Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Graphics Mozilla

Google Brings 3D To Web With Open Source Plugin 191

Posted by timothy
from the linux-users-see-these-instructions dept.
maxheadroom writes "Google has released an open source browser plugin that provides a JavaScript API for displaying 3D graphics in web content. Google hopes that the project will promote experimentation and help advance a collaborative effort with the Khronos Group and Mozilla to create open standards for 3D on the web. Google's plugin offers its own retained-mode graphics API, called O3D, which takes a different approach from a similar browser plugin created by Mozilla. Google's plugin is cross-platform compatible and works with several browsers. In an interview with Ars Technica, Google product manager Henry Bridge and engineering director Matt Papakipos say that Google's API will eventually converge with Mozilla's as the technology matures. The search giant hopes to bring programs like SketchUp and Google Earth to the browser space."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Brings 3D To Web With Open Source Plugin

Comments Filter:
  • vrml (Score:5, Interesting)

    by colmore (56499) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:02PM (#27667823) Journal

    So was there ever a single useful thing done in vrml?

    I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm really curious.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by stevenvi (779021)

      I once saw a 3D model of the Dopefish [dopefish.com]. It was neat. 3D graphics on my computer on the Internet! What'll they think of next?

      Jumping ahead decade and a half... looks like it's just a competitor to Flash. Something else to make my computer run slower than my 486 did as I tried to execute Java applets back in '96...

      • competitor to flash? mayhaps... but im more libel to think an overt stab at dx, cue DirectX for The Web(TM)!
    • by dominux (731134)
      I did some data visualisation stuff in a 3d grid with spheres of varying diameter and colour, skunkworks really, just for fun, and to learn some VRML. Showed it to the customer who was getting the database being visualised as a free bonus bit of functionality. They hated it with a passion and asked never to see it again. Odd reaction, but there you go.
    • Re:vrml (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Unending (1164935) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:33PM (#27668201)

      There are things I would like to see in 3D and I do think the capability to embed 3D objects is a useful step.
      Off the top of my head:
      -google earth in a browser.
      -games are always a target for tech like this.
      -any sort of 3d visualization of data that would benefit from non static viewing.

      That said I disagree with how they made this, conceptually I prefer the 3D context for the canvas tag.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mirshafie (1029876)

        There are already proprietary applications for viewing 3D objects in browsers. These are useful for certain lines of work, such as displaying CAD models. I don't think the industrial companies that use these technologies will be the first to adopt open standards, but it might be a useful tool for smaller design houses.

        As you wrote, online game designers will probably be all over this, and their ability to generate revenue should not be underestimated.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        -google earth in a browser.
        -games are always a target for tech like this.
        -any sort of 3d visualization of data that would benefit from non static viewing.

        OK, why would any of those be better in the browser instead of as a native application?

        • by Unending (1164935)

          Accessibility, whether real or perceived.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mikael (484)

          Because you can embed the images in another webpage - just like youtube videos.

          You don't have to bother about with unpacking zip files, rpm's, tar's, .run files, especially when you don't have admin permissions on the host machine.

          Also, you won't start up your application one day, and read the message "This version is no longer supported. Please exit and upgrade to uber-version X.Y.Z".

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Because you can embed the images in another webpage - just like youtube videos.

            Compare Youtube videos to a native video player, the native option is much better.

            You don't have to bother about with unpacking zip files, rpm's, tar's, .run files, especially when you don't have admin permissions on the host machine.

            That's what self extracting installers are for, and you should be able to install to your home directory. If not, that's a packaging issue that's easy to deal with.

            Also, you won't start up your appl

            • Re:vrml (Score:5, Insightful)

              by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @09:11PM (#27669897) Journal

              Compare Youtube videos to a native video player, the native option is much better.

              Mostly because YouTube is based on Flash, and there currently aren't any major video sites using the video tag. I'd suggest that the video tag would be much better.

              That's what self extracting installers are for, and you should be able to install to your home directory. If not, that's a packaging issue that's easy to deal with.

              Unless they've also locked it down with something like noexec.

              there's nothing stopping an app from being self updating.

              True, but autoupdate is one of many things a browser / web-based application gives you "for free".

              Another one is navigation. No reason a native app can't have hyperlinks back/forward buttons, and history, but why reinvent the wheel?

              Another is extensibility. Without really doing much, you're probably still allowing people to write Greasemonkey scripts for your app.

              Another is the refresh button. Complete reboot + autoupdate all in one.

              Another is extreme portability -- native players may be better than YouTube, but it's difficult finding a machine that won't play YouTube out of the box. VLC isn't a terribly big download, but it's still an inconvenience, especially on machines where such things aren't allowed.

