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3D Graphics For Firefox, Webkit

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the vrml-redux dept.

Firefox 198

angry tapir writes "A group of researchers plans to release a version of the Firefox browser that includes the built-in ability to view 3D graphics. They've integrated real-time ray tracing technology, called RT Fact, into Firefox and Webkit. Images are described using XML3D, and the browser can natively render the 3D scene." The browser will be released within a few weeks, the researchers say, and they are checking with the Mozilla Foundation about whether they can call it Firefox.

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Clarification (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357798)

Images are described using XML3D, and the browser can natively render the 3D scene.

Does this mean this technology will be used strictly for 3D images/scenes, or when they say 3D are they referring to gaming?

Re:Clarification (2, Insightful)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357856)

Even more confusing, is this meant to compliment WebGL [wikipedia.org] or replace it? While I think it would be neat-o to have real-time ray tracing in the browser, the WebGL working group consists of some big names like Apple, Google, and Mozilla.

Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31357978)

We realized that 3D graphics in the browser were stupid and useless back in 1995, when the VRML hype was much like the HTML5 hype is today.

It's one of those things that sounds fantastic, but in reality there are very few useful applications.

This is just the 15-20 year cycle we typically see with computing technology. Many of the Firefox developers were born after 1990, so they aren't even aware of the browser experiments and failures before about 2005. Not knowing history, they're doomed to repeat the mistakes of the true innovators.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (4, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358096)

WebGL/RT/HTML5 are not fundamentally stupid. VRML hype mistakenly centered around a 3D navigation model for most of the web replacing 2D textual interaction with some image content, which was stupid.

However, richer multimedia content is a fact of life now with increased bandwidth. If it were not, then flash wouldn't persist (overuse of flash was a fad that has abated a bit in favor of javascript/css mechanisms, but flash persists for video and games without viable alternatives). Various video streaming sites that are relegated to flash today for games and videos would be freed from Adobe's whims as the embedded video, canvas, and 3d capabilities are expressed in industry standard terms.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358294)

Agreed. I'd be much happier if they built a Firefox that could perform better with Flash websites. I have to use some pretty Flash intensive websites and my Firefox crashes too often. I don't have that problem with Chrome. Have been using FF since pre-1.0 version but I feel like it's getting slower and slower no matter what they claim and 2.x didn't crash as much as 3.x does (although 3.x seems to be a bit better, just a bit, at handling memory use).

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358392)

flash persists for video and games without viable alternatives).

The viable alternative is for video is HTML 5 video, and the viable alternative for games is JavaScript and CSS sprites [alistapart.com] . Or what am I missing?

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358408)

Or what am I missing?

3D games.

CSS sprites are fine... for sprite-based games.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358576)

For 3D we have WebGL
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebGL

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358712)

For 3D, maybe you have WebGL...

Component returned failure code: 0x80070057 (NS_ERROR_ILLEGAL_VALUE) [nsIDOMHTMLCanvasElement.getContext]

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (5, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358136)

We realized that 3D graphics in the browser were stupid and useless back in 1995, when the VRML hype was much like the HTML5 hype is today.

There are a few differences.

VRML was never really an industry standard, it evolved from an SGI project and was adopted by a few other companies. There were competing technologies that seemed better, but were mostly closed. In any case, they required browser plugins that were large, clunky, and crashy.

At the height of VRML's popularity, there really weren't any standards for desktop 3D acceleration. Getting decent performance from a VRML browser required a pretty fast machine, and the graphics were very crude even then.

Now we have an industry standard backed by the group in charge of HTML, ridiculously fast 3d hardware on even low end desktops, and, with the modded FireFox and Webkit backends, integration with the codebase.

This might end up working.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358352)

How is HTML5 any more of a "standard" that VRML was? It has basically came out of Google, with mixed adoption by a few other companies/organizations (Apple, Opera, Mozilla).

Microsoft, who like it or not still produces the browsers that represent over 75% of the browser market, really hasn't shown any interest in adopting it. Maybe the W3C will bless HTML5, but that doesn't change the fact that it'll work for only 25% of Web users.

