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Why Hasn't 3D Taken Off For the Web? 320

First time accepted submitter clockwise_music writes "With HTML5 we're closer to the point where a browser can do almost everything that a native app can do. The final frontier is 3D, but WebGL isn't even part of the HTML5 standard, Microsoft refuses to support it, Apple wants to push their native apps and it's not supported in the Android mobile browser. Flash used to be an option but Adobe have dropped mobile support. To reach most people you'd have to learn Javascript, WebGL and Three.js/Scene.js for Chrome/Firefox, then you'd have to learn Actionscript + Flash for the Microsofties, then learn Objective-C for the apple fanboys, then learn Java to write a native app for Android. When will 3D finally become available for all? Do you think it's inevitable or will it never see the light of day?"
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Why Hasn't 3D Taken Off For the Web?

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  • by hessian ( 467078 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:09AM (#42934339) Homepage Journal

    I suffered through the VRML list back in the day when people first wanted to make 3D cyberspace.

    There's a conflict: you either model 3D functional worlds, or the underlying structure, or you create a language which can draw things in 3D.

    The problem with the latter is that it's not stand alone, but requires people to come up with an intersection of code, resources and aesthetics.

    What people actually need is the former, which is the ability to create functional 3D models and describe them in a language like HTML, and have the browser itself create an interactive world from that.

    • by DKlineburg ( 1074921 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:13AM (#42934375)
      I guess you might be stating my opinion; but my thought is why? What is the 3d web going to give me that 2d doesn't?
      • by ButchDeLoria ( 2772751 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:17AM (#42934401)
        A replacement for Unity.
        • Cinnamon is really good and illustrates the difference between Ubuntu and Mint: Ubuntu gives you what Ubuntu thinks you want, Mint gives you what you ask for. (Mate is pretty good as well)
      • by leuk_he ( 194174 )

        There is a simple answer: Everything 3d you do now 3d on the desktop:
        -Gaming. That is gaming without download a game client, natively in the browser.
        -Fancy moving windows/text boxes arround. Like unity. Not because is is required to do your work, but it looks nice.
        -Everything that now needs some kind of download.

        Webgl seems the ony option. Maybe a simpler version might be required that can be implemented safely. But even then it is far away from using at every platform.

      • 3D can be very handy in architecture, or sculpting, or engineering

        However, current crop of browsers just ain't there yet, for the power of 3D to shine

        • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @12:07PM (#42935955)

          The demand will continue to be weak, though, perhaps forever, and for good reasons.

          3D is compelling in entertainment, but the amount of 3D entertainment media/downloads is but a tiny fraction of 2D because demand is small.

          Yes, it's compelling for modeling, be it architectural, artistic, design, engineering, medical holography, and so forth. But from the beginning of recorded history, we've successfully distributed and used 2D. That's because the added information in the 3rd dimension is useful, but in a movie or a picture, I don't need to see what's behind the tree. I don't care. There is reason in some cases, and we've evolved those cases, to give dimensionality as needed information. Otherwise, it's unnecessary and comes at an extra cost of codifying it, and storing it.

          3D is cool, no doubt about it. Immersive stuff is great. You're not going to find it on a box of CornFlakes, or as content in a James Patterson novel, or an Annie Leibovitz photo of Beiber.

      • by thomasw_lrd ( 1203850 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:29AM (#42934503)

        Better porn.

        Which is of course the answer to any question about when will the web have X? When the porn industry wants to make more money.

        • Which is of course the answer to any question about when will the web have X? When the porn industry wants to make more money.

          Nonsense. Just for one thing, the porn industry is struggling desperately, so they must by necessity be looking for more money.

          The reason the internet exists, and the reason it is successful now, is that it makes it easy to exchange information; whether it is mindless tripe or useful is another matter, of course. Information is either written - which is 1 dimensional - or visual, which is 2 dimensional because that is what our eyes are made for. 3 dimensional vision is only an illusion, something of an afte

      • I guess you might be stating my opinion; but my thought is why? What is the 3d web going to give me that 2d doesn't?

        I've been around 3D for decades and I still don't know what people are imagining when they say "3D web!!"

        (and AFAICT the people want it most are all stoners...)

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:25AM (#42934929) Journal

        I guess you might be stating my opinion; but my thought is why? What is the 3d web going to give me that 2d doesn't?

        It might be helpful to consider an analogy: "What is the 3d desktop going to give me that 2d doesn't?".

