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3D Web Browser Draws Lukewarm Review 218

Posted by timothy
from the how-your-browser-views-a-sphere dept.
GreyGoo writes "The media release claims 'Internet surfers will be able to walk through their favourite websites as if they are characters in a computer game with the launch of the world's first 3D browser in Australia today.' However a review from someone who has actually tested the software raises important questions about the worth of the product considering the competing social and 3D products, and that sites have to be hand-crafted in order to truly support the new browser." A browser tied to a social networking scheme seems like a recipe for supreme annoyance.
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3D Web Browser Draws Lukewarm Review

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  • My 3d browser (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnick (1211984) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:43PM (#25059203) Homepage

    I already have a 3d browser:
    1) Vertical
    2) Horizontal
    3) Tabbed

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's actually 4D - you browse in time.

      Then again, I'd like a 5D browser. I've always wanted to browse Wikipedia via Tesseract...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by melikamp (631205)
      Your 3-rd dimension is discrete. The push is for a continuous dimension.
      • by gnick (1211984) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:48PM (#25060335) Homepage

        It depends on how you browse. I typically have 1000 tabs open that I force onto the same row (I leave a few pixels for the frame) and I mouse-wheel through them at ~60 pages per second. Since my tabs are each 1 pixel wide, they're no more discreet than my horizontal resolution.

        Isn't that how everyone does it?

      • Based on his sig, it seems the only dimension he needs is one with Ace Rimmer (what a guy!).

    • Quick call the McCain campaign...Palin needs a 3rd dimension, her lack of depth is starting to show. (Probably because she's finally answering a couple of, easy, questions). Sorry - flamebait me, mod it down, but I just read more BS about how her kitchen window view and fact that she finally got a passport last year, makes her and expert on foreign policy. I needed to scream quietly somewhere, and you're the first reply on the top main story. How stupid can we, the America voting public, be?????
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:44PM (#25059221)

    I know this.

  • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:46PM (#25059257) Homepage Journal
    VRML enabled sites have been around for years. It might be a more complex impimentation of a VRML plugin, but it hardly seems noteworthy.
    • by paganizer (566360) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .1evorgeht.> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:03PM (#25059585) Homepage Journal

      VRML enabled browsers have not only been around for years, but also dedicated VRML browsers; I can't for the life of me remember what it was called, but there was a MUD client back in around '97 that not only did VRML mud rendering, it also had a integrated web/VRML browser.
      it's going to bug the crap out of me until I remember what it was called now.

    • by Zadaz (950521) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:39PM (#25060183)

      I worked on no less than three different "first" 3D web browser projects. Since I haven't done that kind of work since 2001, I can only imagine how many other have happened between now and then. (Google [google.com] says about 2 million.)

      It was pointless and awkward then, and they are now. Navigating a column of data is infinitely more easy than navigating a cloud of it. It's a paradigm we're used to. It's why there are (used to be) card catalogs in a library-because navigating a cloud of books is hard, but a column of titles is easy. Most web usability is bad enough in 2d, lets not give ourselves a 3rd dimension until we've earned it.

      An aside: Every one of those 3D web projects I worked on back then also called themselves "Web 2.0"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by syousef (465911)

      VRML enabled sites have been around for years. It might be a more complex impimentation of a VRML plugin, but it hardly seems noteworthy.

      What's noteworthy is that these fools try to claim they're the first, and call a plugin a web browser. That's enough hype and inaccuracy to make me not bother trying it. It feels like a sleazy scam even if it is a legit product.

  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 77Punker (673758) <<spencr04> <at> <highpoint.edu>> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:50PM (#25059339)

    I don't know what books or newspapers would gain from being in 3D, aside from children's books. My web browsing is really not very different from how I interact with printed media, except for things like posting comments. What would a browser gain?

    I've never understood the drive for a 3D GUI on a computer. I have yet to see anything more usable than the current WIMP setups included with today's major operating systems.

    • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

      by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:55PM (#25059449) Journal

      Let me have a stab at it... there are 3D objects that we recognize in every day life, and by converting menus and navigation of the site to 3D it is simpler for some people to understand than the maze of menus. That is one theory anyway.

      People think in ways more inline with a 3D world than menus and submenus. Even if most of us can get used to it, I've seen people pissed because they can't find the "contact us" link. In a 3D world, that would be represented by a telephone or computer or mailbox etc.

      Yes, it would have conventions that most web sites stick to now as well, but it's just another way to navigate and interface with the information on a website. Right now, there is no compelling reason to start shifting to that paradigm, but such has been the case with most large changes to how the WWW works.

