Posts Tagged ‘browser’

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Thank you Microsoft.  You have helped to make it easier to produce and convince clients and collegues to use html5 with your latest decision.

Since you are updating Internet Explorer in automatic updates to IE9  currently and hopefully for the future versions. Developing for the web became better as #html5 with canvas goodness is now market ready! (in a nearer term rather than a year or two possibly – still some time to propagate).

Good news, everyone! Microsoft has decided that the time has come to make sure that all users of Internet Explorer are using the most current version possible. To accomplish that goal, they’re turning on automatic updates.

Yes, Internet Explorer patches and new major versions are already available via Windows Update. But to move from one version to the next, it’s never been a fully automatic process. There’s a separate install window that appears for installing, say, Internet Explorer 9. For many users, the additional steps required were often enough to prevent them from installing a new version.

To clients, developers can now say that IE9 and up is the best target since Microsoft themselves are updating the browser in Automatic Updates for security and a better experience.  They can tell clients that is is acceptable to build in html5 with canvas and with less tedium in making things work for IE7 and IE8, less middle man proxy technologies. Microsoft will also be less of a bad name for developers stemming from IE6 and lagged, slow upgrading software progress and users. For many clients that were risky on projects this wasn’t an issue, but deciding what tech to use and convincing others with so much old IE out there was difficult.  Hopefully this helps soon.

Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s senior director for Internet Explorer, pointed out several benefits. The overall security of the Windows user community will be improved as outdated browsers are replaced, developers can focus their attention on building sites using modern web code, and those who surf with IE will be able to enjoy the full Beauty of the Web.

Browsers that silently update like Chrome are the best model, but automatic software updates are also good. html5 is on soon when this kicks in across the world, it seems Microsoft plans to do this at different times around the world.

And so from now on, Internet Explorer will quietly update itself just as Windows does. Starting in January, users in Australia and Brazil will be the begin receiving automatic IE updates. Microsoft will then gradually extend coverage to other parts of the world as time goes on.

This news comes on the same day that Chrome 15 is now the most used browser in the world. IE9 could take the top spot for a while if all IE versions move to IE9 as IE is still 40% of the world share in browsers for all versions.

Ship it! html5 has entered the arena officially. And so it begins…

[source from geek.com + microsoft]

 

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Interactive on the web is changing at a rapid clip. The path of the next wave of ineractive and gaming on the web is beginning to materialize.

WebGL, Canvas grouped with html5 are final and providing new landscapes to draw on and new ways to make levels to beat. Most browsers and platforms are supporting this technology. Tools like Three.js make that very fun. Mozilla Firefox, Chrome and Safari are including WebGL + canvas and mostly hardware accelerated, making Javascript an even more powerful glue of the web.

Adobe is going low level with Flash ‘Molehill’ 3D and hardware acceleration platform that companies like Unity will be including as an export target.

Microsoft has finally laid out their plans. Silverlight is alive with Silverlight 5 / 3D powered by XNA (any surprise? guess it isn’t dead) and hardware acceleration throughout Internet Explorer, this appears to be Microsoft’s version of the future.

Plugins like Flash, Unity, Silverlight, others will continue to push the bounds cross platform where standards cement the technology behind it for a platform to reach the next innovative step.

Mobile has blown up the scene with native and low-level focus, causing web platforms to also go low level for more performance thanks to Apple and now Android. Native languages like C, C++ and Objective-C came roaring back as the hardware was reset a bit back to late 90s/early 2000s processor and graphics power. However with mobile and cpu cost on platform as service system, native will stay more over the coming years.

Games, interactive and entertainment projects and apps are going to be even more fun. New opportunities all over the place.  Game on!

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Khronos announced today that WebGL, the great OpenGL web hope, is now officially final for the 1.0 version. Khronos announced this today via the GDC and their website, it was also mentioned at Gamasutra.

WebGL already sees great support in numerous engines including my favorite Three.js from the infamous mr. doob.

There is already a thriving middleware ecosystem around WebGL to provide a wide diversity of Web developers the ability to easily create compelling 3D content for WebGL-enabled browsers.  These tools include: C3DL, CopperLicht , EnergizeGL, GammaJS, GLGE, GTW, O3D, OSG.JS, SceneJS, SpiderGL, TDL, Three.js and X3DOM.  Links to these authoring tools and WebGL demos can be found at www.khronos.org/webgl/wiki/Main_Page.

