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Three 3D Web Browsers Reviewed

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the just-don't-turn-down-the-wrong-alley dept.

237

mikemuch writes "Use that graphics card for something besides games. ExtremeTech has a group review of three browsers that use some aspect of 3D to display the Web. While none of them are going to put Firefox or IE out of business any time soon, they're fun to play with and give a new slant to the Web." From the article: "Whatever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the Web? Back in the late '90s, all the hype was about VRML -- Virtual Reality Markup Language -- which would turn the web into an immersive environment that you'd maneuver around to get to the information you wanted. We're here to tell you that the reports of the 3D Web's death are greatly exaggerated."

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Not dead (5, Funny)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506240)

But still completely useless and unneeded

Re:Not dead (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506282)

Agreed. The ones that angle, shrink, or otherwise distort the windows are the worst. What does it mean that a window is at an angle? Does that somehow help me? How is it more useful than a window being "behind" another window or "minimized"?

About the only use I can see is for maps. So, for instance, you have a handheld device that could sense your position, and draw you an arrow in a 3D environment that looks identical to your physical environment, this would make map reading extremely easy. This would be especially use full (far in the future) when we're wearing glasses or contacts with augmented reality, and the arrows can simply be drawn over the existing physical location.

I could see other uses given new interfaces, but a keyboard and mouse don't seem to be useful for 3D window management. If you could take your hands (somehow) and grab onto these windows like you would a piece of paper, then I could see it being useful. That's quite a ways off, though.

Re:Not dead (1)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506313)

The screenshots remind me of aqua teen hunger force.

Re:Not dead (2, Interesting)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506512)

Actually its not that far off. The Nintendo Wii controller would be perfect for this sort of web browser.

Re:Not dead (1)

wakaru (981372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506291)

I agree. totally useless, bulky, and unneeded.

Re:Not dead (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506390)

totally useless, bulky, and unneeded

lol like ur mom!

Re:Not dead (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506296)

No way, dude. Boobs've gotta be WAY better in 3D.

Re:Not dead (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506814)

Boobs've gotta be WAY better in 3D.

Throw in Feel-A-Round and I think you've got a killer ap.

KFG

Re:Not dead (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506361)

It is very much not dead. Look at any MMORPG or FPS. It's the internet and people are networked through a 3D world are they not? But outside of games getting information would actually be more difficult in a 3D world. The information you want is all 2D anyway, text, images, video, ect. It would cause lag, waste system resources and cause many other problems. For gaming, 3D worlds are very important and add to the realism and strategy involved. For gathering or sharing information a 2D world simply works better! Adding another dimension doesn't mean it's better. Thats like saying adding more salt to a recipe will make it taste better. Sounds good in theory until the final result is so salty you will want to throw up.

*Notice I avoided (yet another) car reference*

Re:Not dead (1)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506506)

Well, Apple have some 3d displays of various products at their website in QTVR format. (Like this Mac mini. [apple.com] ) 3d is a good way to present information about what a real-world item/location looks like. Google Earth is also about that, I suppose. But that "walking around on the web" thing, most commonly found in grand dreams before the dot-com crash and in various bad hacker movies, doesn't work at all.

Correction! (2, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506436)

We're here to tell you that the reports of the 3D Web are greatly exaggerated.

Re:Not dead (5, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506494)

It may be useless in its current incarnation, but that doesn't mean someone won't come up with a good way to use it as the technology matures.

The main problem is that people have this nifty tool, but they keep applying it to bolt it onto an existing interface instead of really trying to create a new one. (And when they do try to create a new one, the drawbacks outweigh the advantages. I swear, these "airport/city" metaphors and the like remind me of nothing so much as Microsoft Bob.) It's like using advanced 3D graphics to render a console app -- in a hard-to-read font.

Someone needs to figure out what a 3D display brings to the table, and build on that. Texture-mapping the 2D web onto the walls doesn't accomplish much.

Useless and unneeded... (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506553)

>But still completely useless and unneeded

I recall that being the MS-DOS/PC response to all of those other systems that could display more than four colors.