              Another is security. Trusting one plugin to add 3D support is considerably safer than trusting every single application you might want to download that might want to render 3D. The browser is necessarily a sandbox, which means you don't have to set up a more complex one (like a chroot or a virtual machine).

              The list goes on. You may not like the platform, but there are advantages to having an open standard portable platform. In fact, the browser is fulfilling the promise of Java so many years ago -- compile once, run anywhere.

              I would say, if you don't like doing everything in the browser, and there's a specific reason you don't like it, improve it. That's what happened here, I'm sure -- Google doesn't like doing Google Earth in the browser, because the browser has no 3D. So they've improved the browser.

        • Re:vrml (Score:5, Informative)

          by lahvak (69490) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:35PM (#27668875) Homepage Journal

          So that I don't have to make my multivariable calculus students download and install new applications on their computers, so that I don't have to convince the IT folks at our school to install bunch of new applications that only a handful of students will use in the labs and classrooms, and I don't have to find an application that would run on all of my students' computers, whichever OS they use, the labs that mostly run windows, and my linux laptop.

        • Re:vrml (Score:5, Informative)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @09:15PM (#27669945) Homepage Journal

          OK, why would any of those be better in the browser instead of as a native application?

          No install, cross-platform.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by gzipped_tar (1151931)
          Better integration with Google's advertisement services.
          • by Fred_A (10934)

            Better integration with Google's advertisement services.

            I can't wait for 3D/VRML ads. Hitting that monkey is going to be a real challenge now !

      • by hannson (1369413)

        Additionally, everything 3d made with flash and possibly also for accelerated 2d graphics.

      • As I mentioned in another forum I can see home improvement and DIY sites using this technology. Not to mention educational and science sites. As for Google earth, it could simply be a different way to look at the web.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        He asked for something useful.

        Contrary to popular belief NOT EVERYTHING SHOULD BE DONE IN A FUCKING BROWSER.

      • > Google earth in a browser

        They have that: http://code.google.com/apis/earth/ [google.com]
    • by popo (107611)

      I'm not trying to snarky either, I'm really serious:

      No.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lahvak (69490)

      Actually, there are many really cool mathematical visualizations done in VRML. The main problem with VRML was, imho, that the plugins were really clunky and never really worked that well. In fact, at the time VRML was introduced, the whole plugin architecture in most browsers was pretty simple, and even installing plugins was not easy. Finding, dowloading and installing a VRML plugin wasn't any easier than installing a standalone application for 3D, and the application probably had better functionality.

      I

    • I did some work as an undergrad rendering complex molecules for the physics department at my school, had it exported to vrml, and placed on the website of the research project.

      I'm not sure if that's "useful." Visualizing the molecules was, but that can be done in other software. Placing it on the web, well at the time they thought it was going to be useful, but it's no longer on their website, so they probably decided it wasn't :)

    • Molecular models.
      • Funny you should say that. There are other plugins for viewing molecular models, including CHIME and Jmol. I would recommend Jmol.

        But, yeah, if you've got a molecular model built in VRML for some reason (rather than a standard molecular format), you can share that with people.

        I build molecular and other kinds of models for customers and demonstrate them via VRML before having them physically "printed". Specialty need, really. Any 3D format (that can nicely render point clouds) would do. I look forward

    • NASA had a 3d model of the International Space Station in VRML that you could fly through. I can only find it via CNN now. http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/multimedia/vrml/iss/ [cnn.com] Neat stuff in 1998.

  • We can hope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) *

    Maybe Google will make a game engine that doesn't suck next.

  • Ugh. Again. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gricey (154787)

    The 3d web doesn't work. What "problem" are they trying to fix? That's the main reason it keeps failing.

      -- incubus

    • Re:Ugh. Again. (Score:5, Informative)

      by aristotle-dude (626586) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:12PM (#27667949)

      The 3d web doesn't work. What "problem" are they trying to fix? That's the main reason it keeps failing.

      -- incubus

      I know that this is slashdot but did you not read the summary? This could allow for Google Earth to function in a similar way to how Microsoft virtual earth 3D does within IE without need for a fat client on the desktop. The main difference would be that it would be more open and cross platform/browser compatible.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        This could allow for Google Earth to function in a similar way to how Microsoft virtual earth 3D does within IE without need for a fat client on the desktop.

        So the benefits are:

        1) Google Earth displays in a browser window. Was it really so hard to manage two separate windows?

        2) Instead of a fat client on the desktop, you get a fat plugin in your browser.

        I'm not seeing how this is filling a need.

        • 2) Instead of a fat client on the desktop, you get a fat plugin in your browser.