It will take some time for WebGL to propagate.  It is ready and on in Chrome and Firefox by default in betas. Safari it can be enabled via app parameter.  IE and MIcrosoft have yet to chime in, will we see DirectX for the web or adoption of WebGL.  Time will tell…  Until then Unity and Flash with the 3d api Molehill are forging ahead.  I am sure we will see an export to WebGL for Unity down the line but there are still some interesting script execution speed issues that compiled code in Flash and Unity Web Player will still be faster on.

So Khronos isn’t stopping at WebGL, they are now tackling WebCL or OpenCL for the web just like WebGL is OpenGL for the web (currently at the OpenGL ES 2.0 level which is nice because that is big on mobile — mobile and web games are at about the same level).

Khronos is also today announcing the formation of the WebCL™ working group to explore defining a JavaScript binding to the Khronos OpenCL™ standard for heterogeneous parallel computing.  WebCL creates the potential to harness GPU and multi-core CPU parallel processing from a Web browser, enabling significant acceleration of applications such as image and video processing and advanced physics for WebGL games.

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Chromium is moving to GPU hardware accelerate rendering all types of web content as much as possibly with their latest efforts.

For some time now, there’s been a lot of work going on to overhaul Chromium’s graphics system. New APIs and markup like WebGL and 3D CSS transforms are a major motivation for this work, but it also lets Chromium begin to take advantage of the GPU to speed up its entire drawing model, including many common 2D operations such as compositing and image scaling. As a lot of that work has been landing in tip-of-tree Chromium lately, we figured it was time for a primer.

The primer they are looking at is not just rendering the content made in WebGL, CSS3 3d transformations and more but the entire final pass of the output.  This leads to some very interesting years ahead in browsers.  With Chromium, IE9, Firefox and Safari all now with aspects of hardware rendering and acceleration via the GPU, anyone not doing GPU acceleration is seemingly behind the curve that seemed to start in 2007ish to a culmination of today’s latest browsers.

After these layers are rendered, there’s still a crucial last step to blend them all onto a single page as quickly as possible. Performing this last step on the CPU would have erased most of the performance gains achieved by accelerating individual layers, so Chromium now composites layers on the GPU when run with the –enable-accelerated-compositing flag.

Web content will get really interesting over the next couple years.  Even basic computers now have a GPU and bottom of 32MB video memory.  Why aren’t we using those GPUs as much as possible for web content and web games. The time of software rendering might be coming to an end now that processors seem to have topped out and the bottom level computer is capable of handling a decent amount of video memory. It will be easier to justify useful graphics acceleration with a better user experience when we can take advantage of all the computer/device has to offer.

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Wow. IE9 just set it in motion.

Canvas 2D is now really on the horizon for all browsers. IE9 preview now supports the <canvas> tag and all canvas element APIs and most Canvas 2D context APIs and attributes!

Features Available

  • Canvas
    • In the latest Platform Preview we support all Canvas element APIs and most Canvas 2D Context APIs and attributes.

Features Partially Implemented

  • Canvas
    • globalCompositeOperation
      • The latest Platform Preview does not include support for the globalCompositeOperation attribute.
    • DOM Exceptions
      • The latest Platform Preview does not include support for Canvas 2D Context DOM Exceptions.
    • drawFocusRing()
      • The latest Platform Preview does not include support for the drawFocusRing() Focus management API.

This is pretty amazing even though it has been hinted at by other news (previously from AMD).  Why should we care what Internet Explorer is up to?  Well the dream of standards across web browsers seems to be materializing for html5 and more importantly, canvas 2d.

Even with Silverlight Microsoft has decided to join the party and upgrade the web on some great standards to build even more innovative platforms on top of.  Some may see this as a death knell for Silverlight, Flash etc but I do not see it that way. I see <canvas> as a competing interactive technology but many times technologies bind together for a better experience, they also drive one another to innovate.

Much like Silverlight pushed Flash, and Silverlight was created because of Flash, those two technologies brought on canvas 2D and more graphical capabilities for the web in the interactive, game and application space.  As javascript execution has sped up so has the graphical capabilities of browsers now. What is not to like about that if you are an interactive developer?