        The first stab at '3d web', the ghastly VRML horror, is very similar in spirit to the various abortive attempts at creating '3d desktop' graphical shells. As it turns out, this is an area where you are lucky to break even with what you are trying to replace, and epic failure is the rule. Such attempts have largely died, and deserved it.

        'WebGL'(as its name suggests) is much more closely aligned to '3d desktop' in the sense of 'people writing programs for this platform can expect OpenGL and/or Direct3d to be available to their programs if they want it'. This has proven to be enormously useful: lots of applications are simply impossible in anything approaching real time on affordable hardware with a pure-software render path, and the bad old days of having one variant for 3dfx/Glide, one for software, one for openGL, and possibly one or two others for oddball losers like 'S3 METAL'.

        If you fundamentally don't like this 'web-app' stuff, you won't like it any more once OpenGL ES is given javascript hooks and set loose upon the world. However, the ability to deploy as 'web-apps' applications that require 3d capabilities has the same basic set of use cases as deploying 3d applications as native binaries.

      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        3D interfaces make use of your notion of distance to allow you to see much larger groups of things and understand where they are. Your brain has huge subsystems designed for overview scans, if there is any sort of sane order you'll be able to understand thousands of controls if they are presented to you in a 3D interface. That allows for very complex software.

        For example go to the bottom of http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ [huffingtonpost.com] and click on the links: politics, style... and see how you have no idea where anythin

      • While maybe those movies seem a bit dated now, I'll point to ones like Johnny Mnemonic, in which the "3d" involved entirely new formatting of types of information. Minus a lot of the dazzle, in "today's 2d world" (to abuse a business phrase) I can basically only have one panel (however compound) of info in front of me at a time on the monitor, while everything else just has to sit there and wait to be looked at. If anything I have a "pseudo-2.5d" workflow whereupon info is organized in the following hierarc

      • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:39AM (#42935685)

        > What is the 3d web going to give me that 2d doesn't?

        At the risk of getting down modded: your thinking is the typical two dimensional can't-think-outside-the-proverbial-box. 3D has a time and a place for certain interactive and educational applications.

        To put things into perspective.
        http://workshop.chromeexperiments.com/stars/ [chromeexperiments.com]

        For teaching about the science of waves, caustics, etc.
        http://madebyevan.com/webgl-water/ [madebyevan.com]

        For people to explore creativity without needing an over-priced program
        http://derschmale.com/demo/farbe/watercolour/FarbeWaterColour.html [derschmale.com]

        For rapid prototyping and fun playing around with shaders
        http://www.iquilezles.org/apps/shadertoy/ [iquilezles.org]

        Just because _you_ can't see a need or use for it does not imply it is useless for everyone else.

        • by Ghostworks ( 991012 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @03:33PM (#42938047)

          There's no doubt that it's useful for something: the fact that standalone 3D applications exist is proof that it's good for something. And yes, it would be better to have a portable, universally-understood format for those applications to increase the utility of any such program. But that's not the question. The question is why it hasn't taken off for the web. I suggest that it is because 3D graphics can only harm most of the web-browsing experience.

          First, recognize that those areas where it is necessary tends to be as embedded media or shareable, free-standing programs. It's good that you can get at them through the web, and it's great that you don't need to install specialized software, but they're not really web-native any more than a form-base calculator or a flash game is web native. It's just something that happens to be served up through a browser.

          Second, recognize that the modern web is not 2D. it is more like 2.5D, or perhaps 2.ND for an arguable value of N. Content is not static, but updates (such as this page). Content is tailored to the specific user (such as facebook). Content on even a "static" page now leverages CSS-based drop-down menus, pop-ups, and forms that require user interaction to reveal information that already exist client-side. And these are the successful "2D+" technologies. I won't even touch the unsuccessful ones like entirely Flash-based websites.

          We still recognize such things as "pages", and they have enabled new techniques, but there have also been tradeoffs. Some examples:
          1) those CSS-based menus now keep you from finding information as quickly as you could have before. On the old web, if I wanted to find a phone number for a particular location of restaurant chain, I could load their page and cnt+F for my area code... and there it was. Now, I can try to use similar means to accelerate the search (cntl+F on "tel", "contact", "locations", etc.), but that will usually only help me find the specific link/menu quicker. In general, I now find the information every bit as slowly as someone who types 20 words a minute and doesn't know cntl+F exists.
          2) On the old web, you could bookmark a page and be pretty confident that -- so long as the site itself remained live -- that information would ways be there and associated with that address. Now it is relatively easy to loose track of information unless you save a local copy, even when the information itself is still on the web. (The USPTO website is notorious for this, with it's ASP pages that serve up dynamically-named TIFF images of patents are live for 2 weeks or so.) This loss of functionality began almost two decades ago, so there are many who don't even remember what a reliable web was like.