Re:Not dead (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506579)

I would agree, however VRML is nice in the engineering world where you want to export a solid model of something for a customer to view. They get a model they can rotate and look at which is nice, and it fits right in their web browser. One problem when we tried to implement this years ago was VRML support sucked with a capital K. Maybe it's coming around now, but it will be a day-late-and-a-dollar-short. A good portion of the CAD/CAM/CAE packages out their have implemented their own proprietary export format to share your model with the world. All the world needs to do is download the proprietary format viewer. Second thought, you're right. VRML probably is useless now.

Re:Not dead (1)

monopole (44023) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506643)

The problem is that VRML was based on a weird scenegraph approach with known limitations. I've got a consultant who sends me intricate VRML files witch will not convert and will not display in half the browsers available.

Obligatory Movie reference (3, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506243)

Hack the Gibson!! [nyud.net]

Not the first time... (3, Informative)

daybot (911557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506253)

...that 3D graphics have been used to display web data. Back in the early 90s, CompuServe had a virtual mall which was a bit like that. It was painfully slow; a real gimmick. I can't see any benefit beyond the gimmick for then, and now.

Re:Not the first time... (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506279)

> I can't see any benefit beyond the gimmick for then, and now.

This missed opportunity to employ 3D web browsing technology has been brought to you by...
Breasts!

Re:Not the first time... (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506305)

It was painfully slow; a real gimmick. I can't see any benefit beyond the gimmick for then, and now.

These are probably, like many sites these days, counting on you having DSL, because any thing less to access these sites is going to crawl. One reason I despise Flash splash-pages is my dial-up access. It's so enjoyable twiddling your thumbs or playing a quick game of Minesweeper while waiting for crap to download which doesn't tell you anything Text couldn't.

Then like now, the difference between gimmick and junk is how you use it.

Re:Not the first time... (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506335)

I'd have to agry with you, it does seem "gimmicky". I am curious about studies in human computer interaction a 3d interfaces. 3d allows for more realistic interface metaphors, but can significantly complicate an interface, plus we don't have any 3d hardware. A mouse moves in 2 dimimensions (x and y coordinates only, no z or orientation information). Something like the polehemus fastrak [polhemus.com] would give six degrees of freedom and would allow you to interact with a 3d environment. I first saw the fastrak in a paper about a virtual bodhran [wikipedia.org] . The paper on the "vodhran" is avail here [ece.ubc.ca] .

Re:Not the first time... (1)

evdubs (708273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506380)

this is why it's good that a mouse is not the only common input device. companies willing to invest in this technology can use two keys on the keyboard to express depth, instead of waiting for your device which may handle this problem more elegantly. also, you could take the common WASD FPS layout since millions of people seem to be fluent with that.

Re:Not the first time... (2, Insightful)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506542)

A mouse moves in 2 dimimensions (x and y coordinates only, no z or orientation information)
Actually, a wheelmouse can be used for rudimentary 3D navigation (usually, the wheel moves you forwards or backwards in whatever direction you are currently pointing, while mouse movement changes the orientation).

Re:Not the first time... (1)

diskis (221264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506702)

The Nintento Wii has a 3D controller. Designed for games, I don't know how enjoyable it would be to actually work with one of those.

And what actually does one do with a 3D interface? Only thing I can think of is 3D graphics. Perhaps CAD. Pretty rare stuff. I don't think Microsoft Excel Vista 2009 3D-edition would be of any use. Only really confusing.

Re:Not the first time... (2, Funny)

Takumi2501 (728347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506815)

I don't think Microsoft Excel Vista 2009 3D-edition would be of any use. Only really confusing.
And can you imagine the printouts?

Re:Not the first time... (1)

TA_TA_BOX (892664) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506463)

Those screenshots sure remind me a lot of the Windows 3D Maze screensaver.

I always tried to find my way out but never could, I always ended up at this bluescreen. :-\

Re:Not the first time... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506537)

Yes, but if it works we can all put on VR headsets and wave our hands around in the air like Keanu Reeves in Johnny Mnemonic.

