territory (comparatively), and JavaScript is being optimized like crazy by all browser developers, I'd bet that you should expect to see WebGL picked up much faster than O3D. Developers that are already comfortable using canvas for some 2D representations will have only a small step to take to reach WebGL.

          Well, there are a few major things in O3Ds favor (btw: full disclosure, I am a Googler but have no particular interest in 3D tech beyond enjoying its products).

          Firstly, O3D i

          • O3D is a plugin that can be installed in Internet Explorer today.

            Is it impossible that WebGL could ever be done that way?

            I'm starting to think that the best way to deal with IE is to create a Webkit/V8 plugin.

            O3D embeds V8. Consistent JavaScript performance is going to be an issue for any web-based 3D work.

            And V8 may not always be the best engine for that. And since the browser already does Javascript, I'd say leave it to the browser. If it's really a problem for people, the solution is to upgrade the browser, not to install a bigger plugin.

            No, what I like about O3D -- and you'll have to correct me if I'm wrong -- is that WebGL is a very low-level wrapper around OpenG

            • Is it impossible that WebGL could ever be done that way?

              I'm starting to think that the best way to deal with IE is to create a Webkit/V8 plugin.

              Dibs on that idea! [slashdot.org]

              And V8 may not always be the best engine for that. And since the browser already does Javascript, I'd say leave it to the browser. If it's really a problem for people, the solution is to upgrade the browser, not to install a bigger plugin.

              No, what I like about O3D -- and you'll have to correct me if I'm wrong -- is that WebGL is a very low-level wrapper around OpenGL, whereas O3D is high-level-ish, right? Or, put another way: Would it be possible for O3D to wrap either Direct3D or OpenGL, depending on the platform? That would be a definite win.

              Other than that, from reading that discussion, the biggest thing I like about WebGL is that, like most of the other web standards I know and love, and like the Unix philosophy, it tries to do one thing and well.

              For example, rather than having its own format for loading assets, it's counting on the browser to provide a more generic one -- maybe the ability to have URLs that refer to some location inside a zipfile (or something else reasonably standard). It occurs to me that data URLs could go a long way here as a hack, too.

              WebGL's biggest advantage (IMHO) is its ease of implementation -- by the browser, natively. Webkit's on board, along with Mozilla and Opera [opera.com]. Ever since Flash, it seems like people have learned their lesson regarding plugins. Don't get me wrong, I think that Gears is very useful, but how often is it updated? [blogspot.com]

              Getting users to install a plugin on any platform is becoming difficult, it takes the browser vendors themselves to push features. If every browser apart from IE implements canvas3D, t

            • O3D does indeed use either D3D or GL depending on platform. O3D is slightly higher level yes, but not dramatically so (you still have to code up shaders etc). I think we'll end up with both. NaCL integration is the key regardless.
          • by BZ (40346)

            > This may be resolved over time as all the different engines approach the theoretical
            > limits of how fast you can make JavaScript

            Given that JITs always involve heuristics and that the various JavaScript jits are taking very different approaches, I'm not sure this will happen. I think it more likely that we'll have testcases on which Nitro is 2-5x faster than Spidermonkey and other testcases on which Spidermonkey is 2-5x faster than Nitro (and similar for comparisons to V8) and on which all those num

      • I can tell you, that WebGL is going to be slow as hell, as long as the compiler is not at least as optimized as the Java ones. But it has the advantage of being what you're used to, when you already know OpenGL.

        Now the good and the bad news is, that nowadays, everything that changed in optics in the last 5-10 years is shader-based. Which means it's going to be just as fast as normal software when just loading precompiled shader progams. But it also means a big security risk, because everyone could load a sh

        • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:17PM (#29408511)

          Damn. I forgot the conclusion: That Adobe might (have to) let Flash die, and create that new product based on the new faster JavaScript engines and that 3D canvas straight away.

          • by dave420 (699308)
            Flash is still faster for most folks (and of more consistent performance across browsers) than these new JavaScript engines out there. I know it can be misused, but it's still fantastically useful if employed correctly.
        • as long as the compiler is not at least as optimized as the Java ones.