          The modern web is prettier, but also more mouse-dependent, less reliable in terms of finding old data, and a lot more dependent on our feudal web-lord of choice (i.e. Google) to glue the whole damn thing together

          So given that we're talking about adding on a new layer of presentation, we have to ask what it would buy us, and what it would cost us, and whether the net would be better off for it overall. First, we'd be able to simultaneously take in a lot more data in one visual slice, but it would be less searchable. It may also only be really useful if each data point is itself visual. It will also be easier to construct pages where some information is pushed to the fore while other information becomes either peripheral, or completely hidden. So what is this good for? Street-view? Sure. Augmented reality? Sure, But we don't really have it yet. Niche content as describe above? Sure, but that's not going to drive the technology of the underlying web.

          So let's take another step back. What is the problem that 3D attempts to solve for everyone? I would argue that that problem, by and large, doesn't exist yet. There are two technologies -- 3D printing and Augmented Reality (of the markup-a-picture-taken-with-my-phone variety, not the cyberpunk-HUD-in-glasses variety) -- which could give mor

    • by methano ( 519830 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:30AM (#42934521)
      The whole bunch of people who think about graphics on the web are always behind. The underlying framework for 2D (.svg etc.) is just now being developed and embraced. Back in the 90's when we really could have used such things due to such low bandwidth availability, we were bit mapping everything.

      Apple understood this back in 1984 when they did all the primitive stuff in ROM. But as Apple faded and MS took over in the early 90's, intelligent graphics for the masses went missing. MS even killed a Mac graphics capable database (FoxBase) by buying it and taking out it's graphics capabilities. 3D? not likely anytime soon.
    • by packman ( 156280 )

      The problem with simply displaying 3D models is that it is not flexible. Right now, there are working ports of Quake to WebGL, you wouldn't be able to do that with if you limited yourself to providing a default engine.

      What I would expect to happen is that since Javascript right now can handle binary data, that some sort of 'generic' 3D engine in javascript would pop up for the "simple" stuff like you describe, able to read multiple binary file formats, like Blender, 3DMax, .. files. Think jquery for 3D, sim

  • by Arab ( 466938 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:10AM (#42934353) Journal

    Unless it's supported in Links I'm not going to use 3D...

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

      That was a great golf game......

      Now, if you meant Lynx the browser, well, good luck with that.

      • by Mr Foobar ( 11230 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:21AM (#42934435) Homepage

        You're kidding, right?...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Links_(web_browser) [wikipedia.org]

      • by FBeans ( 2201802 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:28AM (#42934497)
        I think he means Links [wikipedia.org]. I think it's a valid point to raise, the web is great because you can access it with a large variety of browsers. Having 3D websites would force us to reconsider this, do we support just 3D or do we create both 3D and 2D website. More importantly, 3D is fundamentally flawed. I'm not sure how happy I'd be if I had to fight a headache every time I browse the web. The answer to the OPs question may well be, just because we /could/, doesn't mean we need or want to. The work required outweighs the benefits.
        • Just so the 3D framework lets us separate content from layout...


        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You are misunderstanding. The goal isn't to create 3D web sites. It's about making it easy to provide 3D content for the web. Asking "do we support just 3D or do we create both 3D and 2D website" is like asking "do we support just video or do we create both a regular web site and a video website" when discussing the need to deliver video content on the web. Few people are going to argue that we replace websites built with HTML and CSS with a streaming video.

    • Unless it's supported in Links I'm not going to use 3D...

      Bollocks to that, I'm not using it unless it's supported in *Lynx* running on an 80-column greenscreen terminal.

      • or a screenreader. just to use an actually usefull example.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Your disdain is lovely, but some of us have vision problems that are not quite severe enough to cause us to require a screen reader, but do require the simplification of a text only browser. So the suggestion of Lynx is an "an actually useful example".

  • A better question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:10AM (#42934355)

    Why should take off? What's the drive behind it? What need does it satisfy?
    You can't push out something without a market. Flash created a market for 2D web graphics, and now HTML5 standardizes that based on the experience we had in the Flash years. Unity is doing the same thing for 3D, but it will take a while before 3D on the web becomes common enough to need standardization.