Club Caribe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506620)

Yeah, the Q-Link had something like that. It was allright.

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506262)

There's thing called 'hype'. And many things are not all they are 'hyped' up to me. Many, many things.

Re:Hmmm... (3, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506384)

And many things are not all they are 'hyped' up to me.

Like grammar, for example. :P

Re:Hmmm... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506509)

Made perfect sense to me.

Smells Like Hype (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506265)


My first thought was VRML and what a clunky thing that was before it all but vanished. I've still got books and CD's for doing stuff in it, in a box somewhere, probably in the car-port.

Not really what I had in mind when I thought about what would make for decent 3D browsing. This looks like something you could knock off in a plug-in, like Flash. Probably has some decent uses, like creating a game on your own website or a Realtor giving you a VR tour of a house (which i think someone nearby already has.) Handy for exploring a Mall, to see where a shop is rather than looking at those little hand-bills which are sometimes so artsy-fartsy you just try to go in the general direction and hope you find it. Hope people keep these sites updated. More content==more overhead for maintenance.

Car-port??? It is called car hole! (0, Offtopic)

Life700MB (930032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506413)


Moe: The "garage"? Hey fellas, the "garage"! Well, ooh la di da, Mr. French Man.
Homer: Well what do _you_ call it?
Moe: A car hole!


--
Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, unlimited cpu, $7.95

Avalon (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506267)

For once an article that has understood that the interesting changes with Vista is under the hood and will show up with applications using it, like windows presentation foundation.

ok, you can unleash the hordes now..

Re:Avalon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506828)

What hordes? I don't see any torches or pitchforks. Oh, right! That's "mobs", huh? "Hordes" I gather must mean either Mongols or Mex'kins, neither of which seem to be laying siege to your post as of yet. It's not surprising, though.

  You see, Billy, we here at /. understand that the big changes in Vista are all under the hood. It's called DRM, an' we're agin' it!

Second Life (4, Interesting)

Unoti (731964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506281)

Second Life is a sort of 3D web browser. To me, Second Life is everything I envisioned and more when I first heard about VRML.

Re:Second Life (3, Interesting)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506356)

I've only tried Second Life for a few hours, but I agree with you there. Unfortunately, it's still very difficult to navigate and otherwise interact with -- at least compared to the web as we know it today. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a fully 3D web, but I'm not willing to sacrifice functionality to get it.

It's not the size, but what you do with it. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506449)

"Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a fully 3D web, but I'm not willing to sacrifice functionality to get it."

And yet people interact with full functionality every time they play a multiplayer (FPS,RTS,etc) game. The main difference between the web and games is the size of the world.

Re:It's not the size, but what you do with it. (2, Insightful)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506539)

It's also the user-created content. A FPS is designed by professionals who, at least in theory, have the same goals in mind, and easy, consistent navigation is usually one of those goals. Second Life is an example of something that has been slapped together by a wide variety of people, all of whom have different goals and inspirations. In a 3D web, we would certainly have professionally made web environments, but to get to them we may have to stumble through the three dimensional equivalent of a 13-year-old's Geocities tribute to Frodo/Sephiroth slash fiction.

Re:It's not the size, but what you do with it. (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506693)

The main difference between the web and games is the size of the world.

Actually, I'd say the main difference between the web and games is the type of interaction.

Most of the web is like a simulated library. It's generally about obtaining, providing, or exchanging information, whether it's reading an encyclopedia article, sending an order to a store, or watching your friend's latest video post on MySpace.

Games are generally about simulating a type of activity -- sports, combat, puzzle-solving, etc.

You can graft one type of interactivity onto the other interface -- people have jammed IM/chat capabilities into web pages, despite there being apps better suited for it, and you can certainly use the web as a delivery platform for games of all types. And you can use web-like capabilities in games (putting a dynamic message board in a tavern, for instance). But a 3-D interface doesn't add much to reading a piece of text with a photo attached. (I've often played games where the quest log, or a spell book, or some sort of in-game text is put into a rendered representation of a book, complete with pages that you have to turn one at a time, when it would actually be easier to use if it were one column with a scroll bar.) And a 2-D page isn't much good for slaying dragons or shooting Nazis unless you go the interactive fiction route.