          For one thing, you get a single general-purpose plug-in instead of a separate one for each different 3D web application you want to use. For another thing, if it's a standard then it can be implemented as part of the base functionality of the browser, and not need a plug-in at all.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            The whole google earth application is going to be shoehorned into the browser one way or another. The 3d support part of it might be reusable, but that's a small part of the whole application. If it's not a "Google Earth" specific plugin that you have to download and install, then it's going to be loaded every time you hit the page. That's worse than a native application.

        • by Atzanteol (99067)
          Because you lack vision does not mean a use does not exist. Think a furniture site that lets you build and walkthrough your home. Or Ticketmaster having a 3D representation of stadiums. I'm sure there are many other ideas as well but I'm not stupid enough to think that "if I can't think of them then they don't exist."
      • by dunng808 (448849)

        From the summary, "Google's plugin is cross-platform compatible ..."

        On the Google site I see Windows and OS-X well represented, then a whisp of a suggestion about 32-bit Linux, then nothing for FreeBSD. This does not qualify as cross-platform, not anymore.

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          From the summary, "Google's plugin is cross-platform compatible ..."

          On the Google site I see Windows and OS-X well represented, then a whisp of a suggestion about 32-bit Linux, then nothing for FreeBSD. This does not qualify as cross-platform, not anymore.

          Not to mention OS/2 and BeOS !
          (yes I run Linux too, and so does Google, and I understand they cater to the masses.)

          Hopefully this time they wrote their code with a little portability in mind...

      • Yep. And Google Earth *might* even become the future of home pages, if people keep geotagging their content when they put it online, so that it makes sense to highlight hotspots which are relevant to your search etc.

      • We can already do that: with Java.

        Yes, those pesky little applets. The secret? The new "Consumer" JRE - take 90% of the space of the old one and startup time is 200 ms. Want to use j3d? Boom - you can fast. Want to craft a MQ PAS message to talk to that crusty IBM mainframe? Boom, you can, in a browser.

    • The 3d web doesn't work.

      The 3D web worked fine with VRML (and continued to work fine with X3D, AFAIK.) The problem is that no one really had any work for it to do.

    • The 3d web doesn't work. What "problem" are they trying to fix? That's the main reason it keeps failing.

      Going from 2d to 3d is the hard part.

      This is really just an early precursor for a 10d plugin, which will be implemented on a quantum computer.

      Why do you think quantum computing researchers are so obsessed with entanglement?

      It's much easier to run multiple threads in all those extra dimensions, so the smoother performance from the enhanced browser will be the first useful application of superstring theory.

      (What's scary is that in ten years, professional tech and science journalism will look just like this po

  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:04PM (#27667843) Homepage Journal

    goatse will be worth looking at~

  • Show some respect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:14PM (#27667979)

    I give Google credit for creating open source software, but I'm personally getting tired of the half implementation for Linux. I mean here is a company who has used Linux as the foundation for their internal use and they can't even muster up a deb or rpm package for their product, let alone 64 bit Linux support. Wtf Google.

    Show some respect to the community.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Most OSS projects don't offer precompiled RPMs or DEBs. Its much easier to outsource it to the distro managers who can better add it into the next release. Think about it this way, you offer a DEB for Ubuntu, that DEB gets installed on a Debian based system that isn't Ubuntu... Unfortunately, it doesn't really resolve dependencies nicely and it requires either A) A newer version of a library B) Some obscure library that doesn't have an easy to use DEB thus killing the entire point C) Dependencies that depen
  • All of this is all well and good, but I'm holding out for a 3D interface, something that can really take advantage and create true 3D rather than depth to what is essentially still a 2D image no matter how many polygons you throw at it.
  • by daemonburrito (1026186) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:46PM (#27668341) Journal

    ffs!

    Javascript. API. OpenGL.

    • by sl3xd (111641) *

      But there is a certain similarity: VRML plugins often used OpenGL to render the 3D content; and the idea seems very similar - have 3D content on the web.

      • Yeah, you're right. After reading the overview, it appears that this is totally different than Mozilla's idea (who are also contributing to the Khronos initiative).

        Mozilla's approach is a much better idea...

    • Don't mod me up! I was wrong, wrong, wrong!

  • SVG (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpaceToast (974230) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:50PM (#27668387) Homepage Journal

    Speaking as an animator and web developer, I'd rather see this effort on the part of Google and Mozilla put into 3D SVG. It would eliminate the need for yet another plugin, allow direct DOM access, and facilitate the mixing of 3d with other page elements.