    • by tuppe666 ( 904118 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:35AM (#42934551)

      Why should take off? What's the drive behind it? What need does it satisfy?

      I sold medical hardware through the web using a 3rd party plug-in 10 years ago, and it was wow. Here is a small list
      Education - Planetary Systems, Engines, Inside Human Body
      Lets Break out of 2D - Streetview 3D...or walk where it is unsafe...Warzones, Mars...or even oil rigs safety training ....or lets face it the only really one. SHOPPING, no more multiple static views of item.

      As I said I did this years ago for a company, it looked great, but it was a clunky implementation.

      • , but it was a clunky implementation.

        Well, so's the webGL implementation.

        I remember a story a while back about getting nearly 45 FPS on a shooter on a fast desktop (first gen Core i7) using WebGL.

        Of course the shooter was Quake II.

        Which was nicely playable (don't remember the exact FPS, though it didn't always maintain 45 in very large scenes) on my P133 with an Nvidia Riva128 graphics card.

      • by devent ( 1627873 )

        You can do all of that today in Flash but nobody does it.
        Flash have an installer base of 90% of the web. Why would anybody start with WebGL now, if they could have done it with Flash 20 years ego? The reason is: nobody really need 3D.

        3D will always remain second class (or last class) in a world dominated by 2D display technology. Come back with 3D stuff if you have a halfway working holodeck ala Star Trek. (even then I don't think anybody will go to a holodeck just for Streetview or Shopping [well, maybe sh

      • To make it practical, you need a cheap way of creating model data from real life items. You need a cheap 3d scanner. Without it, the high cost of creating the model far outweighs most practical uses.

    • Google already wants to use it in maps. I personally would prefer if Google Maps worked like Google Earth. Online stores like Amazon tend to show multiple views of products. Why not just provide a 3d model users can rotate themselves? This is especially true for the sites providing models aimed at 3D printing.

      Data visualizations use 3D all the time; it's built into most scientific plotting softwares.

      Building 3D models of arbitrary scenes from just images is rapidly leaving the research world, as d
    • Why? For e-commerce. Especially for products that are made to order, anything that cuts down on return rates ("this isn't what I thought I saw on the website") is worth putting some money into. I'm working on exactly this sort of project right now and we finally made the decision to cut 3D because support is so patchy.

      End user support isn't the whole problem though. You also need 3D models with enough detail to look smooth but small enough to deliver over the web. If you can even get 3D models for a product

    • by geogob ( 569250 )

      This question : "Do we actually need this?" should be asked more often when new technologies are coming up.

      If a new technology fails to come forward in today's world, I think the question is even more relevant.

      (and sorry to the OP. I accidentally moded you wrong... you know... mouse slipped. Hence this somewhat pointless comment.)

  • It'll be a niche market at home, initially attracting those who like to acquire the newest shiny tech just to have it.
  • Wrong question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:14AM (#42934379)

    The question should be ..

    What is the compelling user experience that would be enabled by 3D?

    And what do you really mean by 3D? Do you mean projections onto a 2D surface of a 3D model? Or do you mean something like the spinning displays that render voxels that you can actually walk around? Because a genuine, cheap, ubiquitous 3D display would open up all sorts of possibilities.

    • Actually, isn't the web already 3d or better? Isn't that the whole point of the hypertext? It takes a flat 2d page and adds multiple dimension of information through linked text (and menus, sidebars, images, drop-downs/pop-ups, cascades (like /.'s comments), etc)

      I suspect the reason that a Hollywood-style "graphical 3d" web interface hasn't taken off is the difficulty in re-representing the existing non-2d structure. Essentially it only works if the linked components can be represented in a single linear di

  • Because... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

    First of all, it's NOT 3D. It's fixed optical stereo. Which leads to headaches due to many bad cues for your visual system, and only barely looks 3D if you hold still and pretend there's only one fixed viewpoint in the world. Which isn't true, and under the circumstances of pretending there is, you lose a great deal of interesting visual information. You get one view out of a huge number of possibilities.

    Secondly because real 3D is hard; consumers don't have display devices for it yet.

    Third, because real 3D

    • Re:Because... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:22AM (#42934439)

      I don't think the submitter is asking about the optical-stereo kind of 3d (like what you get with "3d movies" and "3d glasses"), but rather just geometric projections of 3d scenes onto a 2d viewing plane, like you get in Leonardo da Vinci paintings or Quake.