Regardless, what you've said still doesn't change the fact that this is generally a useless technology. The best we'll get out of it are some games, and these will run like shit anyways because they'll be written using JavaScript. Maybe another virtual world or two (which we already have with Second Life and WoW). Most video operations don't benefit at all from 3D graphics; they inherently need 2D acceleration.

Like we found in the 1990s with VRML, 3D rendering in the browser is of limited use. It's a novelty that's bound to resurface every 15 years or so, as people forget the experiments and failures of the previous generation of developers.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (1)

dotHectate (975458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358418)

Honestly I think that there is only one possible benefit to this. Describing the source (via XML3D or Flash or some form of a vector format image) has the potential to reduce the size of images. Need a 1600x1200 image of Earth? That's 46,080,000 bits of data required to represent it. The same thing generated in 3D could be as simple as the number of characters in this comment (sphere plus texture). Even with the texture file needed it's still more efficient. But I don't want VRML again either.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358578)

*cough*
http://www.web3d.org/x3d/specifications/vrml/

still it's the idea that the web should deliver *also* the presentation of the documents that is basically flawed, the web should only do it's job of marking up text and other resources in a way that makes easy to the browser to display them while still leaving the freedom to the user on how to process the content, without forcing the presentation style. That's why flash is so bad, in the end, and the market space for web plugins is narrowing each day with the fifth cometh of html.

yeah, 3d plugin could push the forcing of the presentation up so far, but in the end there is no need to deliver 3d data to the client, so there is no future for this kind of effort. If we wanted to watch 3d object on the web, vrml would have been in wide use by now. However, I can potentially see how this could be used for fully 3d entertainment, but real 3d films, films in which you can navigate trough the scenes, won't be coming for a loooong time and probably never. For everything else, youtube + html5 already have support for 3d display, so meh.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (4, Interesting)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358180)

We realized that 3D graphics in the browser were stupid and useless back in 1995...

...and slow! I was there when VRML was landing (just finished high school) and all I saw it used for were virtual rooms were avatars would talk in a 3D IRC like environment. Only big problem back then was we didn't have 3D acceleration and the interface was clunky and painfully slideshow like in speed.

As for uses, I could think of a few and have already started coding them. Instead of loading a PNG or GIF, it is pretty nice to be able to download a float array, be able to display it, and allow a user to interrogate it. Giving a user that kind of capability in the browser while not requiring them to download an application or a browser plugin is pretty darn nice. And while not mainstream, scientific fields could greatly benefit from something like that.

Re:Doesn't matter. 3D in the browser is stupid. (1)

sosume (680416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358616)

> Many of the Firefox developers were born after 1990

Are you saying that one of the currently most popular (and relied on) pieces of software
is being written and maintained by a bunch of high-school kids? I call shenanigans.

Re:Clarification (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358040)

I dunno, but this is a field that desperately needs some kind of leadership. How many technologies have we had in this field over the years. Countless markup formats, plug-ins and APIs and we haven't gotten too far in all this time.

Re:Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358944)

welcome to the bullshit that is html5, dhtml, vrml & all the rest. why bother....?

meanwhile, back in the real world, flash 3d goes from strength to strength. with gpu acceleration in the pipeline (no pun intended) its a clear winner.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papervision#Projects [wikipedia.org]

Re:Clarification (1)

supernatendo (1523947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358074)

Looks like some "research group" a.k.a R&D for a company in the works with this Slusallek guy as the C.E.O.

If that is the case then you can bet that down the line you will see him try to sue WebGL for patent infringement...

Obviously he can't benefit monetarilly from an OpenSource project like WebGL so he makes his own browser based on Firefox which uses HIS proprietary 3D rendering and still wants to call it "Firefox"

A fine patent troll in the making if I may say so myself...

Re:Clarification (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358158)

Patent trolls don't actually make anything, this guy did. He could turn out to be a litigious bastard anyway, perhaps not. But in any case he would not be a patent troll.

Re:Clarification (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358668)

still wants to call it "Firefox"

If they allow it, they're fucking hypocrites, after what happened with Debian [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Clarification (4, Insightful)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357860)

Does this mean this technology will be used strictly for 3D images/scenes, or when they say 3D are they referring to gaming?