          They're working on it. I haven't looked at benchmarks -- it may already be there. Picking a random benchmark shows v8 (Chrome's Javascript engine, which is embedded in O3D) to be 300x faster than Python, and I know Python is easily fast enough to make a decent game in.

          Now the good and the bad news is, that nowadays, everything that changed in optics in the last 5-10 years is shader-based. Which means it's going to be just as fast as normal software when just loading precompiled shader progams. But it also means a big security risk, because everyone could load a shader in your graphics card on any website.

          I guess the big question there is whether shaders are a security risk at all. Although I'm sure shader systems haven't been designed with security in mind, what, exactly, can they access? I could be entirely wrong, but it seems to me that they

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:42PM (#29406999)
    Why is this necessary? There are some positive uses for it (such as getting us out of dependence on proprietary technologies like Flash) but a lot more negative issues. For one, this will add even more vulnerabilities to browsers which seem to already have loads of them. And for another the web should be accessible for -everyone- from the low-end netbook to a Core i7, and even older systems should be able to browse web. Already many sites are unusable without a recent version of Flash, we don't need extra hardware as requirements to view sites. Yeah, we all know that they should do it in HTML and that will still stick around, but how many of us have encountered sites built entirely in Flash? Or have a requirement of Flash for simple things like navigation? While some things obviously need Flash (such as Homestar Runner because they are Flash cartoons) others use Flash for no real reason. Currently most platforms have Flash or will be getting it. But adding a high-end graphics card to a computer just to view the web? Thats just a bit ridiculous.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moon3 (1530265) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:01PM (#29407137)
      Because when this takes off (a few years from now), it might even invalidate Flash as WebGL also mean accelerated 2D and would be more performant in general then 2D Flash, and it could possibly free us from closed-source and proprietary Flash in the long run.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:07PM (#29407189) Journal

      There are some positive uses for it (such as getting us out of dependence on proprietary technologies like Flash)

      There are already a lot of ways we could get rid of Flash, if people would stop using it. After all, Flash is mostly used for vector graphics (we've got SVG), interactivity (we've got AJAX/DHTML), and audio/video (we've got the audio and video tags).

      For one, this will add even more vulnerabilities to browsers which seem to already have loads of them.

      So does every useful feature. I'll bet money that the first serious vulnerability is in a driver, not a browser.

      And for another the web should be accessible for -everyone- from the low-end netbook to a Core i7, and even older systems should be able to browse web.

      OpenGL can be implemented in software.

      And you lost that argument already with Flash. When there are one or more video ads on many pages I visit, I doubt low-end netbooks are doing well.

      Yeah, we all know that they should do it in HTML and that will still stick around, but how many of us have encountered sites built entirely in Flash?

      The fact that technology can be misused is not a reason to avoid developing said technology.

      For example: It's possible to build an entire site surrounded by an iframe, so that navigation is completely broken. That doesn't mean that iframes have no legitimate uses.

      It's also possible to build an entire site as a single AJAX app. This can be done well, but it takes more work -- for example, with Gmail, notice that everywhere you go, it adjusts the hash in the URL, so that you can use browser navigation properly -- the back button works, so does bookmarking, open in a new window/tab, etc etc. Sites that don't do that could have really poor usability.

      It's also theoretically possible to render images using massive HTML tables, with each cell representing a single pixel. Does that mean HTML tables should be made less flexible, just so no one can do that?

      I could go on...

      The fact is, there are ways to abuse any technology -- there's always the possibility that someone will print out a website, make the changes they want, scan it back in, and upload it as an image. The fact that people can abuse technology should never prevent us from creating new, interesting bits of technology that have real, practical applications.

      While some things obviously need Flash (such as Homestar Runner because they are Flash cartoons)

      Nope. They need Flash because they were authored in Flash. They could have been done with SVG, Javascript, and the audio tag, it's just that the authoring tools for these aren't anywhere near Flash itself, from what I understand.

      adding a high-end graphics card to a computer just to view the web? Thats just a bit ridiculous.

      See, now you're being ridiculous.