      • Noninteractive "geometric projections of 3d scenes onto a 2d viewing plane", such as Mona Lisa, can be done server-side. Interactive ones, such as Quake, can be rebuilt for each client platform. True, duplicating effort for each client platform poses an entry barrier, but I can think of a few Slashdot users who regularly post comments showing a desire for entry barriers for anything interactive in order to protect end users from having their time wasted by a glut of novice productions.
      • by dj245 ( 732906 )

        I don't think the submitter is asking about the optical-stereo kind of 3d (like what you get with "3d movies" and "3d glasses"), but rather just geometric projections of 3d scenes onto a 2d viewing plane, like you get in Leonardo da Vinci paintings or Quake.

        PDF can do this. Adobe's viewer can do it for sure. Chrome's internal PDF viewer seems to choke on it. Not sure about other software. It doesn't seem [3dpdfconsortium.org] to be an Adobe-only feature. Digikey uses it for some of their parts. Digikey CP-102A-ND [digikey.com] is a decent example.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      this has actually nothing to do with stereo-vision.

      it's just about why we can't add game like graphics into web pages in a standardized way.

      the reason is that nobody gives a shit and the implementations are either shit world describing languages with shit implementations(vrml) or just opengl wrappers(webgl) that are good only for games.

    • isn't he referring to standard 3d graphics (momentarily nsfw) [pouet.net], not "fixed optical stereo"?
  • I don't think it will take off anytime in the near future. The way that we interact with computers is so ingrained in us that the 3D paradigm is just to foreign for the average user. Sure, movies make it look cool and easy, but out side of gaming and CAD, there just isn't an accepting market. Meanwhile, if you do want to get into 3D development (dons flameproof suit and hunkers down for the inevitable explosion), Flash is still a viable option. Using the Air platform you can target Windows and Mac deskt
    • the 3D paradigm is just to(sic) foreign for the average user.

      Yes, yes, this is it. Every day I am thankful that my life consists of no more than navigating a 2D space. WTH would you *do* with a third dimension, anyway?

      • Precisely. What do I want to do with a *virtual* 3D space? Or, what do *I* want to do with a 3D space.

        Simulation of virtual spaces, games, showing 3D objects.I think this is what 3D might offer. Until now, quite poorly. But not a great deal of need for me to do that. I suspect for most people it's just not a bit deal. So there's no money in it. How's the income on your Second Life store these days? Selling many sports shoes / domestic electrical goods / holiday packages to Australia? Why *don't* 3D spaces w

      • Every day I am thankful that my life consists of no more than navigating a 2D space.

        The everyday life of the majority of people has a fractal dimension [wikipedia.org] far closer to two than three. When you navigate the real world, you navigate in a plane, with one dimension north and south and the other dimension east and west. Even when you go up and down, it's typically in discrete units called "floors" or "stories" (spelled "storeys" in the Commonwealth) which can be regarded as separate planes.

        • So you typically traverse paths within a 2d plane, and your vision is presented in essentially a 2d plane with 3d cues embedded. Your perspective of your traversal path limits your view of that space to a small section of it, whereas a 2d working plane on a computer monitor is wholly existent, and the user typically brings objects into and out of that space.

          It seems to me there is much to be done in bringing our physical interaction and our visual interface with computers into a mode that is more intuitive

    • Well, that post sounds like a pretty cool idea.

      If your use case relies more on beeing cool than being productive. (Don't get me wrong: this IS a valid use case category. Think of games or design heavy sites)

  • To reach most people you'd have to learn Javascript, WebGL and Three.js/Scene.js for Chrome/Firefox, then you'd have to learn actionscript + flash for the microsofties, then learn objective c for the apple fanboyz, then learn Java to write a native app for Android.

    You could do all of that and get crappy 3D (except for maybe the last one), or you could just write something in OpenGL and compile and run it anywhere you want natively. If there was a demand you could even skip the compiling (there are JIT Ope

    • Because it's the only piece of cross-platform middleware that's taken off. Cross-platform compiled apps are a lot harder to do than web apps on a more or less common platform. The differences between IE, Firefox and Webkit browsers are far smaller than the differences between Windows, OS X and the various Linux distros.

    • or you could just write something in OpenGL and compile and run it anywhere you want natively.

      Running something natively generally involves crossing an end-user permission boundary. Remember ActiveX? Furthermore, more and more often, running something natively requires gaining permission from a multinational company to whom device owners have delegated the power of curation, such as Apple or the game console makers.

      Why must we shoehorn every last thing onto a platform that was meant to display text?

      Because it provides a sandbox such that the permission boundary of downloading and installing a native application is not necessary.