      Why buy a new car with GPS, TPS, rear view camera etc.?

      • by cream wobbly (1102689) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @03:09PM (#25060689)

        I've seen people pissed because they can't find the "contact us" link

        That's because some sites actively try to hide it away. Ever tried to contact Yahoo! or Amazon?

        In a 3D world, that [the "contact us" link] would be represented by a telephone or computer or mailbox etc.

        ...which would be hidden in the bottom of a representation of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a representation of a disused lavatory with a representation of a sign on the door saying, "Beware of the representation of the Leopard", which is in a representation of a disused cellar, with no stairs, represented or otherwise. You need to use the representation of a flashlight to see the representation of a telephone, a computer, or a mailbox.

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        In a 3D world, that would be represented by a telephone or computer or mailbox etc.

        I would find that a lot easier to believe if the current de facto standard were to use a 2D image of a telephone / computer / mailbox.

      • by smoker2 (750216)

        I've seen people pissed because they can't find the "contact us" link. In a 3D world, that would be represented by a telephone or computer or mailbox etc.

        And you would eventually find those objects in the basement in the bottom of a filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard.
        This kind of reasoning reminds me of the Not the Nine o'clock News sketch where a guy invents a device to tell deaf people when the phone is ringing ...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chris Mattern (191822)

          a guy invents a device to tell deaf people when the phone is ringing ...

          They have those, because deaf people can use the telephone. Sometimes because the deafness isn't total and they can hear you with the earpiece turned up (but a ring they could hear across the room would wake up the whole neighborhood), and those who are totally deaf can still use TDD.

      • What physical object should I click on when I want to email them? I don't want to call them, so I'm not clicking on the phone. I'm not sending them a real letter, so I won't click on an envelope.

        If they give me a virtual world, they'd better do the physics right so I can harm things and other people when I can't find the freaking right object to use to email them.
        • by zappepcs (820751)

          Friend Bill,
          If I am designing the website/page, rest assured that there will be someone there to punch, samurai sword on the wall for your convenience, and if possible, the mere act of you choosing to use it will send lights flashing and horns blaring in the call center along with your information so that someone contacts you directly asap.

          What many do not understand is that the 3D worlds do permit a huge variety of interaction that a web page simply will not allow. I believe that 3D and virtual world websi

      • by eggnoglatte (1047660) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @05:27PM (#25062839)

        The people who think this should read some books on user interfaces. This kind of 3D UI has been analyzed for decades, and has uniformly been found to suck for a number of reasons, including:

        - while the world s 3D, the display technology itself is 2D. Introducing 3D content in 2D automatically means some information will be occluded and needs to be found through navigation.

        - humans suck at 3D navigation. While we live in a 3D world, we have evolved to move on a 2D surface. Studies have shown over and over again that people cannot solve even the most basic true 3D navigation tasks without substantial training.

        - 3D is a really poor use of your "screen realestate" (i.e. the number of pixels you have on your screen). In 2D, almost all of your pixels can be used to show important content, in 3D you are bound to have lots of your pixels (often way over 50%) show 3D context that does not contribute to communicating the content itself.

    • I've never understood the drive for a 3D GUI on a computer.

      How else are we going to be able to say, "I know this. It's UNIX!"?
    • I've never understood the drive for a 3D GUI on a computer.

      Haven't you ever seen Jurassic Park? When there's an emergency and you have to lock the doors, there's no more efficient way than flying through 3D space finding the right 3D box to click!

    • by Traa (158207)

      I'm all for a little skepticism, but don't let it get in the way of progress. 3D can be progress for the desktop and I'm convinced we will go there. My web browsing is not at all like interacting with printed media. Besides text, images and video I have tabs, links (portals), dynamically arranged resizable content, multiple overlapping windows, multiple monitors, taskbars, etc. A myriad of content is awkwardly laid out as flat planes in front or behind one another. Smells like 3D to me. Looks like we got st

  • Adobe Atmosphere (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbezorg (1263978) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:51PM (#25059359)
    Been there, done that. Got version 1.0 signed by the developers and it was fun while it lasted. http://www.adobe.com/products/atmosphere/ [adobe.com]
  • Why... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mhazen (144368) * on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:51PM (#25059365) Homepage

    ...must developers continue to inflict us with the 3D interface meme? Time and time again these "wouldn't it be cool if..." ideas turn out to be entirely crappy.

    Who wants hand gestures instead of a mouse? Someone who uses a computer for 10 seconds at a time on a conference stage.

    Who wants to have to wander around a rendered landscape to visit only the sites some software has chosen for them? My grandparents. No, wait, not even them.

