Andrew Mobbs (mobbsy) wrote,
Andrew Mobbs
mobbsy

MMORPGs, Second Life and Sony's Home all show that Neal Stephenson was right in Snow Crash, people like the ideas of virtual spaces and avatars for online interaction.

I suspect we're at the begining of a move of such environments onto the web.

The HTML Canvas element gets you some of the way there by providing a bitmap display. People are already building basic demos and infrastructure for 3D applications running natively in the web browser. It's a long way from simple untextured wire-frame models to WoW, but the direction is clear. Google (and many others) have already put IM into the web browser.

So, what's missing? A way for the browser to interface directly with the necessary hardware; DirectX in the browser basically, or more likely SDL. The Ajax 3D initiative have the right idea, and have an open source plugin. However, it seems that the requirement for a plugin download misses the point of the web browser as a platform. OK, so Macromedia Flash has become almost ubiquitous for a variety of content provision, but it's not really a good way forward. Despite years of Flash, Web applications didn't really take off until DHTML, XMLHttpRequest and DOM came together to form AJAX. What I think is really needed is for the browsers to offer a standardised set of APIs to Javascript for hardware; 3D accelerators, microphones, cameras and the like. Fast matrix maths libraries are probably needed too, but that shouldn't be too hard.

I'm getting a bit lost as to what the state of the art is here, YUI, GWT and OpenLaszlo look like interesting sets of libraries for building applications, but as far as I know there isn't a standardised interface to the hardware. OpenLaszlo mentions microphones, but is that only for the Flash target?

Also, in other impressive Javascript 3D nonsense, a raytracing application with simple world builder. Not quite fast enough for real-time raytraced games, but still quite a nice demo.
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