Re:Second Life (2, Funny)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506371)

Second Life is a sort of 3D web browser.

So is first life.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:Second Life (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506633)

The problem with Second Life is it aint gonna work with current hardware - anything less than a dual core 64bit and you might as well not bother because your framerate will suck.

I suspect it's just poor implementation - the 3d in something like WoW or FFXI is *far* more immersive than second life because it renders at full frame rate and has lots of detail (and there's more to do - nothing much to do in second life but walk/fly around and chat to people). The engine looks like something done 5-6 years ago, yet still runs like a dog.

I heard about it after someone I know said it was the wave of the future... got there and it's just a place for 14 year olds to hang out and chat about their boyfriends. They can do that in 1st life too.. and myspace does it far better on the web.

You know what happened to VRML? (1)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506314)

Second Life, that's what. It's everything we wanted from VRML/Cosmo.

(Ok, maybe its not ubiquitous, and its a proprietary app, but still....)

well... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506315)

reports of the 3D Web's death are greatly exaggerated.

Maybe not GREATLY...

With apologies to the late, great Frank Zappa: "The 3D Web is not Dead...It just smells funny!

Fuck a f0ck3r (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506320)

for the s7ate 0f

Some things are better in 3D, some not (2, Insightful)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506339)

We need a decent ubiquitous 3D plugin for things like showing off stuff you can buy in 3D.

We don't need a browser to show us a 3D representation of the web, because that is too much information. Hyperbolic mappings are not somehow more intuitive than simple lists. In fact, they are less so.

When we get common 3D displays and controllers, then my position will change.

Re:Some things are better in 3D, some not (1)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506483)

We need a decent ubiquitous 3D plugin for things like showing off stuff you can buy in 3D.

Java3D works nicely... http://java.sun.com/products/java-media/3D/ [sun.com]

Re:Some things are better in 3D, some not (2, Informative)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506503)

That's a goddamn lie and you know it. Java3D does not, in fact, 'work nicely'. Have they fixed the "J3D objects are not GC-able" bug yet? My guess is 'no' because the day they ported it to OSX was the day they stopped working on it.

Re:Some things are better in 3D, some not (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506511)

but, you know, I'm not bitter or anything. ;)

Lacks an application (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506349)

I can see the need for "visualisation". See, the step from command line to graphical interface surely did some good for people who can't be bothered to learn the commands. While this caused the influx of dimwits to the web, it certainly was something that faciliated the approach by heaps. The information can be presented in a way that is easier to understand.

Now, 3D graphics on a 2D display is the opposite. Instead of presenting information in an easier understandable way, it obscures it. Basically, what we lack now is suitable interfaces. Input as well as output. The mouse is not the best way to navigate in a three dimensional world, neither is a non-stereo view the best display for it.

My guess would be the new interface for Vista will face a similar fate.

3D (2, Interesting)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506355)

Whatever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the Web?

As long as the screen on my computer is 2D I don't think the 3D web will really take off. Now, if you can get me some cheap VR glasses and gloves, that's another matter.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506543)

As long as the screen on my computer is 2D I don't think the 3D web will really take off.

As long as the screen on my computer is 2D, I don't think that 3D games will really take off.

3D FPS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506679)

"As long as the screen on my computer is 2D I don't think the 3D web will really take off. Now, if you can get me some cheap VR glasses and gloves, that's another matter."

And yet you play a 3D FPS using only a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

the best 3d web thingy ever (5, Interesting)

graveyhead (210996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506357)

The best 3d web thing I've ever seen is Apple's dashboard widgets in OSX. Each widget can have a (nicely standardized) button which activates the preferences for the widget. The prefrences are on the back of the widget. Literally when you click the prefs button the widget flips over in 3d animation and you interact with the preference panel.

