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Three 3D Web Browsers Reviewed 237

mikemuch writes "Use that graphics card for something besides games. ExtremeTech has a group review of three browsers that use some aspect of 3D to display the Web. While none of them are going to put Firefox or IE out of business any time soon, they're fun to play with and give a new slant to the Web." From the article: "Whatever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the Web? Back in the late '90s, all the hype was about VRML -- Virtual Reality Markup Language -- which would turn the web into an immersive environment that you'd maneuver around to get to the information you wanted. We're here to tell you that the reports of the 3D Web's death are greatly exaggerated."
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Three 3D Web Browsers Reviewed

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  • Not dead (Score:5, Funny)

    by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:38PM (#15506240) Journal
    But still completely useless and unneeded
    • Re:Not dead (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Agreed. The ones that angle, shrink, or otherwise distort the windows are the worst. What does it mean that a window is at an angle? Does that somehow help me? How is it more useful than a window being "behind" another window or "minimized"?

      About the only use I can see is for maps. So, for instance, you have a handheld device that could sense your position, and draw you an arrow in a 3D environment that looks identical to your physical environment, this would make map reading extremely easy. This would be e
    • Re:Not dead (Score:5, Funny)

      by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:45PM (#15506296)
      No way, dude. Boobs've gotta be WAY better in 3D.
    • Re:Not dead (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:55PM (#15506361)
      It is very much not dead. Look at any MMORPG or FPS. It's the internet and people are networked through a 3D world are they not? But outside of games getting information would actually be more difficult in a 3D world. The information you want is all 2D anyway, text, images, video, ect. It would cause lag, waste system resources and cause many other problems. For gaming, 3D worlds are very important and add to the realism and strategy involved. For gathering or sharing information a 2D world simply works better! Adding another dimension doesn't mean it's better. Thats like saying adding more salt to a recipe will make it taste better. Sounds good in theory until the final result is so salty you will want to throw up.

      *Notice I avoided (yet another) car reference*
    • Correction! (Score:3, Funny)

      by winkydink ( 650484 ) *
      We're here to tell you that the reports of the 3D Web are greatly exaggerated.
      • Well, I doubt it qualifies as 3D, but many years ago, at SIGGRAPH, I wrote down the website for an innovate browser.

        Picture a cube, then remove a side panel and look in.

        You have a 'main' panel in front of you, which can be tiled into 4/8/16 (maybe 32) mini-panels, each with a seperate web page or java applet.

        The other four sides are somewhat squished, but still present.

        Everything was accellerated by the graphics card and ideally, you'd use multiple monitors to display the panels around you.

        I'm not sure if t
    • Re:Not dead (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:16PM (#15506494) Homepage Journal
      It may be useless in its current incarnation, but that doesn't mean someone won't come up with a good way to use it as the technology matures.

      The main problem is that people have this nifty tool, but they keep applying it to bolt it onto an existing interface instead of really trying to create a new one. (And when they do try to create a new one, the drawbacks outweigh the advantages. I swear, these "airport/city" metaphors and the like remind me of nothing so much as Microsoft Bob.) It's like using advanced 3D graphics to render a console app -- in a hard-to-read font.

      Someone needs to figure out what a 3D display brings to the table, and build on that. Texture-mapping the 2D web onto the walls doesn't accomplish much.

      • Texture-mapping the 2D web onto the walls doesn't accomplish much.

        That's the problem with ALL of the 3D web-browsing/user-interface implementations right now. You use markup and controls that are designed to render onto a flat 2D raster surface. It seems logical to bundle an existing renderer (an IE/gecko control, or a UI toolkit window rendering) and point it at a texture, and then schlep that into a 3D framework... but that's just so completely wrong.

        At least for web browsing... if you want to make it 3D then you first need to WRITE a 3d renderer for XHTML. You need to figure out some way of interpreting the tags and markup and using 3d (or 3d accelerated algorithms) to do something intelligent with all that CSS and hints.

        You are going to need to at least have an antialiased glyph renderer for text. Either using real polygons or dynamically created texture maps (maybe a single mip-mapped texture for each character).
        Because on the web the most important thing to be able to have is LEGIBLY RENDERED TEXT.

        Maybe for the sake of keeping polycounts low you reserve the shape-defined text for h1/h2 tags and render the rest as rasters. But do something useful with them.

        Don't start putting textures containing text at oblique angles unless you've got it at least 2x oversampled. Instead, render it to a surface in a bounding box and "float" it where you want but keep it's normal pointed straight at the view frustrum. Or use a particle or sprite primitive.

        Come on people!

        Have a look at some demoscene demostrations and how they integrate text and 3d. I guarantee you can always read the text clearly (as it is often used to convey jokes or greetz). And that stuff is just for fun.

    • >But still completely useless and unneeded

      I recall that being the MS-DOS/PC response to all of those other systems that could display more than four colors.

    • I would agree, however VRML is nice in the engineering world where you want to export a solid model of something for a customer to view. They get a model they can rotate and look at which is nice, and it fits right in their web browser. One problem when we tried to implement this years ago was VRML support sucked with a capital K. Maybe it's coming around now, but it will be a day-late-and-a-dollar-short. A good portion of the CAD/CAM/CAE packages out their have implemented their own proprietary export
      • The problem is that VRML was based on a weird scenegraph approach with known limitations. I've got a consultant who sends me intricate VRML files witch will not convert and will not display in half the browsers available.

    • of course, they are trying to emulate a 3d experience in a 2d presentation. And typically, they are combining the worst of both worlds.

      a true 3d browser would be 3d in the real world.

      I remember data storage and presentation systems that performed exactly in this way. They were called "offices"

      Of course, if they was a practical way to do this, the porn industry would have done it a long time ago. then we would have 3d porn.