    Or maybe I just want Lain's web experience...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Isn't this trying to open the path for that? If they can get the API down pat with the plugin, and leave it open enough to replace the plugin with built-in functionality, it'll do exactly what you want, quicker, and with cross-browser compatibility.

    • by BZ (40346)

      Honestly, the XML-and-DOM part of SVG is a significant performance drag. If you want high-performance 3d graphics, you do NOT want to be maintaining a DOM for the whole thing...

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Hrrm, compare the DOM to a scene graph, makes a little more sense than you realize.

        The DOM really isn't that big of a deal, its going to exist in some form or another regardless of what you call it. Just because you are used to browsers with shitty DOM implementations doesn't mean the concept is flawed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BZ (40346)

          I meant specifically the object-heavy DOM API required by SVG, where everything in sight is an object, including things that would be better off as strings (the .href of an , for example, just in case you want to use SMIL to animate that; same thing for .className on all SVG elements). Oh, except you have to also provide it all in string form for the Core DOM APIs.

          Having personally worked on a browser DOM implementation and done a fair amount of black-box testing of three other browse DOM implementations,

    • As someone who is using SVG as a basis for a rather large system at the moment, what do you use as an SVG editor. I personally use a combination of Illustrator and Sketsa for most of my work, with a lot of the final tweaks done by hand as they both suck when dealing with text and things like flowRoots. Neither do animation for crap, so I'm curious as to what you use for creation of SVGs on a regular basis.

      I love the format, but the amount of time I spend editing in a text editor tweaking things is gettin

    • by grumbel (592662)

      SVG is already troublesome enough as is, no need to bloat it into insanity with 3d crap.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:52PM (#27668409)
    Since the dawn of computer communications, there has always been a single valid answer to that question: porn.
  • by moogord (904702) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:54PM (#27668431)

    Remeber - its a neat little tag that is really quite powerful in the right hands, everything supports it but internet explorer, google made a plugin for IE but still no website uses canvas because you can't ignore the fact that no IE user has it (until HTML 5 if IE stays standards complient).

    I would *love* opengl ES like 3d rendering in javascript, with a fast enough javascript engine you could do some great things, at the last you could make fluid websites without the need for a flash plugin eating up cpu... but alas i feel this is doomed to the same fate as our old google canvas plugin for IE.

  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:56PM (#27668471)

    I just need a good 3D model of a 1953 Martian War Machine.

  • ..blows this away... (imho, of course)

    This engine isn't close to being ready for prime time yet.

  • Without clipping, demos like the island are basically useless.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@@@justconnected...net> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:30PM (#27668835)

    This, and the canvas/video tag (if implemented widely) and fast Javascript (V8/Spidermonkey) will kill flash.

    Flat out kill it. It might take a little while, but before long it will die out as soon as comparable dev tools pop up (and they will, because it's open).

    I have a feeling this will be big - not XMLHttpRequest big, but not too far off. Need proof that this will succeed? Look at the hacky ways this has been done - Javascript raytracers, animated GIFs, writing software renderers in Flash - and tell me that people won't utilize a proper alternative when it arises.

    • by spyrral (162842) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:53PM (#27669745) Journal

      Why would you want to kill Flash? Flash is great:

      * Large install base with very fast uptake on new versions.
      * Great IDE, large ecosystem of code, developers and tools.
      * Easy streaming of HD video to the browser.
      * Great communication server, video chat is an example level project.
      * Small file size for the plugin, support for Window, OS X and Linux.

      Other then being open, what would your hodgepodge collection of technologies and tools offer over Flash?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Endymion (12816)

        Because it's performance blows on non-standard platforms? Because it's lack of support for 64-bit (well, last I checked) is a pain in the ass? Because it's a constant source of memory leaks and segfaults?

        The day I can get rid of that stupid plugin will be a day I celebrate a lot.

        • They released an alpha of Flash 10 for 64-bit Linux systems in February. Unsure of progress but it's a start...

        • by spyrral (162842)

          Flash works for the purpose it's built for, for the audience it's designed for, and it works well. That's what my post said and your reply has no relevance to it.

          • by Zebedeu (739988)

            I disagree.

            Flash is a hack, works like a hack and has the performance to match.

            For instance:
            1. Right-clicking a Flash object doesn't work consistently with other browser functions
            2. If the Flash object has focus, normal browser shortcuts don't work (ctrl-t for a new tab, etc)
            3. You can't search text inside Flash, at least not using the browser text search functionality
            4. Flash movies and animations are horribly inefficient, even in Flash's main platform, Windows
            5. Flash is traditionally much less stable tha

      • by BZ (40346)

        > * Large install base with very fast uptake on new versions.

        Fast uptake? Or do you mean "major versions" as opposed to security fixes? Flash uptake for security fixes is terrible.