I find this incredible because a) it's an amazing practical use of 3d and b) it's not at all flashy or trying to create a 'new 3d browsing paradigm' or some such silliness. Instead, Apple has used the graphics tools available to them and once again, made a fantastic advance in user interfaces.

Before you call me an Apple fanboy, you should know that I don't even own a Mac, I just think they're neat is all.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (2, Insightful)

amazon10x (737466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506507)

it's not at all flashy
What? What you just described was completely flashy and serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever.

it's not [...] trying to create a 'new 3d browsing paradigm' or some such silliness
So rather than making something more fuctional or doing something in a new, better way, you would instead just make things look like they are being done in a better way.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

graveyhead (210996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506570)

What? What you just described was completely flashy and serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever.
Nonono it's not about the asthetic value (although it does look nice). What I mean is simply that flipping a card-like thing over is a concept that anyone can understand. Start talking about preference panels and property sheets and you'll make some peoples eyes cross. Flipping something over is a pretty universally understood concept. That's what makes a great user interface - intuitiveness.

It is highly functional. It serves a purpose beyond the ones you thought to put into your application. The function of it is to make users somewhat familiar with how your application works, before they've even installed or looked at it. That seems highly functional to me.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506784)

It is highly functional.

And highly 2D.

KFG

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506635)

What? What you just described was completely flashy and serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever.

it ... uh, it's function is to display the property sheet for a widget. The property sheet's gotta be somewhere on the screen, on the 'back' of the window you're setting the properties for seems about as good a place as any other.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506710)

He probably meant something closer to "not disruptive".
Making computing feel "smoother" is actually a big win, though obviously it shouldn't impede actual function.
Furthermore, yes, studies show that people can be more satisfied merely by "making things look like they are being done in a better way."
Classic example: waiting times. People get less annoyed if they get visual feedback in the form of a little progress bar, or resident evil-style transitions. Studies have shown that having clocks by bus stops makes the waiting time feel shorter, even if the service remains the same.

Now, those web-browser thingies in TFA, those were flashy *and* disruptive. If you separated out the useful bits, I guess you'd have a primitive version of Exposé.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (0)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506546)

The prefrences are on the back of the widget.

This is the worst part of Dashboard! There's no standardized widget options interface, and, worse yet, the widgets are constrained to a tiny space for preferences. What is wrong with popping up a standard-size configuration dialog like everything else in the OS?

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

yohan1701 (779792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506609)

the widgets are constrained to a tiny space for preferences
No their not. Widgets are just HTML pages. The front is one div the back is another and they don't need to be the same size.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

CanSpice (300894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506689)

That's not 3D, that's just the back side of a 2D object.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506706)

Sort of. It uses 3D effects to make a traditional 2D interface better. Which is (one reason) why it's nice.

Re:the best 3d web thingy ever (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506716)

I doown a mac, and have been using it for two years, and never realized this was new. Now that you mention it, it is briliant.

Sigh (4, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506388)

It is understandable that if your only tool is a hammer, every problem will look like a nail. However, when every problem is a nail, why the hell would you look for a screwdriver?

Wii? (2, Interesting)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506394)

When I first heard about a web browser being put onto the Wii, it occurred to me that this would be an excellent opportunity to add some 3D capabilities to the web. The Wii has a pointer that can simulate a mouse, but the analog controller might actually make moving around a 3D environment to find information easier than surfing in any conventional fashion. I don't know about you guys, but I think it would be fun to fly around in a 3D information-laden room with the nunchuku firmly in hand, grabbing at relevent pieces with the wiimote.

Re:Wii? (1)

porneL (674499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506555)

Opera (which is Wii's wee browser) has support for 3d canvas [opera.com] in internal builds.

Thanks but no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506416)

none of them are going to put Firefox or IE out of business any time soon

Not on my workstation anyway.

Two of them require M$ and one of them requires money.

Wake me up when we hit 2001.

Terrifying Vision (2, Funny)

Kesch (943326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506422)

I just had a horrible nightmare about flash ads going 3d....

The extreme annoying-ness is too much for my feeble brain to handle.

