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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 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:21AM (#42934437)

    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?

    Precisely one more D. More D's are better, just like GB's and WiFi's. And let us not forget 11.

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

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Anonymous Coward wrote:

    There are a few tiny edge cases

    What's with this recurring meme that I've been seeing on Slashdot lately that edge cases should be ignored? If everybody has his own edge case, then why not allow something that handles all the edge cases acceptably?

    but everything else is FPS or gimmick.

    True, one of the first video games with a 3D perspective (Battlezone) was the ur-first-person-shooter, but 3D games in other genres have been popular since the mid-1990s. Or is every other video game genre "gimmick" and "few tiny edge cases" to you? I'm not getting what you mean by "gimmick"; in the circles where I hang out, "gimmick" refers to a 2D platformer for the NES published by Sunsoft with a design aesthetic similar to that of the Kirby games.

    kind of like 3D tv's

    The "3D" in "3D TV" and the "3D" in WebGL are two different things. WebGL just defines a way to project 3D geometry into a display plane. This display plane may or may not be presented with binocular separation, which is what the "3D" in "3D TV" and "Nintendo 3DS" means.

  • 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.

  • Re:Passing fad (Score:4, Informative)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:02AM (#42934733)
    Article isn't about stereoscopy, it's about OpenGL style 3D (hence webgl).
  • 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.
  • Re:nobody cares (Score:4, Informative)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:15AM (#42934841)
    If you had even read the summary, you'd know this is about 3d graphics a la OpenGL, not stereoscopic "3d" a la 3d movies.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:21AM (#42934903)

    Well, that's exactly what a Flash game does. It's self-limiting... games can only get as big as some current threshold for network speeds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:31AM (#42934975)

    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".

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