    People need to quit wasting cash developing crappy ideas, and spend some time generating GOOD ideas to develop.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      People need to quit wasting cash developing crappy ideas, and spend some time generating GOOD ideas to develop.

      I know, I know! What about 3D websites?

      Oh wait.

    • by sowth (748135)

      I thought gestures were designed for PDAs which used a stylus, not a mouse. I haven't kept up with the times, but a hand gesture thing would have it's place, even if everybody doesn't use it. Not everyone is the same and has the same needs. Even the same people will have different needs at different times. As for this browser, it looks crappy and stupid, but then you could say that about most things when they first came out: Linux, MS Windows (okay, still crappy), computers, cars (ever drive a Model T? I ha

      • I thought gestures were designed for PDAs which used a stylus, not a mouse.

        Think wireless gyro mouse.

    • by dzfoo (772245)

      >> ...must developers continue to inflict us with the 3D interface meme?

      Actually, it's not so much developers as it is marketers.

      My guess is that anything that can enhance the delivery of advertisements (think uncontrollably animated pictures!) is Teh Futuer to them.

              -dZ.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:54PM (#25059417)

    Look forward to pop-ups!

  • That the first website to support this technology will be a porn site? It will be finished in 3...2...1...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Actually, I'm expecting it to be a rickroll.

      "Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you go"
      What the heck? I'm stuck in the website!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228)
        Oh,that actually wouldn't be that bad. Now on the other hand,can you imagine a 3D tubgirl? Or a 3D Goatse that was rigged with a zoom that sucked your face into where you would never want your face to ever go? Now THAT would be bad. And I don't even want to think about the possibility of a 3D 2 girls 1 cup(shudders).
  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @01:56PM (#25059457) Journal

    I've always wondered-- what's the point of aiming for the 3D "social" browser anymore? It was tried, tested and failed in the late 90s / early 2000s. I remember trying out several in-browser (read: Flash or Java) 3D avatar-based chat sites. They were all universally crappy, but that seems to be a limitation of the technology. Or rather, it seems to be a limitation of attempting to use the incorrect technology when perfectly good ones already exist.

    There exists, right now, several extremely successful 3D social environments that create virtual worlds for people to meet and greet in. Take WoW, for example. The interface is (compared to a kludgy browser interface) extremely easy to use. The chat features are fairly extensive. The world is massive, somewhat customizable, and very scenic. Oh, and there's a game to go with it, too. On the other side of the same coin, SecondLife has a large "social chat" following. The graphics aren't exactly WoW-level, but they meet or exceed any expectations one would have had of a browser-3D world. It is also far more customizable that WoW.

    I'm certain anyone here on /. can (and most likely will) point out other 3D games / social experiments that also foot the bill

    I think that what these interfaces have over the browser is that they are natural 3D. Their interfaces always were and always will be designed around 3D technology-- while a brower's main design is displaying marked-up data in a two dimensional, fairly linear (and asynchronous) manner. You can argue that you can easily put a 3D widget in there to interpret that markup language, and display it in a plug-in... but all what you've done is wrapped the problem in several layers when it didn't need to be. The plug-in can function much better outside the browser than in, and you don't have to wrap the client-server communications inside HTML or XML or whatever else you chose to send through the browser.

    • by perdera (1175261) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:25PM (#25059949)

      There exists, right now, several extremely successful 3D social environments that create virtual worlds for people to meet and greet in. Take WoW, for example. The interface is (compared to a kludgy browser interface) extremely easy to use. The chat features are fairly extensive. The world is massive, somewhat customizable, and very scenic. Oh, and there's a game to go with it, too. On the other side of the same coin, SecondLife has a large "social chat" following. The graphics aren't exactly WoW-level, but they meet or exceed any expectations one would have had of a browser-3D world. It is also far more customizable that WoW.

      Great, I can't wait to take a 20 minute bat flight from slashdot.org to cnn.com...

      /global WTB port to cnn!!!

  • by clang_jangle (975789) * on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:01PM (#25059545) Journal
    ...for a browser that renders genuine 3d solid objects, so I can code all my sites to literally slap everyone still using IE. But other than that, I don't care about "3d" on a computer.
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:02PM (#25059561) Homepage Journal

    I was told no Mac version is planned, but may come into the picture if there's enough of a demand.

    There won't be any demand, even from Windows users.

  • Reminds me of Sun's Project Wonderland.

    Project Wonderland:
    Collaborative Environments Project at Sun Microsystems

    http://www.leadingvirtually.com/?p=62 [leadingvirtually.com]

    https://lg3d-wonderland.dev.java.net/ [java.net]

    Project Wonderland relies on the following open source projects for key technologies.