      Consider that ten or fifteen years ago, using excessively large images would be considered bad taste -- you'd be asking for way too much RAM "just to browse the web", and you'd be wasting a ton of bandwidth. That's why we came up with the idea of thumbnail galleries -- which are still useful, but a better model is really a slideshow.

      It's not a "high end video card" now, either. Just about any video card is going to have some 3D capability on it -- and we're moving in the direction of compositing window managers, which will actually lead to cards supporting just 3D (and having to emulate 2D) being cheaper than cards supporting just 2D (and having to emulate 3D).

      So, 10 or 15 years from now, when people want to add a little effect to their website -- or build an interesting "flash game" that's capable of actually using 3D hardware -- would you prefer it use Flash? Or maybe you'd prefer Quake Live [quakelive.com] -- a plugin for each game -- may as well just download an exe?

      Or would

      • by tepples (727027)

        every now and then, we see a cool little student game on Slashdot's homepage. Narbacular Drop became Portal, and now there's The Power of Paint, etc... These aren't exactly resource-intensive games, nor are they particularly big (usually under ten megs). Imagine if, instead of having to click, download, install, then run, then uninstall when you're done, and hope it didn't have any spyware... instead, you just click from the Slashdot homepage, and you're in the game.

        This method might work for some genres, but until browsers expose an API letting a JavaScript program read from USB gamepads, it won't work for other genres. JoyToKey is a pain to set up, especially for multiple gamepads.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      But adding a high-end graphics card to a computer just to view the web? Thats just a bit ridiculous.

      Equally ridiculous is the suggestion that you need a "high-end graphics card" to run OpenGL. This isn't 1998 anymore.

      Also ridiculous is the suggestion that this will be mandatory for web pages in general. You might as well claim that Google maps shouldn't exist, because good webpages ought to be viewable in Lynx. Or that YouTube shouldn't exist, because webpages ought to be viewable on computers with small am

      • It's 2009 - 3D hardware support has been bog standard for years, and isn't any different to a website that requires a lot of CPU or RAM.

        Low-end PCs, especially notebooks, still have Intel video. Like Voodoo3 cards from a decade ago, Intel GMA video chips don't accelerate transformation/lighting/vertex shading.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by node 3 (115640) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:54PM (#29407895)

      For one, this will add even more vulnerabilities to browsers which seem to already have loads of them.

      While replacing one of the biggest ones: Flash.

      WebGL won't be a plugin, it will b part of the browser. That means Firefox won't be vulnerable because of an Adobe bug, but because of a Mozilla bug, and Mozilla can fix the bug themselves.

      Also, with more diversity, bugs will be less likely to be exploited, and when they are they will have a smaller path of destruction.

      And for another the web should be accessible for -everyone- from the low-end netbook to a Core i7, and even older systems should be able to browse web.

      This is no different than Flash is now, except that WebGL has the potential to be significantly more efficient. WebGL isn't going to replace HTML, it's going to augment it, similar to how Flash does today. Sites that want to be accessible to more users will avoid reliance on resource demanding WebGL elements, or avoid it altogether, just like sites avoid resource demanding Flash objects.

      On the other hand, those sites that want to take advantage of it, and for those users with more modern machines (really, WebGL isn't going to require advanced GPUs and high-end Core2Duos unless you start putting game level 3D and AI into it, simple 3D rendering will work just fine on older hardware--better, in fact, that 3D Flash does now), we'll be able to have a more rich web experience.

      I absolutely detest the notion that the web should not embrace new technologies just because some people have crap computers. I agree that most web sites should be designed to be accessible across a broad range of computers (either by limiting advanced features, or providing alternate pages), but if a site wants to specialize with features that tax even modern systems (like YouTube did not too long ago), then as long as they are not essential sites (like banks, utilities, government, news media, etc), then they should be encouraged.

      Already many sites are unusable without a recent version of Flash, we don't need extra hardware as requirements to view sites.

      There you go. So how is this worse?

      how many of us have encountered sites built entirely in Flash? Or have a requirement of Flash for simple things like navigation? While some things obviously need Flash (such as Homestar Runner because they are Flash cartoons) others use Flash for no real reason.

      Which has what to do with WebGL?

      But adding a high-end graphics card to a computer just to view the web? Thats just a bit ridiculous.