Obviously and according to TFA, they're referring to 3D images/scenes. Gaming would require, amongst other things, browser-support for raw input devices, (at-least partial) server-side magic for processing interactive events. While these are definitely possible, they're not what this is about.

Re:Clarification (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358208)

Depends on what you mean by “gaming”... a lot of games can be played with the keyboard and mouse, and without connecting to a server at all. And Ajax can be used when the server is needed.

What I find more interesting, though, is that this would reveal the source code of your game to a much greater degree than, say, a Java applet does... allowing people to perhaps hook into or modify your code in order to cheat. An attempt to create anti-cheating measures would be interesting, to say the least.

Re:Clarification (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358462)

I think a simple anti-cheating measure would be to have the function names of the delivered JavaScript different each time it is delivered. Maybe even minor structural changes in your code.
After all, who says your JavaScript cannot be generated by a cgi script?

Player 2 uses what? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358476)

a lot of games can be played with the keyboard and mouse

Player 1 uses a keyboard and mouse. Player 2 uses what? Per the same origin policy, applications running in web browsers do not connect peer-to-peer, so communications among the separate PCs, one for each player, will have to be bounced off a server through AJAX or Web Sockets as in an MMORPG. Latency probably won't be good enough for a twitch-fest first-person shooter.

An attempt to create anti-cheating measures would be interesting, to say the least.

It would involve running a copy of the game simulation on the server and synchronizing the two instances through AJAX or Web Sockets. Then the server can tell when the player does something he's obviously not supposed to.

Verdict: the architecture of web games will likely discourage twitch-fests that a simple bot can play better than a human.

Re:Player 2 uses what? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358600)

Player 2 uses what?

A different computer. And yeah, you’re going to have to use a server to do this, which means you’ll have latency, and it probably won’t work well for certain types of games, which is pretty much what I said before.

It would involve running a copy of the game simulation on the server and synchronizing the two instances through AJAX or Web Sockets. Then the server can tell when the player does something he's obviously not supposed to.

Many forms of cheating are undetectable by the server. Wallhacks, aimbots, and full-scale botting... these are not easily detectable on the server. (Wallhacks are easily preventable by not sending the client the information about the other side of the wall... but preventability is a slightly different question from detectability.)

Verdict: the architecture of web games will likely discourage twitch-fests that a simple bot can play better than a human.

Probably. But like I said... if someone tried to make one, their anti-cheating measures would be interesting.

Re:Player 2 uses what? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358704)

will have to be bounced off a server through AJAX or Web Sockets as in an MMORPG. Latency probably won't be good enough for a twitch-fest first-person shooter.

"As in MMORPGs"? That's what happens in all games, except a handful which actually use P2P. All commercial FPS need some kind of server, even if it's one of the players' PC (as in LAN games).

Re:Clarification (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358534)

What I find more interesting, though, is that this would reveal the source code of your game to a much greater degree than, say, a Java applet does... allowing people to perhaps hook into or modify your code in order to cheat. An attempt to create anti-cheating measures would be interesting, to say the least.

Not really, you just leave the client as a glorified renderer and do all of the core game logic on the server side, like in Game! [wittyrpg.com] .

Re:Clarification (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358666)

You’d still have the possibility that players could bot.

You’re trusting that the clicks and keystrokes that the client says it received were actually performed by a player, not a bot. When the bot can directly hook into your Javascript functions and the objects in your 3D environment, it’s significantly easier to build than it would be if it had to capture screenshots and scrape the information from those. So you’d naturally want to detect and/or avoid these sort of hooks. (Randomizing names, as suggested by maxwell demon, is probably a fairly viable idea.)

oh great. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31357808)

so this means that in the near future ill have to have quad sli pci-e cards with 1tb of ram and a few extra powersupplies to render all of the popup/under/over/through ads.

but really, someone educate me... why would anyone find 3d rendering in a browser useful? its almost certainly not going to be able to compete, quality wise, with any recent high end graphics renderings (lightwave/maya, etc)--- and with modern compression schemes and encoding formats and everyone having broadband, why wouldnt someone just embed a higher quality video into their site instead of rendering 3d inside of the browser?

i cant just imagine firefox now, instead of consuming 500mb of ram playing some simple facebook games consuming 2gb loading 3d models instead of 2d sprites.