  • Passing fad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kylegordon ( 159137 )

    3D is a passing fad generated by the media companies to try and push more units. Consumers haven't picked up on it as they hoped, and the web is unlikely to do so either. The real future is in higher definitions and larger screens.

    And anyway, who needs 3D when you've got this? https://github.com/404.html [github.com]

  • Until very recently there was very little use for 3D for most people. Those few doing CAD, and some games were the only users, and they are not enough to bring 3D into the mainstream.

    However we now have relatively low cost 3D movie cameras and 3D printers are also beginning to become common. I think 3D will finally start to take off.

  • ...it hasn't taken off in TV, video games (how many people with a 3DS just leave the 3D turned off all the time? I do), or even in movies aside from a few isolated successes. Because it's inconvenient, expensive, and doesn't add anything really compelling.

  • by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:38AM (#42934561)

    Didn't VRML already proof that noone needs content that is hard to create and carries no additional information?

    I can teach a 4th grader to create simple, but complete and useable websites in notepad. Even creating fancy websites is easy with Wordpad, Joomla, Frontpage, Dreamweaver, you name it.

    But did you ever try to create 3D content? And it's definitly not the lack of tools for creating it.

    And what kind of content would you expect in 3D anyway? Back during the VRML hype, the standard rationale why you need it were either games or 360 degrees product views. Add 3D-charts if you want. And now look at the most frequented websites today: In what way would Facebook or Twitter and whatever webmail client you're using need it?

    • by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:50AM (#42934647) Journal

      But did you ever try to create 3D content?

      Yes I did. And it is not that hard either. VRML is a great language, I still want language designers to learn from its event handling system. What killed VRML in my opinion, was that the standards body was taken over by a company that wanted to push its own format. Killed by commerce.

    • Didn't VRML already proof that noone needs content that is hard to create and carries no additional information?

      No, VRML proved that no one wanted to install a plugin to see objects /environments that they can rotate/explore on the one website that they saw with VRML elements. I've seen people impressed with webgl when it "just works" in firefox and chrome, but they wouldn't have bothered to find a VRML plugin (if one is even compatible anymore).

  • I don't see why we would need pages of information to incorporate 3D elements. The only two uses I can think of are games and gimmicky UI / animations. The former would be better served via native code with a browser plugin (e.g. Unity3D) or a virtual machine (e.g. Java applets). The latter - gimmicky animations - we could probably do without.

    A better use of 3D might be to use XML/HTML/HTTP type technologies to model virtual worlds that can be linked together in the same way we link pages together with anch

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:43AM (#42934603) Journal

    You don't have to use the languages the story states for the various platforms. You use C++ or C and OpenGL for the library and use the same code for all 3 platforms. I know because I've done it.

  • The primary uses for 3-D are content creation and gaming. The amount of content creation done on the web is limited, primarily due to performance bottlenecks. Simply put, you don't do engineering or video production or create games on the web. The other big application is gaming. That being said, consumers seem to be happy with downloading and installing games on their computers or mobile devices.

    Of course the other issue is that the Internet remains an content delivery medium. A big part of the reason

  • The web is mostly just textual information. There's dressing and markup. There's an isolated video embedded in the text, but mostly it's text. And text is 2D. What is everyone going to create complicated 3D interfaces for?

    • The only good example in whole thread was product presentation in E-commerce.
      3D model instead of picture gallery.