      Not as ridiculous as assuming WebGL will mean that you have to have a high-end GPU and CPU just to view the web.

    • WebGL is attempting to build an actual standard (unlike Flash) which people might really use (unlike VRML) to put accelerated (unlike Flash) 2d and 3d graphics on the web.

      Why? I'd imagine (other than trying to beat Microsoft to the punch with WebX or whatever they decide to put forth) that it's a move toward cloud applications. Adobe's been talking for years about putting Premiere, Flash and Photoshop into web applications. Google beat Microsoft to the punch with Google Docs. A decent accelerated 3d surf

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:52PM (#29407069) Journal

    but I don't think many people expected browser-based, hardware-accelerated graphics this soon

    This is great for WebKit and I'm very interested to see where this goes. But you're kidding yourself with that above statement. Firefox is using Gecko and we all know IE will drag their feet on this. So you're proposing a company invest time into a "browser-based hardware-accelerated" graphics game or program by using WebGL ... when it's only supported on the two smallest browser shares out there? Unless there's a way to auto-port existing OpenGL code to WebGL (and the press release didn't seem to imply that), I wouldn't hold my breath. Even if tomorrow Firefox is ready to go with WebGL in Gecko, you've got a long adoption and incubation time on these projects and you'd still be targeting the minority of browsers.

    Basically I don't see a good business case or success story coming out of using WebGL over OpenGL or even just dumbing down the graphics and making it something that's widely supported already like Flash. Nothing would make me happier than to see this take off and be the de facto route for putting your game on everything with a browser ... it just isn't at that point or even guaranteed to happen yet.

    • by beelsebob (529313) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:18PM (#29407255)

      How about the browser with the biggest share of the mobile phone market - a market where you've notably got no competition from flash games?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How about the browser with the biggest share of the mobile phone market - a market where you've notably got no competition from flash games?

        If you're targeting just one phone, fine. But you might as well just use the iPhone SDK so you don't have code all the touch interaction crap from scratch. If you coded it in WebGL what is the bonus that you got from doing that? That everyone who uses Opera on their desktops can play a game designed with the iPhone screen and multi-touch in mind? Again, you'd be pretty darn ignorant to go with WebGL over iPhone SDK.

        • by Firehed (942385) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:38PM (#29407391) Homepage

          As other smartphones adopt the new standards (many already use Webkit-based browsers), you instantly gain compatibility on those devices. No need to maintain three separate codebases for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android if your app works great in the browser of all three platforms.

          I also prefer sites/apps where I don't have to perform any installation to get at the content, but that's more a matter of personal preferences. Right now that's only practical for a small subset of apps, but WebGL may change that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by beelsebob (529313)

          Just one phone? Web Kit is used on almost all Nokia phones, android phones, and iPhones, and probably a bunch more after that.

        • by farnsworth (558449) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:19PM (#29407681)

          If you're targeting just one phone, fine. But you might as well just use the iPhone SDK so you don't have code all the touch interaction crap from scratch. [snip] you'd be pretty darn ignorant to go with WebGL over iPhone SDK.

          If you look at the trac logs for this checkin, you'll see that the commiter has an apple.com email address. So it's probably safe to say that implementing this fits in with Apple's dev tools strategy.

          I don't know a lot about OpenGL or WebGL, but it does feel like it overlaps a lot with what Flash and Silverlight provide. I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from that, but it seems notable to me.

        • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:27PM (#29408169) Journal

          True. But WebKit is used by Android and WebOS. Also, RIM just bought a company that makes a WebKit-based browser.

          So, potentially, you're running on four of the top five platforms.

        • But you might as well just use the iPhone SDK so you don't have code all the touch interaction crap from scratch. If you coded it in WebGL what is the bonus that you got from doing that?

          Web apps can't get rejected, nor do they have the average 2-week delay.

      • by hkmwbz (531650) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:26PM (#29407739) Journal

        How about the browser with the biggest share of the mobile phone market

        You mean Opera [statcounter.com]?