Re:oh great. (0, Troll)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357842)

so this means that in the near future ill have to have quad sli pci-e cards with 1tb of ram and a few extra powersupplies to render all of the popup/under/over/through ads.

Not if you stick to Internet Explorer. Then you just need the TB of RAM to render the Flash elements sent to you as an alternative for the native XML3D/HTML5/Javascript ads.

Re:oh great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358372)

Lol, anti-M$ post. Classic dingen!

Re:oh great. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358826)

Now imagine rendering it in 3D!

Two word (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31357868)

Porn ography.

Re:Two word (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358210)

Oh. Yeah. OK, now I get it. Up until this moment I couldn't see any possible reason why anyone would want to do this other than to burn some VC money.

Now I realize this is the next big thing.

However it won't take off until some lame non-porn apps use it somehow, so we can justify having it installed on our machines. Once that happens, people will use it like crazy monkeys.

The parent is marked "funny", but I'm completely serious.

Re:Two word (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358338)

Oh. Yeah. OK, now I get it. Up until this moment I couldn't see any possible reason why anyone would want to do this other than to burn some VC money.

Now I realize this is the next big thing.

However it won't take off until some lame non-porn apps use it somehow, so we can justify having it installed on our machines. Once that happens, people will use it like fornicating monkeys.

The parent is marked "funny", but I'm completely serious.

There fixed that for you.

My wife is a personal trainer. She has her clients do this exercise called "fornicating monkey". Do a deep knee bend, and then grab the back of your ankles. Now repeatedly squat lower.

No. I don't have any idea what this has to do with the subject at hand. Just thought it was funny.

Re:oh great. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357976)

It could be interactive, respond to mouse clicks....etc.

Re:oh great. (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358058)

In the article they said they demoed a version of the wikipedia page for Venice and a user could walk around a scene of one of Venice's cathedrals in browser. That is pretty cool, but I agree it will go through the same thing that flash and midi music went through when they got added to the browser: there will be overuse everywhere for 5-10 years until web designers finally take back control from their clients and get back to designing good looking useful interfaces that only use 3D scenes when it really makes sense.

Re:oh great. (2, Insightful)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358458)

Sounds very futuristic, really cool. What would be the next step?

I know: 3D chat rooms! Or even better, chat rooms are sooo 20th century: let's make a 3D social network! You would create your own avatar, purchase a house, meet with friends... It would be like a second life, but online!

Removing my tongue from my cheek for a second, if that's the usage it will get, I can't see how it would succeed when VRML failed doing the same (albeit slower) 15 years ago.

Re:oh great. (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358724)

How about just a 3D product model when you're looking at a new widget? A 3D map of where a place is? Hell, just simple games in more than two dimensions? There are lots of places where 3D can really enhance information. It doesn't have to take over the entire interface like with Second Life and how VRML was positioned.

Re:oh great. (1)

mr crypto (229724) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358086)

I'm in medical software development and we desperately want a good 3D browser solution. Not sure if this one will fill the bill though in terms of all of the other facets to software tools like standardization, reliability, stability, etc.

Re:oh great. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358138)

why wouldnt someone just embed a higher quality video into their site instead of rendering 3d inside of the browser?

Sheesh people, it's not like we're speculating about something totally new here. There are lots of popular 3d web apps [miniclip.com] already (such as this game, which should make the point of "why render in the browser" obvious). This is just a new language for doing it.

Re:oh great. (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358166)

It's a nice operating system, with serious hardware requirements, it just needs a web browser.

Re:oh great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358400)

Simple,If one look at the history of gaming industry in digital media it goes like this. They started with text-based(60s) followed by 2D games uses 2D sprites, then few isometric view games/ 3D perspective view(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_games_with_isometric_graphics), then we had full 3d games. And in full 3d games also, the trend is at first 3D models has very less detail ( basic contours ) later 3D models with textures, then 3D games with Non photorealistic rendering (NPR), then now the games we are playing are photorealisitic rendering, in future we going to have real time photorealistic rendering .