        > * Small file size for the plugin, support for Window, OS X and Linux.

        Sort of. 64-bit support is not so great. Support is not at all the same across all three of Windows, OS X, Linux (e.g. windowless mode took its sweet time coming to all three).

        You forgot some negatives:

        * Unstable (something like 30% of the crashes log

      • by scribblej (195445)

        "Other than being open."

        "Other than that, Ms. Lincoln, how was the play?"

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why would you want to kill Flash? Flash is great:

        * Easy streaming of HD video to the browser.

        Sure thing... except that one can't use Flash to play back smooth fullscreen HD video on my desktop system when it's running Windows. Moreover, decoding that HD stream uses ~95% CPU when in "windowed mode".
        My system specs and software load for Windows (or Linux):
        * Windows Server 2k3 (or Unstable Gentoo Linux)
        * Firefox 3.0.1 (or Firefox 3.0.8)
        * Flash 10.0 r22 [installed just a minute ago] (or Flash 10.0.22.87)
        * AGP R400 [AKA Radeon x850] with Catalyst 8.something (or xf86-video-ati 6.12.2)
        * 2GB DDR1 @ 400Mhz

  • the comet CHAIR-R51 is in route collision with planet earth!

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:58PM (#27669791) Homepage Journal

    Google's main 3D project is SketchUp, an easy 3D modeling studio. But it's not available for Linux. And it runs crappy, if at all, in WINE. It's also nearly the only way (other than a really tricky multi-app process with Blender) to import 3D buildings into Google Earth. Which means that without a Linux SketchUp, it's nearly impossible to get Google Earth to place the buildings properly (it requires IPC which doesn't work with SketchUp running within WINE).

    So if Google is going to spend programmer hours bringing 3D to the masses, how about finishing bringing SketchUp to Linux already?

  • by thekm (622569)
    Unsure how well this will go, maybe it'll work just because it's google. But there was an *awesome* 3D plugin ages ago called Metastream. It was by the group that made Kai's Power Tools (the first set of photoshop plugins that really got the plugins thing moving along). What made it awesome was that you could model the one model with as much detail as you wanted and then export it for Metastream. In the webpage you could just call the server and say that you wanted a little low-res version to show as a thum
  • I'm starting a totally new app that is (hopefully) going to use OpenGL for the display. Not full 3D, but I kind of want the fancy blending features. The problem is the last time I used OpenGL was... a VERY long time ago. It seems to have changed substantially sense then.

    I'm totally out of the loop, though, as far as graphics programming goes, so... does anybody know of a decent source for discussion, tutorials, docs, anything on doing modern OpenGL the "right way"? Seeing as this project is starting from sc

  • its a stupid idea now.

    Much like flash this is another retarded thing to add to websites that stupid managers and shitty web developers will put on pages when they don't have any real content.

  • I'm really glad this is finally happening. I was just thinking the other day that Flash hadn't really made the internet annoying enough. Now we can enjoy 3D websites with tiny fonts, swirling graphics, and no content.

    I understand the potential usefulness of this, I really do. However, I shudder at the inevitable trends in web development that will further abuse the notion of usability.
  • 3D Web Applications (Score:2, Interesting)

    by megaheda (1538277)
    If you build it, they will come... real 3D web applications, that is. They're heeerree, or at least they will be.

    People claim that there are no real applications for web 3D. Humbug. Here's just a tiny subset without even trying. No, 3D isn't the solution for everything, but it's the solution for enough things.

    Phase 1: Niche 3D apps move to the web
    It'll start with the niche applications that are already 3D moving onto the web - CAD, architectural walkthroughs, collaborative design etc. A light ver
  • How long until we have a 3D compositing window manager for our in-browser desktops?

    (Nearly 20 years of hardware and software improvements, and the pinnacle of our achievements is exactly what we started with [nihilogic.dk], but slower. With all the effort that's gone into making javascript fast, wouldn't it have been easier to make downloading random binaries from the internet safe?)

    • Nearly 20 years of hardware and software improvements, and the pinnacle of our achievements is exactly what we started with, but slower.

      well, yes, you're right. but that's because of microsoft and proprietary software. if they didn't have a monopoly, we would have seen things like this running a lot earlier.

  • Silverlight definitely has 3D APIs today (and yes, accessible from JS, too), and I bet its marketshare, though miniscule compared to Flash, will dwarf that of Google plugin anyway - and, with Windows Update as a distribution channel, will keep doing that. Also, I don't know much about Flash development, but doesn't it have some 3D APIs, too? If yes, then this thing is pretty much stillborn.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.

Working...