        • by beelsebob (529313) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @06:42PM (#29408273)

          Yes, wait no, given that the iPhone bar, the Nokia bar, the iTouch bar, and a lot of the "other" bar (palm pre, and android) are *all* WebKit based browsers. In the mean time, NetApplications shows the iPhone *alone* ahead of opera.

        • So, iPod Touch and iPhone are two separate browsers on that graph, even though they're identical for web-browsing purposes. You could argue, I suppose, about whether iPod Touch even belongs in the "mobile" category. But it works for a lot of folks as a mobile internet device, wherever they have Wi-Fi access.

          If you add iPod and iPhone together, they add up to 34.8 percent, which is more than Opera and the next two largest (BlackBerry and "Other") combined.

    • So you're proposing a company invest time into a "browser-based hardware-accelerated" graphics game or program by using WebGL ... when it's only supported on the two smallest browser shares out there?

      I would, if only because it's a lot easier to convince people to try a different browser (or just provide a downloadable version that embeds Webkit) than it is to convince them to download something every time they want to do 3D.

      Or if it isn't, it should be.

      Even if tomorrow Firefox is ready to go with WebGL in Gecko, you've got a long adoption and incubation time on these projects and you'd still be targeting the minority of browsers.

      Where "minority" means "Everyone except IE, at least until someone hacks it into IE with a plugin."

      Consider the following user experience: You try to view the webpage. It says "You need a browser that supports WebGL. Here, try one of these." You download

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Khronos also maintains OpenGL ES and OpenGL. OpenGL ES is basically a subset of OpenGL. It would be very surprising if WebGL weren't very closely related to OpenGL as well. That should make writing a plugin for those other browsers not particularly difficult.

  • When will I be able to play games with Browser? Will Starcraft 2 / Diablo 3 ships release in this "Web format"?

    And when will 3D LCD screen becomes affordable and hence animated 3D porn? Oh. I think I can skip the animated part...real actor are good enough!

  • by Aggrav8d (683620) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @04:04PM (#29407161) Homepage

    I've written a few games using the 2D canvas element. Invariably these games use 99% of the CPU because Javascript doesn't have a real sleep() function. There's no decent way to manipulate sounds (like an FMOD for javascript). Tests on my machine show that changing the line/fill color is expensive. There's no way to switch to full screen or to capture every key stroke/mouse movement. All of which is beside the really big issue: there's no decent debugger.

    3D games sound like a nice idea but they'll be prohibitively expensive (time-wise) to develop, suffer bizarre bottlenecks not seen in native code, and have to work through the very limited browser interface. While Assembly demo coders might enjoy the challenge of working in such a limited environment, the rest of the world should wait for some real improvements.

    • Invariably these games use 99% of the CPU because Javascript doesn't have a real sleep() function.

      setTimeout doesn't work? Or setInterval, if you're going for a specific framerate?

      There's no decent way to manipulate sounds (like an FMOD for javascript).

      You could play them with the audio tag. I guess the question is whether you can actually manipulate beyond play, pause, seek, and volume... Then again, it doesn't take much more than that to start to do 3D.

      There's no way to switch to full screen

      I agree, this should be addressed. Actually, I have some ideas of how a browser might implement this, if you're interested.

      or to capture every key stroke/mouse movement.

      No, but you can capture enough of them to make a game.

      there's no decent debugger.

      Firebug isn't "decent"?

      3D games sound like a nice idea but they'll be prohibitively expensive (time-wise) to develop, suffer bizarre bottlenecks not seen in native code, and have to work through the very limited browser interface.

      Granted. On the other ha

      • or to capture every key stroke/mouse movement.

        No, but you can capture enough of them to make a game.

        For one player. Otherwise, two players have to share a keyboard, and down that path lies "boop, boop, boop" when too many keys are held down.

        I know of no other platform where I could imagine clicking a link on a webpage and being inside a game in less than a second.

        On what kind of connection? Unless the game is something the same size as a 24 KB puzzle game [lj65.org], you'll run into problems while waiting to push maps, meshes, and textures through a sub-1 Mbps connection.