  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:10AM (#42934795)
    Around 10 years ago, there were some promising Web3D technologies around. VRML was easy to create VR walkthroughs with. But there was no unified VRML browser plugin - there were multiple plugins, each with its own quirks - and it was hard to create meaningful interaction with it. Shockwave3D was introduced with Macromedia Director 8.5. It was great for creating Web3D applications. It failed on 3 counts though. 1) It had no 3D creation UI whatsoever. Everything had to be scripted by hand with Lingo code, which made it a "programmers only" 3D solution. 2) The Flash crowd put a lot of pressure on Macromedia not to develop Shockwave3D further, and to instead put a 3D engine into the Flash plugin. 3) After Adobe bought Macromedia, nobody updated the DirectX 7/OpenGL based Shockwave3D engine for several years. The engine fell behind the state-of-the-art in graphics quality, and the handful of people who were capable of using Shockwave3D stopped developing web3D apps with it. --- Then there is the sorry story of Virtools 3D, now owned by Dassault Systems. Virtools had a great 3D engine, coupled with a visual-programming paradigm that was as easy to program with as connecting visual flowchart elements with lines. Virtools failed terribly in the market because the ahead-of-their-time French company that created it insisted on pricing Virtools at 25,000 Dollars a seat or thereabouts. That was so expensive that Virtools never attracted more than a handful of users, even though it featured a powerful & easy to use toolset. ----- One more case. Quest3D combined a great-looking, web-capable 3D engine with a visual programming paradigm. But Quest3D's connect-the-nodes programming paradigm was not intuitive at all. Even though it was cheaper than Virtools, the idiosyncratic, and some would say eccentric - way you had to program Quest3D caused it to fail. ------ To sum it up in a few words, the companies that WERE capable of creating Web3D authoring tools in the early 2000s made mistake after mistake, eventually causing Web3D to fail completely. Shockwave3D had no GUI for 3D work. VRML was too simple, no good for anything more than interactive walkthroughs. Virtools was great, but cost as much as a fricking car to buy. Quest3D failed on the user-friendliness front. Flash never got a usable 3D engine integrated. ---- Basically, Web3D had lots of potential as far back as 10 years ago. But the lack of user-friendly or affordable tools caused Web3D to fail. ----- Today there are powerful and easy to use 3D engines like Unity for web development. But it took way too long for it to arrive, and the Web3D market went flat - as in "flat coke" - during the years that passed without any progress being made on the Web3D tech-front. ------- Web3D may eventually come back because of another trend, and that is "Augmented Reality". But nobody knows that for certain.
    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Great argument. I agree with you. In general video distorted the whole Flash/Shockwave paradigm which could have been an excellent tool for interactivity. It would be nice if someone would stop in and rebuild these.

  • customer: I can't find the link to order your product

    customer service: You need to navigate down the hall to the left.

    customer: I've already been down there.

    CS: Which floor are you on?

    C: I think I'm on floor 5.

    CS: Oh sorry, in that case I need you to go to the stairway, the elevators are down right now.

    C: I can't do that, I didn't purchase the fully functional avatar.

    CS: That's all right sir, we can upgrade you right now for $5.99.

  • With HTML5 we're closer to the point where a browser can do almost everything that a native app can do.

    It will always be closer and always be almost, and it's easier and cheaper to write a native app, especially for something performance intensive like 3d. The only reason HTML took off for applications was because of it solved the distribution problem, not the write once, run anywhere problem. Code signing and app stores have provided a better solution to the distribution problem.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HotSauce [wikipedia.org]

    http://downlode.org/Etext/MCF/ [downlode.org]

    This was fun to play with back in 96

  • Making flat 2 dimensional images seem 3d is really just a gimmick. I don't mind it in movies (I don't have any of the headache issues, and I so rarely see films in theater now that I'm willing to drop a couple of bucks for 3d for something big and splodey) but it's just a gimmick because it doesn't make the environment more interactive or allow you to see anything you wouldn't see otherwise.

    The things that take off on the web are things that make it more interactive and that let the user do useful things. J

  • Computer monitors are 2D screens so any 3D rendering is merely a projection and thus requires interaction to rotated through and look at. Once we have holo displays (real ones not 2.5D with glasses or 3DS style) or holodecks the web will be 3D until then it will continue to match it's main UI system.
  • I see a lot of folks who are saying that 3D user interface is a gimmick. I think -- actually, I know --- that there just hasn't been much research into intuitive 3D user interface designs. Look around this page. Everything is rectangular and 2D. That's because memory is one dimensional, and with a wrap + offset you get a cheap 2D raster area. Nearly all user interface is directly affected by the old limitations that 2D rasterizable areas have. However, if you add another plane, or "channel" to the pixel data you can create a depth buffer which beautifully handles rasterization and/or stenciling of non rectangular shapes -- and your GPU is fully capable of doing such compositing, even on most 8 year old PCs or laptops w/ integrated graphics (my "minimum system requirements" rigs).

    I've actually been doing experimental research into 3D GUIs. In doing so I threw away the 2D rectangular "window", like this text box -- Gone. I had to throw them out, they were expensive. With 3D its more expensive to have areas of rectangular windows in the scene -- "clipping" or scissor / stencil operation to prevent objects from being shown outside a rectangle of pixels. It's much cheaper to load all the 3D stuff into the GPU and let the Z-Buffer handle the compositing (after some rough scene-wide clipping code excludes larger areas you won't be able to see).