Now, browser based games the history goes like this, they started with text-based followed by 2d games, then few isometric view games (farmville).. Following April 2010, with 3D graphics in browsers, we can except to have Non Photorealisitc rendering games.

Dont you get it ? We are re-writing an operating system to fit into a browser.

Re:oh great. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358506)

Dont you get it ? We are re-writing an operating system to fit into a browser.

True, it's an inner platform, but advantages of an inner platform include portability and privilege separation.

Re:oh great. (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358716)

but really, someone educate me... why would anyone find 3d rendering in a browser useful?

porn

No love for VRML (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357814)

We've had 3D graphics for YEARS in browsers. It is called VRML and it is a standard that has been with us since the early days of graphical browsers.

But the real question is who in their right mind will develop anything as ephemeral as a web page with this complicated technology? The time investment involved to come out with even the simplest of models is enormous. Maybe not John Pinette enormous, something smaller like Louie Anderson enormous.

Re:No love for VRML (4, Funny)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357934)

I have "fond" memories of vrml sites, a 14,400 modem, and a 486 slc machine. One thing about it, though, it was peppier than 1995 Java!

Re:No love for VRML (3, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357952)

Just like Second Life, the 3D web is not something people actually want, but more something which makes sense to old fashioned journalists who write for old fashioned media.

They think it sounds great. Looking at pretty things instead of reading boring stuff is in their eyes the ultimate evolution of computing. That's why you keep reading this sort of stuff all the time. But it will never stick, because in reality, it's just not very useful.

Re:No love for VRML (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358008)

The way I see it: If there was real use/demand for it, it would be here already...

Re:No love for VRML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358722)

The way I see it: If there was real use/demand for it, it would be here already...

My instinct is to agree, because I never happened to have ever seen or imagined any way that 3D in a browser would be useful.

However, when you put it the way you just did, I get these flashbacks of infamous old quotations about how every good idea has already been invented, there's a world market for 6 computers, etc.

I think the way this should play out, is that someone needs to think of an application where 3D is useful. And then it'll be time to think about how to put 3D into the browser. Don't count out the first thing from ever happening, but it's certainly correct to say that no one has done it (and told the world) yet.

Re:No love for VRML (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358316)

Just like Second Life, the 3D web is not something people actually want

The 50K people logged in [secondlife.com] right now would seem to disagree. Right now it's a fairly low activity time, should go up later. And from the inside it seems to be still getting larger.

They think it sounds great. Looking at pretty things instead of reading boring stuff is in their eyes the ultimate evolution of computing. That's why you keep reading this sort of stuff all the time. But it will never stick, because in reality, it's just not very useful.

I see it in a different way. Not everything has to be a revolution. Back when there was a lot of news about SL there was a lot of hype for sure, but there must be some use to it, since it didn't die when it stopped getting talked about so much. Some people see no point in SL, that's perfectly fine. I see no point WoW either, but that doesn't make it a failure just because it fails to appeal to every person on the planet.

I think this will be in the same way. Uses will be found for it. It won't be a revolution that will change every website everywhere. Not everybody has an espresso machine, and not everybody is going to have 3D on their website, but that doesn't mean those aren't useful things.

Re:No love for VRML (1)

twoshortplanks (124523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358482)

Google Earth in your browser

Re:No love for VRML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358654)

Two words:

pr0n!

Re:No love for VRML (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358738)

Why does the whole web have to be 3D or not? Why can't we just make the parts of it 3D that make sense to make 3D? It's not a hard damn concept.

Re:No love for VRML (1)

Jaydee23 (1741316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358012)

Who will use it? I'm sure that there will be somebody who develops the next big thing with it and hypes it to the stratosphere. I'm constantly amazed by what catches on on the web (Twitter? FourSquare? Go figure) Needless to say I never invest in web companies.

Re:No love for VRML (1)

davechen (247143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358062)

VRML always sucked. In particular that plugins that were supposed to do VRML sucked.

Who knows if it will be any different this time around.