    • I feel your pain, man.. Been developing "web 2.0" (hate that word) apps for the past 4 years, I can say that lack of sleep() and any real threading support in Javascript (Prototype's defer() and its friends is not an answer) is the biggest obstacle. Won't someone think of poor web developers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sglane81 (230749)

      ...these games use 99% of the CPU...
      You're doing it wrong (TM). I am working on a game right now, 2 months so far, which has animations and other eye candy and uses no where near 100% CPU on a 4 year old core2duo laptop. It looks like the original Legend of Zelda on the NES or FF 1-6. http://www.cindervale.com/ [cindervale.com]

      ... and it runs on everything back to IE 6 AND BEYOND. Fully supported browsers include IE 6 (2001), IE 7, IE 8, Firefox 1.0, Firefox 2.0, Firefox 3.0, Firefox 3.5, Safari 3.1, Safari

      • by am 2k (217885)

        As far as full screen, have the user press F11. All browsers I'm aware of use this same binding.

        Uh, I guess you've never tested this on a Mac.

    • by appleprophet (233330) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:17PM (#29407665) Homepage

      While Assembly demo coders might enjoy the challenge of working in such a limited environment, the rest of the world should wait for some real improvements.

      Most of your complaints have been addressed in other modules of HTML5. See the media module for native sound support and web workers for threading support.

      Regarding debuggers, there are a few excellent debuggers for JavaScript capable of profiling and doing all sorts of stuff. The most notable being WebKit's native Web Inspector and the FireBug extension.

      Performance concerns with "fill color" and such are not an issue because they are offloaded to the graphics card.

      Full screen mode is controlled by the user agent, not the web page for obvious reasons. Most browsers have support for a full screen mode in some fashion.

      Now this is not to say that it's perfect. However, things are looking pretty good. :) This is definitely the future, the question is just how long will it take to get there.

      • by BZ (40346)

        > Performance concerns with "fill color" and such are not an issue because they are
        > offloaded to the graphics card.

        The original poster's concern was with _setting_ the fill color. Since the format for the set is a string that allows the full CSS color syntax and hence has to be parsed with a full CSS parser, changing the fill color is in fact somewhat expensive. It's comparable in time spent to the fill operation itself in browsers last I tested.

    • Uuum... what are setTimout() and setInterval(), if not sleep() functions? Or are they "implemented" as tight loops? ^^ I don't think so.

      But I agree on sounds and general slowness.

      I think JavaScript will go trough quite a lot of change, which has already started. And it will come out as a pretty well performing JIT-compiled scripting/programming language.
      But what I really would wish, is for other languages being implemented in the browser. With a generic (FAST) VM around it.
      Then (pre-compiled?) even C++ or H

    • also don't forget true "arrays"; as is, I think it takes lg(n) time to access array elements.

    • Invariably these games use 99% of the CPU because Javascript doesn't have a real sleep() function.

      It's called timer. Use a timer. Javascript is event driven. Use a timer.

      There's no decent way to manipulate sounds (like an FMOD for javascript).

      Well, there's SoundManager (flash) and one could do similar things with a Java interface.

      3D games sound like a nice idea but they'll be prohibitively...

      Well, you loose here because every game that's on a different platform has such issues. EVERYTHING that's developed cross-browser (i.e. cross-platform) or on multiple consoles (i.e. cross-platform) or on PC/Mac/Linux (i.e. cross-platform) has such issues. When it comes to performance, I should mention that not too long ago Canvascape was unplay

  • And if you don't want to directly code in Javascript, some great alternative languages can actually compile Javascript code :

    - haXe : http://www.haxe.org/ [haxe.org]
    - Fan : http://www.fandev.org/ [fandev.org]

  • It there any browser to download that will let us try out WebGL on linux yet?
    Would building the changes into epiphany or midori work?
    I've also tried firefox's canvas3D, but haven''t gotten that to work yet.
    Hopefully the WebGL api will be available from the python plugin in firefox. That would still require a plugin to download, but at least there would be a nice 3D web platform to develop in. (yeah, javascript is ok, but it's not great)
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Here's the list [wikipedia.org].

      Konqueror, Chrome, Midori. You'll have to compile your choice with a bleeding edge version of webkit, of course.

      Interesting, the Palm Pre also runs webkit.

