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Firefox Graphics News Technology

3D Graphics For Firefox, Webkit 198

Posted by kdawson
from the vrml-redux dept.
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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3D Graphics For Firefox, Webkit

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  • Clarification (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @10:41AM (#31357798) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BRock97 (17460)

      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.

      • 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.

      • by Xelios (822510)
        The implementation shown at CeBIT is not based on WebGL, it uses RTFact which was developed in house at the University of Saarland. However the WebGL implementation is in development right now, and will be released later on to make the XML3D format more compatible with mainstream browsers (those without RTFact built in).
    • Re:Clarification (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BhaKi (1316335) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @10:48AM (#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.

      • 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.

        • 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

          • 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 i

          • 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).

            • by tepples (727027)

              All commercial FPS need some kind of server, even if it's one of the players' PC (as in LAN games).

              I'm not aware of anything in the Web Socket API that allows an end user to open a web socket for incoming connections. The server has to be a separately installed application, and if you're requiring the end user to install that, you might as well have a separate app for the game too.

              • But that's only required if you want to play LAN games (thus needing to run your own server). You don't need to accept incoming connections if you're playing online using the devs' server, which is how these games are going to be distributed anyway.

                And even "standalone" games are starting to require internet connections even to play in LAN (see Starcraft 2).

        • 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].

          • 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. (Randomizi

  • oh great. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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

    • Two word (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Porn ography.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

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

    • 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 ma
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Steve Max (1235710)

        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.

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          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.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      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.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Why would you want to play a 3d game in your browser when you could run a native app instead? Why should we use the web for anything other than hypertext, when a native app will always work better? All this is doing is turning your web browser into an OS, but you've already got an OS. More layers of abstraction means more bloat and more bugs. No thanks.

        • Because I don’t want to run a .exe that I downloaded off the web from some site that I don’t trust.

          I trust my browser to put a layer of abstraction between the code and my computer that will prevent it from doing anything malicious. This is not always completely safe, but it’s safer than running the .exe.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

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

    • by berashith (222128)

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

      porn

  • No love for VRML (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @10:43AM (#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.

    • by bbbaldie (935205) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @10:56AM (#31357934) Homepage
      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!
    • by dingen (958134) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:00AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Joce640k (829181)

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

      • by vadim_t (324782) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:35AM (#31358316) Homepage

        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.

        • Eheh (Score:3, Interesting)

          50k? Oh wow. For a "site" that is available around the world, that is pathetic. A dutch only site already does 10k easily. So 50k for the entire world is nothing.

          And how many of the people logged in are bots?

      • Google Earth in your browser
      • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot.pitabred@dyndns@org> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @12:13PM (#31358738) Homepage

        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.

      • as the tool chains improve and more stuff becomes stable the uses of SL will become more and more common

        Linden Labs just released a public beta of the new SL 2.0 and i has a "Shared Media" feature that very much blurs the lines between Real Life and SecondLife.

        You want to show a presentation inworld?? rez up a screen and go for it

        (note for SL residents before you login using 2.0 grab the tweaks and have them applied)

    • by davechen (247143)

      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.

    • by Junta (36770)

      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      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.

    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      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?"

  • Short answer (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sshock (975534)
    Do I really want my CPU to overload while navigating the web?
    • RT Fact is a GPU ray tracer, I think.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxwell demon (590494)

        Expect to see amazing new exploits using the GPU.

        • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • Tech for the future (Score:2, Informative)

    by muyla (1429487)

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

    • Is that you, Master Shake?
    • by bcmm (768152)

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

      Just imagine the Goatse...

  • by quadelirus (694946) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:10AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rockoon (1252108)
      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 e
      • I understand that ray tracers are better than rasterizers in terms of simply modeling real light transport, but I don't think that realtime ray tracers even come close (I could be very wrong, and if so I'd like paper refs because I'm studying this area at the moment). Some error in the rasterizer is ok as long as it looks good, it doesn't have to be physically plausible. As soon as you start adding ray traced inter-reflection, refraction, global illumination and such you are well outside the realm of a real
  • 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 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.

    • Oh, I’m sure.

      Actually you can already disable it, and they haven’t even finished developing it yet: ##canvas

      (It’s an Adblock Plus filter, in case you didn’t figure that out.)

  • Shockwave already has full 3D capabilities. Here's s reasonably good 3D scene, a haunted house. [3drt.com] Shockwave in current use; both Disney and Dreamworks have 3D promotional games for upcoming movies, and Porsche has a car configurator. It's possible to do a reasonably decent game in Shockwave. Unfortunately, Shockwave seems to be associated with crap sites full of ad-heavy low-end games that keep trying to download additional plugins.

    A big downside of Shockwave is that, unlike Flash, the whole file has to

    • It’s a plugin.

      It’s associated with crap sites full of ad-heavy low-end games that keep trying to download additional plugins.

      The whole file has to load before it starts.

      You spent a significant portion of your post explaining and excusing the very flaws that make Shockwave an undesirable solution.

      A big downside of Shockwave is that, unlike Flash, the whole file has to load before it starts. It lacks instant gratification. Did the XML 3D crowd deal with that issue?

      It could be done in the same way that web applications are currently handling the issue.

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