As for who would like 3D graphics on the web, well I would. And there are tons of 3d models out on the internet, so throwing together a simple scene shouldn't be too difficult.

Re:No love for VRML (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358192)

I don't see this as a technology to dominate the web experience, but rather to enable things like running a first-person-shooter or other games, or perhaps other special-purpose applications, but games would be the broader case.

Re:No love for VRML (2, Insightful)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358240)

I don't think that the point of 3D graphics in a browser is to build entire websites as 3D environments, but rather to have specialized sections of websites where they are applicable. For instance, fully rotatable views of items that you might purchase. Aside from being cumbersome to program, VRML wasn't nearly good enough to do something like that. This might be, however. I think that this technology, especially combined with the canvas tag, has the potential to do a lot of good for the web.

Re:No love for VRML (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358252)

That's like saying "Why do we need XML when we already have HTML?" - better to ask "why not use the official successor to VRML, i.e. X3D?"

Re:No love for VRML (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358368)

That's like saying "Why do we need XML when we already have HTML?"

No.
Either: "Why do we need XML when we already have SGML?"
Or: "Why do we need XHTML when we already have HTML?"

Short answer (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31357828)

The browser will be released within a few weeks, the researchers say, and they are checking with the Mozilla Foundation about whether they can call it Firefox.

No.

CPU hungry (2, Insightful)

sshock (975534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357844)

Do I really want my CPU to overload while navigating the web?

Re:CPU hungry (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358072)

RT Fact is a GPU ray tracer, I think.

Re:CPU hungry (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358230)

Expect to see amazing new exploits using the GPU.

Re:CPU hungry (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358710)

That may or may not be true. On the one hand the GPU doesn't have an OS so there isn't any protection of memory from any program which seems like exploitation might be pretty trivial, but GPU code doesn't have access to the disk drives or to CPU memory, so it would be hard to craft an exploit that did anything other than crash the machine. IMO.

Re:CPU hungry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358324)

he is using an intel gpu. its overloading his cpu because intel can't build gpus to save their lives

Re:CPU hungry (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358340)

My CPU already overloads from browsing the web. I'm begining to think I need to ditch firefox anyways...

Calling it Firefox (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357878)

The name of the Debian version of Firefox is Iceweasel. Based on that, I'm assuming that the Mozilla Corporation is going to exercise their trademark and kindly request that these researchers think of a better name for their fork of Firefox that incorporates XML3D.

If successful, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Mozilla folks include this feature in a future release of Firefox.

Call it Cerberus (3, Interesting)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357918)

I'd propose "Cerberus" as the name for their forked version of Firefox that has XML3D rendering capability. Cerberus is is three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades. After all, Hades has lots of fire and the connection between foxes and dogs is tangible (they are both canines, AFAIK).

Re:Call it Cerberus (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358018)

Especially given that they have a link "coding hell" in the navigation column ...

Re:Call it Cerberus (3, Funny)

Asclepius99 (1527727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358142)

I'm voting for PerspectivePanda.

Re:Call it Cerberus (2, Funny)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358288)

How about GraphGiraffe? PixelPup? RenderRabbit? TraceTripe?

Re:Call it Cerberus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358398)

I am so down with GraphGiraffe.

Re:Call it Cerberus (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358662)

The name "Cerberus" is already in use for an FTP server: http://www.cerberusftp.com/ [cerberusftp.com]

Dunno if they have a trademark or service mark on it, though.

It also might get confused with Kerberos by people who don't know better! :)

Re:Calling it Firefox (4, Insightful)

phooka.de (302970) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357966)

If successful, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Mozilla folks include this feature in a future release of Firefox.

Heaven forbid, please no!

We don't need a rendering engine for every arcane formalt ever developed incorparated into a browser that's deployed on millions of desktops. Just remember, each supported protocol adds new complexety, new errors and with this new secutiry-issues that'll lead to exploits, bad press, compromised machines and painful bugfixing.

Stuff like this should never be part of the browser, it should be an addon.

No thanks (1)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31357990)

Not interested. What I want: rendering accelerated by the graphics card, in some way, better than (if) it is now. No more slow scrolling pages full of graphics.