Canvas, Flash, Silverlight are all for the most part still software/CPU accelerated. The question is who will start the hardware acceleration of canvas and competing technologies even further to bring us closer to OpenGL ES/WebGL in the browser?

Ars Technica states that IE9 will have hardware accelerated canvas in addition to SVG but that doesn’t seem to be officially stated anywhere by Microsoft yet that I can find.  AMD has hinted at it and previous news about SVG being hardware acclerated.  Time will tell and it will be a HUGE boost to the browsers that do, of course we need all of them to do it to be worthwhile for mainstream content.

Ars on the hardware accelerated canvas support:

What does come as a surprise is canvas support. Microsoft has been promoting Internet Explorer 9′s support of SVG, which provides vector graphics capabilities within the Web browser, but thus far has kept quiet when asked if it would support the canvas bitmap graphics specification. Not only is canvas being supported, it is also being hardware accelerated, continuing Microsoft’s efforts to give Web applications the ability to exploit the extensive hardware capabilities of modern PCs.

Of course we should tread carefully here, there is still a big chance that portions of the canvas 2d spec will not be implemented exactly the same or some browser may have missing features much like CSS and javascript evolution.  For instance the “most Canvas 2D Context APIs and attributes” is something I hope is addressed in the final IE9. If you are gonna spend the time implementing a standard, do it fully and right, don’t try to break it (an old Microsoft tactic). But this step was needed to again push interactive web technologies to more closely compete with desktop graphic technology which adds some really exciting times ahead.

Another golden ray of hope is ES5 support in IE9.  Again Wow!

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Google has decided to put weight behind WebGL and stop actively developing O3D as a plugin, rather they will make O3D a Javascript library on top of WebGL. This will focus the 3D plugin development efforts from Google into just WebGL on top of the OpenGL ES 2 spec, which in turn runs in the html5 <canvas> tag.

WebGL is pretty exciting offering browser based OpenGL and hardware rendered graphics. When this becomes mainstream this will change up gaming and interactive on the web immensely. Unity 3D and Flash 3d engines add lots of immersive environments and WebGL will be just as exciting, if all browsers adopt it (canvas/webgl).

At Google, we’re deeply committed to implementing and advancing standards, so as of today, the O3D project is changing direction, evolving from its current plug-in implementation into a JavaScript library that runs on top of WebGL. Users and developers will still be able to download the O3D plug-in and source code for at least one year, but other than a maintenance release, we plan to stop developing O3D as a plug-in and focus on improving WebGL and O3D as a JavaScript library.

About WebGL

WebGL is a cross-platform, royalty-free web standard for a low-level 3D graphics API based on OpenGL ES 2.0, exposed through the HTML5 Canvas element as Document Object Model interfaces. Developers familiar with OpenGL ES 2.0 will recognize WebGL as a Shader-based API using GLSL, with constructs that are semantically similar to those of the underlying OpenGL ES 2.0 API. It stays very close to the OpenGL ES 2.0 specification, with some concessions made for what developers expect out of memory-managed languages such as JavaScript.

WebGL brings plugin-free 3D to the web, implemented right into the browser. Major browser vendors Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox), and Opera (Opera) are members of the WebGL Working Group. “It feels like, someone’s missin-ing”

Friday, March 19th, 2010

UPDATE: Due to retractions it cannot be entirely confirmed that IE9 will support <canvas> of html5 spec.  They are the last browser and they must support it for it to be a real, valid solution for 2d animation.  GPU supported <canvas> would be a huge innovation but would also most likely kill Silverlight for animation, unless they integrate <canvas>.  Standards are such a tough bet, ask Adobe with the ES4 bet.  Since standards are so tough to get through and are design by committee many times, plugins still have a huge advantage of changing easily. We’ll keep an eye on IE9 to see if the <canvas> revolution will happen soon or if it will be years off.  It will most likely be years off for mainstream at any rate.

Could it be that Microsoft is innovating again?  IE9 will supposedly be largely hardware accelerated for all graphical elements and possibly <canvas> and <video> html5 tags? IE9 test drive preview available here.

It appears Microsoft has been enjoying the Apple, Adobe, Google smackdowns on each other, got lost in the dust kicked up and just done what many developers want: hardware acceleration. Firefox 3.7 also has hardware acceleration coming down the pike.