Imagine the most hyperactive ADD person you know.

Now imagine them when they go into hyperactive mode that happens right before they need a nap.

Now give them lots and lots of soda and candy.

Now give them some crystal meth.

This is half the annoying-ness of a 3d flash ad.

Already tried (2, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506432)

Microsoft already tried placing small items/thumbnails in a "3D" environment. It was called Microsoft Bob [toastytech.com] and it failed completely.

3D can be useful (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506464)

All these browsers attempt to show you a lot of pages in one go. Assuming you're after sites that deal with fashion, or games, or cookery, or music etc. in broad categories then there is a usefulness to be able to see a bunch of sites in one go. I know it would be useful to just wander through a hall of today's articles and simply click on a site that has something that interests you. The problem as the article highlights is that showing a bunch of sites simultaneously should not be at the expense of your regular browsing experience. Therefore I'd say that if you could flip between regular browsing and 3D browsing, perhaps even based on what you're looking for, then you could reap the best of both worlds. I've played with 3B and it seems to work (extra points for using Firefox), but the experience is somewhat reminiscent of Wolfenstein 3D in that it's 3D in the same way that a hedge maze is 3D with no up, down, platforms or other points of interest. I'd like to see a more interesting world that is genuinely 3D rather than a hedge maze and perhaps one where there is a little more interaction than my solitary self wandering around aimlessly with not direction or interaction with fellow browsers.

What happened to 3D (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506467)

Whatever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the Web?

It required proprietary plugins that could just display crude 3D objects and pretty much nothing else. People abused 3D in the VRML days just like noobs abuse Java applets to make lake applets. Hence it died.

Proprietary plugins like flash still thrive since among the crap (like annoying flash intros and ads) they offer plenty of useful applications not-outside-this-world, easy to implement, and the plugin is tiny, multiplatform.

VRML never had a dominant plugin and each interpreted the details of VRML in the different manner. A big no-no.

No 3D browsers before flying cars, dammit! (4, Funny)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506468)

The flying car was promised loooooong before the 3D web browser.

It's time that we draw a line in the sand: no further development on the 3D browser until a commercially viable flying car hits the market.

Re:No 3D browsers before flying cars, dammit! (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506721)

But... but... if it hits the market, it's crashed and is no longer flying. Surely you want a car that DOESN'T hit the market?

Re:No 3D browsers before flying cars, dammit! (0)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506778)

Oh, hell! No one cares when some geezer drives a non-flying car through a market. It's no big deal. Society will adjust.

3D lives on... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506479)

...with QuickTime VR. [apple.com] Well, not the same thing, but at least this one is not a total flop like VRML. Maybe because it makes more sense to view websites in 2D and real life locations in (pseudo-)3D .

is slashdot broken? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506495)

i have been having problems reading slashdot as of late. it seems it has been hacked or something and the hacker uploaded a new website design that makes it very unusable. i talked to cmdrtaco and he said that they are working to fix the problem. whoever hacked slashdot really messed it up bad and made it change colors all the time when you click on links. i can't wait till slashdot is fixed

Re:is slashdot broken? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506572)

Install Stylish, [mozilla.org] then go here, [userstyles.org] here, [userstyles.org] or here. [userstyles.org]

I don't know about anyone else... (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506533)

but my surfing habits include getting somewhere fast. If I have to walk around to where I want to go...I'll walk down the street to get there. Point, click, type. No frills surfing is 'nuff for me.

Yawn. WIRED had this in 1997 or so. (1)

ccmay (116316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506540)

Useless and confusing then, useless and confusing now.

futurama.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506544)

OMG! IT'S FULL OF ADS!

lacking (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506592)

See now, an interpreter of some sort that would take the normal internet and display it in a three dimensional way. A navigation metaphor of some sort.

But as these are, they are no better than a poor imitation of Second Life. They have focused on a such a narrow vision that by looking completely beyond them, other software such as Second Life has already moved far beyond.

But, like I originally said, I would love to play around with something that displayed the normal internet in a 3D metaphor.