Ahh, the day that comes...

Re:No thanks (3, Informative)

Briareos (21163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358088)

Ahh, the day that comes...

Believe it or not, it's already landed [mozilla.org] on trunk - at least for Firefox running on Windows 7.

np: Autechre.ws Webcast (02.03.2010)

Re:No thanks (1)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358238)

Indeed, but what about us who run real OSes? ;)

Might be worth trying out on the W7 machine though!

Re:No thanks (1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358990)

Looks like they are working on a Cairo backend as well.

Re:No thanks (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31359036)

Might help if the "real OSes" provided more useful 3d apis to build on instead of having to do things from scratch, no? ;)

Gallery? (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358020)

I've searched the web but I can't find any picture of an image rendered with RT Fact. The news are repeated in various news sites, as always, but none of them has a single image of the 3d engine output.

Re:Gallery? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358122)

Try the PC World [pcworld.com] article. FWIW RT Fact is a 3D ray tracing engine. I guess they integrated it into the browser somehow. But saying it does not require a plugin? Eh seems strange to me. I thought RT Fact was written in C++ with x86 assembler intrinsics.

Re:Gallery? (2, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358176)

Ok, it's a video, not an image ... [youtube.com]
Found, of course, with Google.
Searching directly on YouTube gives two further results. [youtube.com]

Re:Gallery? (1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31359022)

Ok, is it just me, or does that demo look really slow. Are they using any hardware acceleration for this stuff?

Tech for the future (2, Informative)

muyla (1429487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358042)

Maybe this tech will be big when 3d monitors are out... just imagine the pop ups really poping out of your screen :)

Re:Tech for the future (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358858)

Is that you, Master Shake?

Ray tracing vs. Rasterization (2, Insightful)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358068)

Why would they choose real time ray tracing over rasterization methods? Rasterization is still much faster and you can achieve all kinds of ray tracing like effects if you want to.

Re:Ray tracing vs. Rasterization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358186)

Because to rasterise beforehand you need to know the attributes (dimensions, resolution, color gammut) of the output device. These vary considerably between connecting machines. Precomputing the rasterisation is faster, but is of less quality. It depends what you use the web for if speed or quality is preferred.

Re:Ray tracing vs. Rasterization (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358602)

I think quadelirus was talking about doing the rasterization [wikipedia.org] on the client using triangle-mesh-based methods like WebGL, speculating that WebGL would be faster than even GPU-accelerated ray tracing.

Re:Ray tracing vs. Rasterization (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358636)

You posted as anon - I do hope you bookmarked and come back to check for replies, though.

I think you misunderstood the meaning of the word 'rasterisation' here.

In overly simplistic terms... rasterisation is what your gaming card / console does whenever you play a game of Modern Warfare 2, HALO, etc. This is unrelated to pre-rendered content.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rasterisation [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ray tracing vs. Rasterization (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358886)

Yes, Rasterization vs. Ray Tracing presents a trade-off between speed and quality. Obviously truly ray traced scenes with nicely modeled materials and light sources will produce better images than rasterization. In this case, however, we are not talking strictly about ray tracing vs. rasterization. We are talking about real time ray tracing vs. rasterization. Real time, meaning that we are assuming a lower bound of, say, 15 fps (this is pretty poor, but just to pick one). At that speed (or faster) rasterization beats real time ray tracers in terms of quality, especially when it comes to renderers that can't be tuned for a specific app (i.e. a browser based viewer that needs to be able to render a general, user created scene vs. a game that knows what its scenes will look like and can tune things so that the features used are fast in deference to other features).

On top of that you can do some tricks with the rasterization to fake lots of ray traced effects like caustics, global illumination, glossy-glossy reflections, etc.

Maybe, the thought, just to give a potential answer to my question above, is that the 3D window in the browser will be resolution limited enough (say 400x400 pixels) that ray tracing will begin to make more sense. But in this sort of case the differences between rasterization with some of the tricks built in and ray tracing will probably not be noticable.