    One thing I realized is that it costs nothing to tilt things vs having them directly facing the screen. This means I can react to your mouse / head / finger or even eye movement. As you move the mouse to the right I can tilt and rotate the view such that more of the user interface becomes visible. This means you move the mouse less because the 3D elements naturally move towards your cursor (rotating in the opposite direction "around your head"). You effectively get more interface area, and you can have static panels of settings or menus for example off the edges of the screen that come into view as your mouse nears that edge of the screen -- Without overlapping your current workspace (like the Unity panel does in auto-hide).

    The subtle tilting seamlessly reminds your brain where those "off screen" panels are -- Unlike with many current 2D touch UIs (Windows 8, for example), which rely on you to memorize gesture locations. These 2D UIs are inferior in my opinion because they lack discoverability. They place more load on your mind. What's interesting is that I've found that folks who use multiple screens or a large enough screens already utilize their peripheral vision to "track" other information. You notice if a twitter feed updates if it's open on another screen or window. In the real world humans do this too. When we're driving our eyes are sensitive to the movement in the side view mirrors. How do you access that field of view? Simply turn your head -- or in the case of mouse driven 3D UI, move the mouse to indicate your focal intent.

    I literally have to think outside the box when re-creating standard UI elements like lists -- There's no bounding rectangle needed to conform to. I can simply dim the background a bit to add contrast, and let each list item be as long as it wants to be, tilting and sliding to meet your gaze as you read the individual items; No hard top or bottom, you can simply move them into view, and they stretch off into the distance (w/ multiple Levels of Detail for the various draw distances). To overlap items I can slightly tilt one under the other, or fold panels into the scree -- where they're still visible but take up less area -- They can slowly drift to your peripheral vision to keep you aware of them and snap back into the foreground if you move your mouse or turn your head or shift your gaze upon them momentarily.

    There's no reason that you can't use make creating such 3D UIs even more simple than 2D UIs like HTML. For instance, You could simply indicate a section of data be "auto-hideable" and have the user's preference automatically do whatever that means to the user. There hasn't

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:08AM (#42935363) Homepage

    3D doesn't offer much more than a wow factor... a factor which wears off pretty quickly. The exception to this is in games and simulations.

    Every TV and Movie production featuring 3D has been met with "that was pretty cool, but gives me a headache or was too distracting and I couldn't enjoy the story."

    The best 3D appears in our heads.

    If we were to enjoy a 3D production in the future, it would have to most resemble a stage play allowing the viewer to experience the sensation of being a bystander watching the thing play out. We're simply not there yet... no holograms which is just about the only way to make it happen. It won't stop people from trying and failing again and again, but I think some people get it. Effective 3D would enable people to see things from any and all angles.

  • by 2fuf ( 993808 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:21AM (#42935483)

    After 20 years in IT, having heard the same stories time and time again, I'm surprised so many people still fall for this age-old mock discussion. Isn't it obvious that platform manufacturers profit by limiting the access/content developers have to their systems?

    That's why:
    - Sun's Java VM was suddenly dropped from Windows
    - Mono is not a Microsoft product
    - MS wants an app store for Windows
    - Silverlight exists
    - jQuery exists
    - Flash is depicted as bad boy on mobile
    - Xbox exists instead of enabling Windows pc's for console use
    - Document formats like .XSLX, .DOC and .ODS still need converter software
    - no browser manufacturer sticks to the W3C recommendations and standards

    Interoperability and compatibility is bad business. It's a Mexican stand-off or Cold War between the big corporations. Nobody wants to be the loser, so it's easier to stick to your guns than to move towards cooperation.

    All the mock reasons that are given why certain things are 'bad" is just to keep the masses distracted. I'm disappointed in the huge number of hipster developers that swallow this shit for truth and don't see that the advancement of technology has been hugely disabled by this war mongering.

    10 years ago the 'browser wars' took up at least 50% of development time on the projects I worked on as a web dev, and now in 2013 this is still a heavy burden on many IT budgets. Imagine what we could have build if everything worked properly. All the wasted time and money, and so many still fall for the farcical discussion of why one tech is better than another...

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:36AM (#42935647) Homepage

    There were quite a few VRML sites out there in the late 90's. You needed the Cosmo Worls player to view them. I used a free VRML editor called VRML Arena to build a few small scenes. I go the player from a book I got in 98, still have it but its been put away somewhere. VRML Arena worked in Windws 95 but in but 98 was missing a dll it required. Strangly in Windows XP it worked once again.

    As for 3D even though VRML was pretty cool now that I look at it, why would I need 3D except for entertainment purposes? Give me a flat web so I can get my info right away.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"