Specifically, IE9 will take advantage of the underlying hardware in different ways, both from a visual perspective as well as code execution perspective:

  • The MSHTML rendering layer has been enhanced to use Direct2D and DirectWrite instead of GDI.  Direct2D enables GPU accelerated 2D graphics and text, and allows sub-pixel positioning.  In addition, the GPU is used for scaling (bitmaps are mapped to textures), which is ideal for zooming and moving images around the screen.  This GPU support translates directly into improved readability of pages, more precise placement of text and images, and smooth scrolling and zooming.
  • JavaScript performance is greatly improved from older versions of Internet Explorer, and should be competitive if not better than competing browsers.  In the past, JavaScript in IE was interpreted and not compiled into native processor instructions.  The JavaScript engine now includes a JIT compiler which emits x86 instructions and compiles the code before it runs, resulting in a dramatic performance uplift.  Instruction generation can also be tailored to the underlying processor to take full advantage of the underlying platform.
  • IE9 is more standards compliant than previous versions, with new support for HTML5 elements such as <video>, CSS3 support, and SVG support.  All graphic elements will be accelerated on the GPU and will enable hardware accelerated rendering contexts for application development, improving visual display, reducing CPU usage, and improving power usage.

There is no excuse in this age where most people have at least a 32MB cards even on the lowly intel OEM cards to not take some advantage of hardware rendering/acceleration for aspects of web content including video, 2d, games and even 3d.

There are lots of other areas of browsers and tech that is hardware accelerated such as plugins like Unity (and Director waaay before that), video, and new tools like WebGL/O3D. Firefox 3.7 is also aiming for hardware acceleration.  This idea of browser graphical elements not just in a plugin or video player being hardware accelerated is something that might spark some very interesting and innovative experiences.

I applaud this effort and hope there is truth in it beyond just a preview that has features cut.  I also hope more browsers and plugins start doing the same besides just IE9 and Firefox. This entire blog has pretty much had an underlying hardware rendering/acceleration slant.  I have been pushing this for sometime and I believe the time is coming soon that web developers will be equipped with the power that native and game developers have for graphics soon, mainly for applications, games and experiences.

The best news is that IE9 will support html5 and <canvas>, <video> tags and ensures the new functionality that web developers will be able to use.  We’ll all have to wait for 2-3 years probably before it is something that is 90% saturated and usable in the mainstream market but it is good to know great times lie ahead.

I can’t believe I just wrote about IE possibly innovating ahead of others.

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Electronic Arts is using Unity 3D to develop Tiger Woods Online. The game is currently in beta. It was announced that they were using the engine in June on their blog but only on the reposted version here not the original post where the engine was just deemed “new technology”.

This is a major shift in the game industry and how it is being expanded into online properties that rival or better the console and desktop versions through online communities.  Quake Live from id software uses their own system that wraps existing games (originally developed by Gaim Theory then bought by id Software) and instant action technology from garage games that runs instant action.  All these systems have provided us browser based triple AAA style gaming fun.  It looks like that movement will continue as more and more game companies and publishers see the valid capabilities of Unity 3D to deliver when you need really deeply immersive 3d experiences in the browser. Also other systems like Torque 3D, Quake Live technology and more will be seeing this trend continue when it comes to games online. It is also becoming a choice for online web based 3d MMOs such as Fusion Fall and Marvel Super Hero Squad.

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

So many cool and useful technologies are unveiled at SIGGRAPH every year, this year at SIGGRAPH 2009 was no different.  Khronos Group, behind the new guidance of OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL, OpenVG, COLLADA etc, came another big announcement about hardware rendering within the browser.  WebGL is now an official standard being developed at Khronos Group to bring javascript control of OpenGL to browsers… Wow!

Ok so this was officially announced at the GDC in March but limited information, but now it has been slated for an official public standard in early 2010. Shortly after the announcement at the GDC we saw Google o3D appear doing exactly that, controlling OpenGL through Javascript in the browser but it was still largely software/harward hybrid rendered. Google, Mozilla, Opera are part of the companies supporting WebGL which is great for browser support, also NVIDIA, AMD and Ericsson are in on it.