    Project Darkstar - provides the scalable, persistant server software infrastructure

    jVoiceBridge - provides realtime immersive stereo audio with distance attenuation

    Java 3D - provides the scene graph on which the 3D world and scene manager is

  • but not for speed. most of the time we need speedy interaction on the web, be it business or other stuff. spending time with 3d stuff are only possible when going for entertainment.
  • 1996 called (Score:5, Funny)

    by barzok (26681) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:19PM (#25059857)

    It wants its VRML back.

  • by Zerth (26112) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:48PM (#25060333)

    Stuff like Snoswell's cyberterm environment were much cooler the first time around. This is just the same old "tack a 3d setting on to fundamentally 2d data for no good reason" like html-to-vrml browsers. You want social browsing, add a freaking IRC client to your browser that autojoins rooms named after the url.

    Either break entirely and do something new that requires 3d to interact with data that can not be properly represented in 2d, or integrate the third dimension in a non-obtrusive yet useful manner. Photos(currently a 2d medium) and the photosynth point cloud(3d) is decent example of the latter. If I could think of a good example of the former, I'd make it:)

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:56PM (#25060479) Homepage

    Nobody likes 3D more than me ... but I think somebody doesn't understand the web too well.

    Anything which:

    a) Makes pages slow to load
    b) Needs special plugins and graphics driver
    c) Makes web pages really hard to make
    d) Doesn't bring more useful info to the user ...is doomed to fail.

    This thing ticks all four boxes.

    3D web sites have been tried dozens of times before but how many 3D web sites do you know of? None.

    • by dzfoo (772245)

      >> Nobody likes 3D more than me ...

      Ah! Congratulations! So it was you who won that survey?

            -dZ.

  • 3D Browsers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:58PM (#25060537) Journal
    Why is it that every time someone makes a 3D browser they insist it is the worlds first 3D browser? Maybe there are some trivial changes, but they have been out for ages. I remember ViOS or something like that from almost 10 years ago. It was supposed to be this revolutionary 3D internet/browser thing.
  • by argent (18001) <[moc.agnorat.6002.todhsals] [ta] [retep]> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @03:06PM (#25060659) Homepage Journal

    It's a 3d chat system that opens web pages in Internet Explorer when you click on the doors of buildings with names like "Fox News". And it's not even really a 3d chat system. The chat is a conventional-looking instant messenger window in the corner of the screen (in a separate top level window) and doesn't seem to have any relationship to where you are in the 3d view... which is probably a good thing: while I was in there I saw precisely one other person, until they started to move, whereupon they disappeared.

    No user created content, or any hint of user-created content.

    They were hinting that they were willing to pay for playtesters while I was testing it.

  • I think MS Bob promised to do that. It also failed miserably.
  • That one scene in Iron Man where he's building the next version of his suit. He's got himself that neato 3d CAD program. Been a long time since I did any technical drawings so I can't comment on how useful it would actually be but it looked damn cool.

    But for the web? Nah. Not practical or useful. The only thing I can see being remotely 3d'ish would be a representation of the webs pathing. However that's stretching it by a lot and still not even needed.

    Sounds to me like someone only has a '3d hammer' s

  • If I'm going to be in a 3D web for as much time as I currently spend on the web, I'd like it to be immersive, stereo goggles required. And no, I shouldn't be able to customize the decorations of the site I'm in. That would be like walking into every store and having them all look exactly the same.

    Oh, and I called it first: in a 3D web, you'll find things IN the web, not ON the web :D

    --Rob

  • by ACMENEWSLLC (940904) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @04:16PM (#25061801) Homepage

    Really, this is all Second Life is. A 3D World Wide Web. Realms are handled by different servers. You can go to Dell or PG and see 3D models of their products. When I want to chat with tech support, I *could* go to the Dell store and do a voice chat with the Dell support guy (If they had support manning their page.) The voice chat in Second Life is pretty neat.

    There are plenty of people who have products for sell in Second life. They are displayed in 2D on walls in some places, but most have the actual product sitting there on the floor which you can try before you buy.

    In the past, there has been a 3D weather room where you could watch the radar in 3D. That's down last I checked.

    RADAR is something that would truly shine in 3D. Not only see an X/Y view of where the jet is, but also Z with Z being altitude. If we had a 3D display too that would even be better.

    I think this is something that once you start using it, like dual monitors, you really see why it's so much better. You'll find easier ways to do your work. Especially if I have better than 1024x768 graphics. If I could scroll certain windows into my systems into the background with high resolution, I could keep them in my peripheral and switch to them when I see something alerting.

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