Posts Tagged ‘chrome’

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Well it has happened, Unity announced WebGL exporting.  This was a much needed announcement and our flash man on the inside, UnitZeroOne / Ralph Hauwert of good ol’ Papervision days, helped make it so. Thanks Ralph and Unity team!

This feature is in Unity 5 as a preview just announced but with the impending plugin-pocapyse I am sure it is a major focus at Unity to get to production stage.

The plugin-pocalypse is happening. Both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are taking issue and removing plugin support.  Recently I was a bit worried about web exporting and the player/plugin support as NPAPI is being deprecated in favor of PPAPI in Chrome, so Unity, Silverlight and other NPAPI built plugins would have to be rebuilt in PPAPI (unlikely as Unity already maintains NaCL) or another path. Chrome will not allow NPAPI plugins to run at the end of 2014 and already warn each time you use them. Side note: Flash plugin has been updated to PPAPI and will not go away at the end of the year, Unity player won’t either but it may not work in Chrome without explicitly allowing it or at all, still to be seen however they said they will stop supporting NPAPI December 2014 and all NPAPI plugins will no longer work. Mozilla also is fighting against plugins in favor of standards like WebGL so this entirely solves it for Firefox, for Chrome it will still run but slightly slower so there is a transition period.

Mobile really killed the plugin but it opened up standards that allow WebGL to take over. I am happy to see Unity jump on this and bring a better web export that is in line with the best out there currently with asm.js/WebGL and the performance it can bring.

Unity really does add a tons of value if everything just works in WebGL exporting as 2d in WebGL is very mature with lots of supporting platforms, but 3D and stable engines are still lacking.  (Until of course Three.js rules the world and may when it is easier to use WebGL in native apps for store like this). Let’s hope browser support for asm.js and Firefox native speeds grows, but most Unity games will run without needing it (2d games, simple games that already run well in WebGL performance ranges).  So you can easily see the Unity Player, NaCL exports going away over the next few cycles when WebGL exporting is solid possibly if it isn’t already. Another option is a grace period where Chrome exports need to be NaCL for a while if the WebGL support isn’t ready for primetime by then but from what it looks it may be there (although full support can take some time). The plugin-pocalypse is here but there is a path forward, granted game portals and other sites that host current Unity player content may have alot of work to do this year.

This change couldn’t come soon enough as we had to start thinking about other options for web content, Unity successfully hurdled this one.

There are tons of other great things in Unity 5 (currently up for pre-order) and will be out later this year, but WebGL and “plugin-less” exporting is the driver on this version and we are bought in for the next round.

Unity 5.0 Announced Features

  • The aforementioned “Early Access” to WebGL support meaning no plugins required in compatible browsers
  • 64-bit CPU support
  • Real-Time Global Illumination — the over-simplified version: the lighting system used by games like Battlefield 4 and Eve Online (a system called “Enlighten) for their more advanced lighting tricks is now built into Unity.
  • Light baking previews — Light mapping can take a while because every little tweak required a complete rebake. Light maps can now be previewed in real-time.
  • Unity Cloud — Remember the built-in ad solution that Unity announced around the middle of last year? That’ll launch with Unity 5.
  • New audio system Both more efficient and more powerful. Unity 5.0 has a proper audio mixing board to help developers tweak the way things sound in different in-game environments.
  • Nvidia PhysX 3.3 While Unity has used Nvidia’s physics engine for years, the version built into Unity 4.0 has been outdated for a while now. 5.0 taps PhysX 3.3, which is up to 2x as fast.

Unity 5 will probably be available later in the year and may launch around Q3/Q4, can’t wait to play with the WebGL exporter. Here’s hoping it is solid by the end of the year.

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!

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Firefox 4 with WebGLFirefox 4 in beta to be released soon, also joins the WebGL ranks with Chrome 9.  Safari has it in nightlies and IE hasn’t even mentioned it.

There really is too much to list as this release is feature packed! Of course the most exciting being WebGL and hardware acceleration from our perspective.

Firefox 4 now has WebGL enabled by default. Based on the original 3-D Canvas work by Vladimir Vukićević, this is being

widely implemented in browsers. The WebGL spec is on the short path to a 1.0 release and we’re very excited to see this be used in the wild.

Hardware acceleration has finally arrived even though it should have been in nearly all platforms for web last decade, but we’ll take it.

Firefox 4 supports full hardware acceleration on Windows 7 and Windows Vista via a combination of D2D, DX9 and DX10. This allows us to accelerate everything from Canvas drawing to video rendering. Windows XP users will also enjoy hardware acceleration for many operations because we’re using our new Layers infrastructure along with DX9. And, of course, OSX users have excellent OpenGL support, so we’ve got that covered as well.

The javascript engine JaegerMonkey is comparably fast to SunSpider and V-8 javascript benchmarks and has support for EC5 javascript.