Browse3D's 'patented three wall technology' (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506605)

They were able to patent that? That's crazytalk.

How can you patent using a partial cube to display the contents of web pages? Exactly how does that bring something innovative to the table?

It's no more then a slight variation on the standard diplay method. I've used several apps that provide thumbnail previews of websites, and I used a '3d' desktop switcher in linux ages ago. It's a nothing advance, just eyecandy produced to make money, a different way to do the same old thing.

If we had a way to interact properly in 3d with a computer, then perhaps, just perhaps '3d browsing' might really happen, these are just visual toys that do nothing to advance the evolution of the Human Computer Interface.

Re: Browse3D's 'patented three wall technology' (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506676)

3d browsing will probably never happen because there's no need for it. We get all our information 2d.. 2d newspapers, 2d books.. why bother with 3d?

*All* the efforts I've seen to create it have sucked - from VRML to 'Second Life' - suck donkey because they miss the point - and that's to get information as fast as possible. It aint going to get any faster than typing search terms into google (in fact with all of these environments it's nearly impossible to find what you need).

Alone (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506613)

Am I the only person on /. that's seen The Lawnmower Man (1992) ?
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104692/ [imdb.com]

Re:Alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15506691)

I haven't seen it. Is it any good?

Useless (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506638)

This makes the http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/04/ 1211220 [slashdot.org] 5d/4d rubik's cube seem useful for day to day life.

All these do right now, is look like a weird marriage of 3d FPS and webbrowser screenshots used to texture billboards. So pretty. But that's about it. Navigation can be done much more efficiently with a 2d plug-in for firefox that would concentrate on such a thing.

I can imagine a 3D web. But it probably be more useful to have one when 3d holographic displays are the norm and I can reach in and manipulate objects.

What a PITA (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506641)

I can see a need for 3D on the web, VRML and QTVR objects giving you walk-throughs and views of real world products for example, but is there actually a need for a 3D Web?

If I'm looking for something on the web then I usually want to find it quickly. How does this help me find what I need? It seems to be an obstructive use of 3D technology, all because someone said "3D's cool, let's make a 3D web browser."

Looking for something? Use Google. Want 3D? Play WoW, Quake, Doom, NFS, etc.

3D + Internet, not 3D + Web (3, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506644)

3D is useful (even with 2D screens) for all kinds of data, and conventional interfaces are adequate, if not ideal, for working with it (otherwise, we wouldn't have 3D games). But 3D's internet utility, I think, is going to materialize in forms that are very much not like what we think of as "web browsers", though there may be some overlap (of course, "Web" applications are becoming increasingly ill-suited to the traditional web browser model as well, leading browsers to increasingly become fairly generic application platforms) -- I think that things like OpenCroquet are more like where internet 3D will bloom than 3D adaptations or plugins for traditional web-browsers.

No visitor would wait to "Navigate" around shit (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506650)

Like "turning right from the 3D Browse button, then moving towards the Door-like Enter button, and levitating over the sinuzoidally-flowing search results" ...

Too much waste of precious time.

Best is the way we have it now ; click, click and voila.

Re:No visitor would wait to "Navigate" around shit (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506768)

Too much waste of precious time, learn your hot keys.

I could see some uses... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506656)

....granted, eye candy-ish, but maybe fun none the less, here's a few:

Imagine you have a ton of ebooks stored. Instead of a flat representation of folders and sub folders for labelling and navigation, you could walk around various rooms in your mansion until you got to the reading den, walls covered with bookshelves. As you zoom in you can see the titles on the binders, and you can "reach in" and select one and open it and start reading. Maybe you want to monitor the news and weather or listen to the game while you are reading, go over to the "TV" and select a channel, that screen now is displaying a real channel. The mouse moves your hand(s) of course. Same with music, choose from your "record collection", drag and plop it on a cyber turn table and it starts playing. Ditto movies. Say you want to chat with your friend, you could jump in your Flying car(finally!) and fly over to his house quickly and knock on the door, he opens it and you are now chatting. If you don't want a face to face, just "pick up the phone" and dial, just do audio then.