  • How will we manage to use this? Programatically by Javascript, right? Javascript is so limited that I fail to see how it will be to make this actually usable and applicable in useful situations except, as already mentioned before, in heavier and more intrusive advertising schemes.
    I understand that many may have been craving for this, but, to make it really interesting, Javascript also needs some cleanup and some more functionality.
    And, besides, I can already imagine each browser doing it in it's own way and

    • by farnsworth (558449) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:13PM (#29407639)

      How will we manage to use this? Programatically by Javascript, right? Javascript is so limited that I fail to see how it will be to make this actually usable [snip] Javascript also needs some cleanup and some more functionality.

      Like what? It's a very rich language which is a pleasure to use. The historical short-coming has been it's libraries (primarily the DOM). But the language itself is really nice, as nearly anyone with enough experience will tell you.

      And, besides, I can already imagine each browser doing it in it's own way and developers having to set up multiple ways to deal with the differences.

      This is the case with all standards. If there are significant implementation errors, higher-level libraries will emerge that "fix" them for the users of this API. Ajax is different between browsers, is this a problem for anyone? No, there are multiple free libraries that are super-simple to use that make the right call in each browser. $.ajax({url: "foo.html"}); Just Works (tm).

      • by joaommp (685612)

        ok, I'll give you that. "the language itself", has about everything most languages do. but there are some things that in other languages you can find in libraries that you can't find in javascript. Javascript DOM, although not exactly from the language, isn't exactly a library either. If you see, it is, let's say, a javascript primitive. Several features are unavailable and unimplementable because all libraries for javascript are implemented over javascript primitives, which, although a very good set but, c

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by loufoque (1400831)

      Javascript is so limited that I fail to see how it will be to make this actually usable and applicable in useful situations

      Javascript is not particularly limited. It is turing-complete, of course, and provides a nice type system: dynamic duck typing on top of a prototype object oriented type design. It has garbage collections, closures, reflection...
      Probably more expressive and flexible than your average programming language.

      Maybe what you mean is that it is lacking a bigger standard library.
      Well, as it is,

      • by joaommp (685612)

        yes, I mean it's standard functions, but it doesn't matter if it bigger or smaller than any other language's standard library. What matters is if it's complete (or near enough) or not for the job it was designed to.

  • but oh god no! I can only imagine the horrors that will be visited upon the Internet once MySpace users get a hold of this.

    • Why do you go to MySpace then? Especially with all that stuff turned on? Maybe you are a masochist and haven't realized it? ^^

      It's OK. We can... uuum... accept... you... anyway... *cough*. ;)

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @05:02PM (#29407565) Homepage

    This is about Try #4 for 3D on the Web. Web3D [web3d.org] was an XML representation of VRML. Unfortunately, the effect of the Web3D consortium was to kill VRML in favor of a vaporware concept.

    3D in the browser is done well in Macromedia Shockwave. Try this 3D driving game. [swgamers.com] The Shockwave player is supposedly available on 58% of PCs. [adobe.com] Some versions of Shockwave even had the Havok physics engine, but Macromedia stopped paying Havok for the license and took that out.

    The main problem with Shockwave is that it doesn't start as fast as Flash does. Flash has a nice scheme for interleaving the timeline and the asset data, so that playing starts very quickly. At least if the content is authored properly. Also, Shockwave authoring tools are expensive.

    About Java 3D, the less said, the better.

    The problem with offering OpenGL access to Javascript is that Javascript isn't a good language for fast matrix math. Also, authoring tools will have to be developed. You can't effectively author 3D content in a text editor.

    • You can't effectively author 3D content in a text editor.

      PovRAY and me would like to disagree with that. ^^
      I found that I have this ugly feeling of everything not being at the *exact* correct position, with the *exact* correct curves, when using software like Maya or 3DStudio Max. And I can't stand working like that. It feels like dirty "spaghetti-designing".
      That's why I like PovRAY so much.
      But now that Maya has adopted Python as its scripting language, I must say that I'm pretty happy with that too. ^^

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      Javascript isn't a good language for fast matrix math.

      The matrix calculations required for rendering are done by OpenGL, not the caller programming language (the advantage of doing this way is that it can be hardware accelerated).