Anyway, I still want the question answered. As far as I know (and I'm a graphics researcher--though a relatively new one, so I'm still learning) real time ray tracing is really not nearly as good as rasterization in terms of quality for a real time frame rate on reasonably fast consumer hardware. If I'm wrong, please post links to academic papers detailing the high quality fast ray tracers, because I'd like to add them to my "to read" queue.

Re:Ray tracing vs. Rasterization (2, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31359014)

Because rasterization 'with all kinds of ray tracing like effects' is a bitch.

Shadows alone are extremely complicated in a rasterizer, with special cases for self shadowing, for when the camera is within a shadow or not, when something reflective is being rendered, when something refractive is being rendered, and so on and on.

Essentially nobody has EVER made general purpose rasterizer that flawlessly supports shadows in concert with all the other 'ray tracing like effects' and it is likely that nobody ever will, because the problem is more than just non-trivial. There is always another edge case. Games get away with it because they impose restrictions (explicit or implicit) which avoid most of the edge cases that the renderer can't handle.

Even highly developed engines such as Valve's Source Engine still have problems with incorrect shadowing of their own (non-arbitrary) content, and thats in scenes without reflections or refractions complicating the problem. Now factor in that a renderer such as this is supposed to render arbitrary content, and you see the main problem with rasterizers as general purpose photo-realistic renderers is that nobody can do it, in spite of decades of effort.

The reason to use a raytracer is because all the photo-realistic behaviors of light fall right out of it by definition. Adding yet another behavior of light is simple. Shadows, reflection, refraction, global illumination.. its all SIMPLE (tho certainly less efficient.) The problematic "quality" issues raytracers have are trivial in comparison, with the hardest probably being the inherent aliasing of sub-pixel features.

mtod doWn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358134)

give BSD Cred]it

I like it (1)

Chrigi (1581379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358450)

I think easy to program and easily accessible 3D is good for the web. There are quite some cases, where it makes a lot of sense. The Wikipedia example they showed is actually kinda neat. Some things just work better in 3D than 2D (e.g. molecular structures). From Text to Pictures to Animations to Video to 3D; I think it's just the next step of content display and doesn't replace everything on the web but adds to it and opens the web to a whole new range of content. Of course there are things one can see as negatives but that doesn't make it bad in principle. CPU/GPU/RAM hunger might not be as we wish and choosing ray tracing might be a rather strange choice. It's not like you'll browse the web as you would play Second Life.

3d browser markup extensions since 1990s (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358508)

I remember playing with a few 15 years ago. They wrapped OpenGL as I recall. They did not perform very well in the pre-broadband era.

I hope you can disable this. (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358514)

I hope there's an option to disable this in the browser.
I can already imagine that the only place where this tech will get used will be in advertising banners etc.

Re:I hope you can disable this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358942)

Nope, you won't be able to. Ever. In fact, as soon as you install it, it'll be burned on to the motherboard itself to refuse any and all ways to disable or uninstall this in your browser. It'll fucking ETCH ITSELF ONTO YOUR BRAIN to prevent you from doing anything against it. Oh, and it'll force you to LOVE it and NEVER WANT TO DO ANYTHING WITHOUT IT EVER AGAIN. And then THEY'LL ALL SPY ON YOU AND STEAL YOUR SOUL.

Yes, of COURSE you'll be able to turn it off. Seesh, THIS coming from the Pavlovian-response-like "FlashBlock is teh answar to EVERYTHING!!!!!" Slashdot crowd? Fnord fnord fnord fnord.

X3DOM based on WebGL (1)

bernd_semmel (1759712) | more than 4 years ago | (#31358660)

AFAIK there is already a working HTML5 conform 3D implementation based on WebGL and the X3D standard. It's called X3DOM (http://x3dom.org [x3dom.org] ).

There's no need for a separate build of Firefox when an HTML5 conform implementation will work out of the box in Firefox 3.7 via WebGL. There's already an official bug by Sam Ruby (http://intertwingly.net/blog/2009/11/05/Web3D [intertwingly.net] ) in the W3C bug tracker (http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=8238 [w3.org] ).

Real-estate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358904)

Could have its usefulness in real-estate marketing, construction, and such.

Just what Firefox needs... More bloat ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31358918)

Just what Firefox needs... More bloat !

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