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WebGL Standard To Bring 3D Acceleration To Browsers? 239

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 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:21PM (#28991575)

    ... 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.

  • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:29PM (#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?)

  • by BuR4N ( 512430 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:39PM (#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 !).
  • VRML (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:42PM (#28991725)
    Anybody remember how awesome and important VRML was supposed to be? They just forgot to convince users.
  • Re:I've got an idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:07PM (#28991919) Journal

    will require programming in JavaScript

    Why is this a bad thing? Or what would you suggest as a better language?

    Most people who hate Javascript don't really understand it. I qualify that as "most" because a few people do know enough about it to actually have good reasons for hating it.

    won't have a standard GUI framework to use

    HTML is more standard than about any other GUI framework, even if less featured.

    In fact, something to notice -- most people seem determined to style away the standard GUI elements. Below this message, you'll almost certainly see a "Reply to This" button and a "Parent" button, and unless you've disabled your CSS, they probably look nothing like your standard native buttons.

    The issue is that most web designers hate these things, and think they're "ugly". Whether actual users care is up for debate -- they don't seem to have a problem with Google's homepage, for example.

    we'll have to code our own from scratch every time as if it's MS-DOS all over again

    You mean the MS-DOS, where the network was nearly nonexistent, and applications would largely be written in C or assembly?

    I understand your sentiment that the browser feels like a step back, but hyperbole doesn't help your argument.

    This way, people will have a pointless, non-native middle-man between their operating systems and their apps!

    Better this than Java or C#.

    What's more, it's hardly pointless. Or would you rather go back to the days when if you wanted something cool, like the ability to check the weather, receive email, or watch TV, you'd have to download an untrusted (possibly virus/spyware infested) binary .exe, run it on Windows, and hope it doesn't have some weird incompatibility with everything else on your system?

    I much prefer the ability to try out pretty much anything I want, in my browser, without having to download/install anything, or uninstall it later. Worst case, I reload the page, or close the tab. Absolute worst case, I have to kill the browser, but no permanent harm.

    Oh, and they're portable. I can play with the same apps on Windows, Linux, OS X, an iPhone...

    You could argue that the browser isn't the best possible way we could've accomplished that, but those are real advantages it has over the vast majority of desktop apps, especially "fast" ones.

    I've wanted nothing more than to program 3D in friggin' JavaScript.

    Better than programming 3D in friggin' Flash.

    If people are going to insist on taking the Web in this direction, wouldn't you rather it be based on cross-platform open standards?

  • Re:VRML (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:11PM (#28991947) Homepage

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

  • Re:I've got an idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:13PM (#28991967)
    What needs to happen is that the OS needs to become more browser-like not vice versa (bare with me here). Modularity and separating the parts of the OS into distinct UI, data, and code structures offers amazing customization and extension (CSS jQuery), and is something browsers do right. How does that apply to the OS, you say? Imagine a modular OS encompassed basically by 1) a semi-p2p database file structure (like the web basically, but not HTML - something closer to XML), 2) modular code er "pieces" - both compiled and script, but seamless from the end user perspective (plug in compilers,etc), and 3) a standardized UI structure, like HTML but as an OS API that uses modules to style UI elements (like CSS). Don't get me wrong - I'm not talking about cloud computing - I'm talking about total API abstraction for the entire OS. The end of applications per se and the dawn of the module. But whatever, maybe I'm just high.

    (Hell, and maybe security should be a fourth modularized component at OS level...)
  • Re:I've got an idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @07:25PM (#28992075)

    The very name "JavaScript" confuses uninformed people who assume "Java" and "JavaScript" are the same thing. Despite posting as Anon, I can say I've never had much problem with JavaScript as a standard. (I know, I know. The name is really ECMAscript these days, but who calls it that?)

    The other side of using JavaScript is that it was slow -- so the 'interpreted versus native' argument would come back up, like it did back in the days of Visual Basic versus Visual C++. But with the advances made in the last... what, year? Two years? JavaScript interpretation is fast. Damned fast.

    So I really don't see the problem. But more than anything I'm hoping Adobe finally works in basic 2D (nevermind 3D) acceleration into Flash. Stupid Flash Video redlines my CPU, but I can watch 720p Hi-Def h.264 no problem.

  • by MemoryDragon ( 544441 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @04:19AM (#28994593)

    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 do those things.

    Introduce real namespaces instead of having to hack them via map/objects, and I think most people would be happy!
    The inheritance issue is probably the most pressing because that is one of the 2 key areas which constantly causes cross library collisions the other one being the overriding of base objects and extending them and hijacking of something like $

    But I agree the language itself has been somehow misjudged in the past, because it is so easy to hack a quick script, real javascript if you write big systems with it is almost as hard to handle as C++ and as flexible as Lisp or Smalltalk!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 08, 2009 @11:29AM (#28996045)

    It means using the 3D hardware using an "Orthographic" camera view to do 2-D graphics. Basically, you use the 3-D accelleration to do 2-D. It's FAST! Damn FAST! And very easy to comprehend and program.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.