And you might have noticed that it’s really fast. This is the world’s first third-generation JavaScript engine, using Baseline JIT technology similar to engines found in other browsers and kicked up a level with the Tracing engine found in Firefox 3.6. As such, we’re competitive on benchmarks such as Sunspider and V8, but we’re also fast at a whole mess of things that we expect to see in the set of next-generation web applications, hence Kraken.

WebConsole looks like they are joining Chrome and Safari with built in inspection tools similar to Firebug, however Firebug still available.

Firefox 4 will include the Web Console. This is a new tool that will let you inspect a web page as it’s running, see network activity, see messages logged with console.log, see warnings for a page’s CSS, and a number of other things.

Note this that is something that we’ll be including with Firefox 4 directly. It’s not an add-on.

(Also Firebug will be ready for the final Firefox 4 release.)

Firefox 4 has other improvements like layering (in-memory retained layers), caching/scheduling improvements and lots of other performance enhancements.

2011 is looking like the year all this is coming together, at least for Chrome, Firefox, possibly Safari (need WebGL in main release) and IE is still the biggest problem to getting WebGL. At this point WebGL looks like it is still over a year out as it may not come to IE until IE10 or possibly never, the WebGL 1.0 spec is on the fast track though (don’t we all love Khronos? They have been amazing with OpenGL since they took over).  html5 is looking like it will be close to mainstream by the end of this year depending on the install rate of IE9 when released.

The world is waiting to see if Microsoft implements WebGL or tries the old DirectX/D2D only ways.  Nevertheless, getting a push for hardware acceleration and fast renders in 2d/3d is a very sweet direction.

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, December 9th, 2009

Google is pushing Web Sockets into Chrome based on the Web Socket standards being developed at all major engineering standards groups.  Web Socket is an interesting direction but it is great to couple that with O3G or WebGL for some multiplayer 3d game development with just a browser.

Starting in the Google Chrome developer channel release 4.0.249.0, Web Sockets are available and enabled by default. Web Sockets are “TCP for the Web,” a next-generation bidirectional communication technology for web applications being standardized in part of Web Applications 1.0. We’ve implemented this feature as described in our design docs for WebKit and Chromium.

Sample Code

if ("WebSocket" in window) {
  var ws = new WebSocket("ws://example.com/service");
  ws.onopen = function() {
    // Web Socket is connected. You can send data by send() method.
    ws.send("message to send"); ....
  };
  ws.onmessage = function (evt) { var received_msg = evt.data; ... };
  ws.onclose = function() { // websocket is closed. };
} else {
  // the browser doesn't support WebSocket.
}

Socket Advantage

Flash has long been the answer for sockets for web applications and once sockets were added to Flash it instantly became a better interactive and gaming platform for multi-user applications and multiplayer games. They started with XmlSocket then recently added Socket for raw binary data in as3.  Silverlight and Java also have this feature but having this in script is pretty significant because many applications could really use a browser supported bi-directional communication link.

What is Missing

The biggie missing from Flash, Silverlight, etc and Web Sockets is UDP and preferably RUDP or Reliable UDP which allows UDP datagrams to be sent back and forth either verified delivery or broadcast. Unity does support UDP.  The best socket layers are reliable UDP based because mixing TCP and UDP can lead to queuing and not all messages are critical so having just UDP isn’t enough, having TCP is too much.  Reliable UDP is the way to go but so far no web layers are doing it well except Unity on that one (you still have to make your own RUDP implementation – libraries like Raknet or enet in C/C++ give you this but you can’t use that in Unity client only on the server). (Edit: Flash does have RTMFP which is based on UDP and uses FMS for nat for p2p but it is still not a true low level UDP socket just yet as it supports more features. A low-level UDP socket would also be nice in flash.)

Web Communication Evolving

I am a big Flash fan and have been developing it since 1999 among other platforms, I have recently watched other technologies nearly match the features and some go beyond it.  The interesting thing about Web Sockets is that it does go after a core feature of flash; Canvas and WebGL or O3D also do. Flash still has the webcam, mic, sound mixers/tranform, and for now sockets which put it at an advantage in gaming and interactive. Flash used to  be the sole greatest video player but Silverlight is doing a pretty good job of that as well so that is still an advantage but others are entering including possibly browser support in html5. I still think it is the best video but they would need to keep innovating.

Another interesting point about this is XMLHttpRequest objects.  Originally “AJAX” was created by Microsoft for IE, pushing new features and innovating back when IE was a good browser and ahead in IE4. Mozilla and others adopted this feature (as well as editable text areas for html) because they were great features for web applications to evolve to.  now Google is pushing with Chrome and Web Sockets is the next step that should be in web browsers even if it is only TCP based for now.  This will add great capabilities and will probably be preferred over AJAX/XMLHttpRequest for really interactive and real-time tools/games should it take hold.  Ian Hickson is running the table on the standards with this effort and it is a good one to get behind.