      Also, authoring tools will have to be developed. You can't effectively author 3D content in a text editor.

      I'm unclear what sort of tools you refer to? Presumably people would use the same 3D modelling software they'd use for any other OpenGL application.

      OpenGL has the advantage ov

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ardor (673957)

        The matrix calculations required for rendering are done by OpenGL, not the caller programming language (the advantage of doing this way is that it can be hardware accelerated).

        No they are not. The vertex transformations are hardware accelerated. The matrices itself are done either by the application of by the driver (when calling something like glTranslate). Matrix manipulations never ever are done by the graphics hardware.

    • The problem with offering OpenGL access to Javascript is that Javascript isn't a good language for fast matrix math.

      Yah, because it's not like the underlying javascript engine, where the matrix math is actually run, couldn't be enhanced...

      Similarly to your other complaint.

    • by Animats (122034)

      If you want a sense of how far Shockwave can be pushed, try Maid Marion [maidmarion.com]. They have a halfway decent 3D multiuser RPG that runs in a browser. Looks about as good as Everquest of a few years ago. There are guilds, monsters, dungeons, items, PvP combat - all the usual stuff. The game mechanics, like collisions, ground contact, and camera control, are all reasonably decent, if well behind modern console games.

      If Adobe could just solve the loading time problem, as they did for Flash, this would be the sol

  • by FlyingGuy (989135) <flyingguy AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @07:46PM (#29408701)

    the web into two very distinct flavors:

    • The Application Model:
      • This is the model wherein the browser becomes an application execution environment. The box model is created as a function, menus are a function all the primitives for applications, grids, drop downs, pick lists become a function that is executed natively with the UI tools of the native GUI that exists in windows, linux, osx etc. There is no trying to flow things around with style sheets, div within div within div surrounded by yet another div. All GUI's have addressable screens and the objects created thereis stay where you put them now matter what happens to the application window that the as set up by the browser does. This is the same as the MDI model, it works, it just needs to be replicated.
    • The HTML Model:
      • This is the web as it currently exists, with all the strangeness and wonder that it is, HTML, style sheets and the like to allow text to flow smoothly, images to be included, but even this still needs work. the float:center tag needs to be implemented so text can flow evenly around a fixed image. Things likes snaking columns need to be realized in a simple for so that a tag like < column type="snake" width="30 pct" > [content] </column>. HTML has a long way to go before it truly meetd the needs of on-line publishing.
    • by BZ (40346)

      The problem is that people want a mix. Your typical news site wants text flow with a navigation+multimedia application around it. gmail wants text flow with a mail client around it. Google docs wants text/flow with a word processor around it. A wiki often enough wants text flow with an HTML editor around it (though some wikis are of course still using textareas for editing).

  • I think a lot of people fail to see the coincidences of this.

    1) MS announces BING
    2) Founder of Google personally leads a team to investigate and potentially retaliate. (MS just HAS to get into EVERYONE's business)
    3) Google Chrome and OS is announces, officially.
    4) WebGL is announced.
    5) Google Native Client is being heavily developed and will be the core of WebGL use.

    It is a war folks. a Tech war. MS is trying to take more search market shares with the Yahoo/Bing deal. Google is not going to tolerate this,

  • HTML5 canvas has a lot of potential. Once accelerated 3D graphics in the browser is standard, the potential uses and demand for content will be huge: visualizations, innovative interfaces, attention-grabbing content, digital art, games...
    But IE doesn't support canvas so any site that relies on it for anything more than trivial rendering will be unusable by almost half of Internet users (current IE browser share: ~40%, according to w3schools [w3schools.com]). Probably Microsoft sees canvas as a threat to Silverlight so won'

  • The history of 3D on the web is absolutely dismal. As a "graphics guy", I have been repeatedly shocked over the last 13 years by what the "web guys" propose as a 3D-in-the-browser solution. I don't understand why there is such a mismatch between the two factions' ideas about graphics, but I accept that they are vastly different.

    So, after many failures, this is where we are today. The graphics guys (Khronos) are saying, "Stop trying to make something fancy, just put OpenGL in the browser." And the web guy

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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