And stuff like that there, just take the idea of GUI into real life (RLUI- real life user interface) and do the stuff you normally would on the machine but with real world examples. Surfing the web? You are back in your flying car visting places (websites), or maybe you like flying by jet or taking a train nice and easy-whatever you want! A sailboat! It won't matter, because you choose what YOU like to have represented in the manner you want to accomplish the computer tasks. Going to your bank? Go there and the real teller you normally go to is there waiting to serve you, all 3-d looking like they really do look.. Transforming normal tasks into the real world similar examples would be sorta fun!

Re:I could see some uses... (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506761)

you could walk around various rooms in your mansion until you got to the reading den, walls covered with bookshelves. s you zoom in you can see the titles on the binders, and you can "reach in" and select one and open it and start reading.

Better idea: I click on the E-Book Library icon, which opens up a Spotlight-style search box. I start typing in the title or author of the book I want, it starts returning matching results, and after I've typed three letters it's narrowed down far enough that I can click on The Right Tool for the Right Job, by Com & Sense. Rather than spending 1 minute walking through the virtual mansion to get to the library, then another 2 minutes looking through all the bookshelves, trying to remember where I left it, I've found it in about 15 seconds.

slow = (dimensions * complexity);p (1, Insightful)

dcapel (913969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506673)

Adding a dimension to an task on a computer does nothing but slow it down in most cases. Yes, it make lower the learning curve, or be more prettyful, but slow it down it does.

Lets take for example the task of taking all .mp3 files and changing them to .ogg files.

In one dimension (command line), we have a simple python script:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import os
list = os.listdir('.')
for item in list:
                os.system('mp32ogg "' + item)

Nice and easy, and scales linearly with x number of file.

Now lets add another dimension: a GUI.

Now we go into our graphical program to convert it, and open a file manager, and select something, and then encode it. Now it is easily 2x time.

Now lets add a third dimension: We open a program to do it, open a file manager, and then walk around and chase the buggers down.
5x time at least.

And we got the ooh factor, but only at the cost of 5 times the time (and it is interactive time too!) Psh, I'll stick with my CLI.

so many questions. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506756)

just because you have a lousy implimentation of a GUI, and a horible software, doesn't make a GUI slower. That only says you are using a horrible tool.

There is no reasn why someone couldn't write an encoding app the looked for an extension, and then reencoded into a diffrent format.

It takes one click for me to open a browser, how many keystrokes does it take you?

Why are you too lazy to learn the hot keys in your GUI?

We've had sculpture for a long, long time... (2, Insightful)

Other Than That... (824148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506680)

...and yet people still buy paitings.

data visualization (1)

alphafoo (319930) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506748)

The whole idea of browsing web pages in some sort of 3D reminds me of demos of this I saw at Netscape back in 1996. Pages flying in from nowhere when you'd click on a link, and so on. I imagine people want that now just as much as they wanted it back then-- not a whole lot.

But 3D on the web is not completely pointless as some would suggest. I have been poking around X3D and VRML lately because I am trying to figure out, in this post VRML world, what is the easiest way to show off some 3D scatter plot data via a web page in a way that allows the user to navigate around in it (rotate, pan, etc), and see some textual details on each data point when you got within range (brushing, level-of-detail, picking, billboard text). Initially, I figured this would be a no brainer because I'd done similar things in 1996, but it seems like one area of the web where time has stood still, or has even been rolled back. VRML97 is still around, but there are still all kinds of plugin incompatibilities, varying levels of support of the standards, generally clunkyness, and licensing issues.

Is there a much better way to do this sort of thing that I am missing?

Great now this is web 3.0 (1)

bxbaser (252102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506786)

Whole new bunch of hype

Best 3D Browser? Google Earth! (1)

Whatsmynickname (557867) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506825)

Yes, that's right! I look at Google Earth as a geospatial browser, where I can click on KML links to web pages based on location, and now get dynamic web based geospatial content based on KML servers [for example: this [diyhappy.com] ]!

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