Khronos Details WebGL Initiative to Bring Hardware-Accelerated 3D Graphics to the Internet

JavaScript Binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 for Rich 3D Web Graphics without Browser Plugins;
Wide industry Support from Major Browser Vendors including Google, Mozilla and Opera; Specification will be Available Royalty-free to all Developers

4th August, 2009 – New Orleans, SIGGRAPH 2009 – The Khronos™ Group, today announced more details on its new WebGL™ working group for enabling hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in Web pages without the need for browser plug-ins.  First announced at the Game Developers Conference in March of 2009, the WebGL working group includes many industry leaders such as AMD, Ericsson, Google, Mozilla, NVIDIA and Opera.  The WebGL working group is defining a JavaScript binding to OpenGL® ES 2.0 to enable rich 3D graphics within a browser on any platform supporting the OpenGL or OpenGL ES graphics standards.  The working group is developing the specification to provide content portability across diverse browsers and platforms, including the capability of portable, secure shader programs.  WebGL will be a royalty-free standard developed under the proven Khronos development process, with the target of a first public release in first half of 2010. Khronos warmly welcomes any interested company to become a member and participate in the development of the WebGL specification.

Google released O3D this year and there are great strides in 3d within the browser from game engine wrapper technologies such as instant action technology, gaim theory engine (now owned by id Software and runs Quake  Live, hardware rendered Unity 3D (and Torque 3D coming soon), and Flash software rendered  3d engines Papervision 3D, Away 3D, Sandy (Sandy also released a haXe version that exports a javascript version) and others.  But it looks like the movement is to bring OpenGL to the web as a standard under the name WebGL, this would be great!  There would still be lots of times where plugins are better now and in the near future but the path is a good one. Having a software/hardware rendering hybrid like Google O3D for broad video card support (some of the painful older intel cards), or using a plugin like Unity3D, Torque 3D or wrapper technology for bigger engines is a good idea for the time being. But the future is grand in this area.

I think that Google O3D and OpenGL ES success on iPhone games probably combined to get this in motion.  OpenGL and very basic video cards are now standard in most machines out there.  Unity3D actually published hardware statistics on casual gamers (web-based games) ever so kindly and shows that even though there are some older Intel cards out there, for the most part machines nowadays have a video card capable of supporting at least low-poly 3d and hardware supported 2d rendering in real-time for games, user interfaces and more.

This is exciting news, it appears the movement of the web gaming market is getting much more capable and is accelerating the innovation of hardware accelerating the web.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Google has a few things going for 3d in the browser, not just 3d but hardware rendering in the browser.  They previously had native client which allows you to run code via a plugin proxy with a sample running Quake.  They also had Lively which was a virtual world plugin that was shut down a few month after it started.

Now they are also making and releasing an O3D plugin that looks to be another way to do web 3d scenes and games although it is a very early stage. They appear to want to have an open discussion about how best to add hardware rendering to the web.  Their approach uses a javascript api to control the browser plugin and the O3D control is essentially just a renderer.

This won’t change anything now as Unity3D, Flash 3D pseudo engines, even Director 3D still are the top choices for games, apps, and interactives that need effects and possibly hardware rendering. But it is interesting that Google is essentially re-entering this debate after ditching on Lively and they must see some benefit to having a discussion about 3d on the web and 3d standards in general.  I know they have lots of models and tools with SketchUp and Google 3D warehouse so who knows maybe they will take it over by being standards, open and information based.

What is O3D?

O3D is an open-source web API for creating rich, interactive 3D applications in the browser. This API is shared at an early stage as part of a conversation with the broader developer community about establishing an open web standard for 3D graphics.

Get involved

One thing is for sure, 3d development is still old school proprietary lock in in most cases.  Working with 3d and tools like Maya, 3dsmax and others they have always been very non standard.  From file formats to interfaces to even basic movements, all different.  The general maths of 3d are the same and so should 3d pipelines.  Formats like COLLADA are nice because they are starting to open up 3d pipelines and content creation but COLLADA still has many porting issues.  FBX file format is another that is really useful and common making pipelines in Unity 3D, for instance, very nice. But it is owned and run by Autodesk who owns all the 3d apps (Maya, 3dsmax, SGI) and I am a bit leary of that method.  But in the end 3d pipelines and rendering will be somewhat standardized and maybe the web will be hardware rendered one day.  In most cases it is not needed, but for gaming, immersion, demos and other entertainment it could benefit heavily from a more standardized 3d pipeline and methods.