      3d Porn? yes, exactly like the real world, without any of those troublesome things

    • You, sir, are a true visionary.
  • by daybot ( 911557 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:39PM (#15506253)
    ...that 3D graphics have been used to display web data. Back in the early 90s, CompuServe had a virtual mall which was a bit like that. It was painfully slow; a real gimmick. I can't see any benefit beyond the gimmick for then, and now.
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:43PM (#15506279)
      > I can't see any benefit beyond the gimmick for then, and now.

      This missed opportunity to employ 3D web browsing technology has been brought to you by...

    • It was painfully slow; a real gimmick. I can't see any benefit beyond the gimmick for then, and now.

      These are probably, like many sites these days, counting on you having DSL, because any thing less to access these sites is going to crawl. One reason I despise Flash splash-pages is my dial-up access. It's so enjoyable twiddling your thumbs or playing a quick game of Minesweeper while waiting for crap to download which doesn't tell you anything Text couldn't.

      Then like now, the difference between gimm

    • I'd have to agry with you, it does seem "gimmicky". I am curious about studies in human computer interaction a 3d interfaces. 3d allows for more realistic interface metaphors, but can significantly complicate an interface, plus we don't have any 3d hardware. A mouse moves in 2 dimimensions (x and y coordinates only, no z or orientation information). Something like the polehemus fastrak [] would give six degrees of freedom and would allow you to interact with a 3d environment. I first saw the fastrak in a pape
      • A mouse moves in 2 dimimensions (x and y coordinates only, no z or orientation information)
        Actually, a wheelmouse can be used for rudimentary 3D navigation (usually, the wheel moves you forwards or backwards in whatever direction you are currently pointing, while mouse movement changes the orientation).
        • Using the wheel for the primary mode of movement is pretty clumsy.

          But, speaking of ways of 3D navigation people are really accustomed with... WSAD anyone?

          Back in the days, I once wrote a quick hack to visualise a 3D structure. Everyone had problems navigating around the view, until I changed it to something Descent-like (it was the only fully-3D game at the time, nothing else had 6 degrees of freedom).

          No matter whether it's a pretty web browser with bells and whistles or a crude tool for viewing a protein
          • But, speaking of ways of 3D navigation people are really accustomed with... WSAD anyone?

            Back in the days, I once wrote a quick hack to visualise a 3D structure. Everyone had problems navigating around the view, until I changed it to something Descent-like (it was the only fully-3D game at the time, nothing else had 6 degrees of freedom).

            I made something similar for browsing code, showing functions as spheres and function calls as pipes between them. It was not useful in the end, but I did spend a lot of ti
    • Yes, but if it works we can all put on VR headsets and wave our hands around in the air like Keanu Reeves in Johnny Mnemonic.
  • Smells Like Hype (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:41PM (#15506265) Homepage Journal

    My first thought was VRML and what a clunky thing that was before it all but vanished. I've still got books and CD's for doing stuff in it, in a box somewhere, probably in the car-port.

    Not really what I had in mind when I thought about what would make for decent 3D browsing. This looks like something you could knock off in a plug-in, like Flash. Probably has some decent uses, like creating a game on your own website or a Realtor giving you a VR tour of a house (which i think someone nearby already has.) Handy for exploring a Mall, to see where a shop is rather than looking at those little hand-bills which are sometimes so artsy-fartsy you just try to go in the general direction and hope you find it. Hope people keep these sites updated. More content==more overhead for maintenance.

    • Do you know if any browsers still use VRML?

      I want to learn it. I think the technology is alot like Java. It sucked in the 90's for anything besides simple chat apps but now with more ram and fast processors its not a big deal.

      vrml should fly and be smooth with any decent graphics card. Hell google maps with 3d buildings turned on runs fine with my semi 3d intel integrated graphics chip on my laptop. The same should be true with my desktop with my geforce 6600.

  • Second Life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Unoti ( 731964 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:43PM (#15506281) Journal
    Second Life is a sort of 3D web browser. To me, Second Life is everything I envisioned and more when I first heard about VRML.
    • Re:Second Life (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Hannah E. Davis ( 870669 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:54PM (#15506356) Journal
      I've only tried Second Life for a few hours, but I agree with you there. Unfortunately, it's still very difficult to navigate and otherwise interact with -- at least compared to the web as we know it today. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a fully 3D web, but I'm not willing to sacrifice functionality to get it.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a fully 3D web, but I'm not willing to sacrifice functionality to get it."

        And yet people interact with full functionality every time they play a multiplayer (FPS,RTS,etc) game. The main difference between the web and games is the size of the world.
        • It's also the user-created content. A FPS is designed by professionals who, at least in theory, have the same goals in mind, and easy, consistent navigation is usually one of those goals. Second Life is an example of something that has been slapped together by a wide variety of people, all of whom have different goals and inspirations. In a 3D web, we would certainly have professionally made web environments, but to get to them we may have to stumble through the three dimensional equivalent of a 13-year-
        • The main difference between the web and games is the size of the world.

          Actually, I'd say the main difference between the web and games is the type of interaction.

          Most of the web is like a simulated library. It's generally about obtaining, providing, or exchanging information, whether it's reading an encyclopedia article, sending an order to a store, or watching your friend's latest video post on MySpace.

          Games are generally about simulating a type of activity -- sports, combat, puzzle-solving, etc.

          You can gr
          • For that matter, a 3d interface isn't usually the best way to access information in real life either. I don't page through dictionaries anymore because it's quicker to look words up on the web. Picking up books and moving them around and taking notes is a lot of work! It's usually a lot faster to shuffle information around on a computer, precisely because it dispenses with real life's 3d interface, and all the baggage that comes with it. 2d interfaces are pretty problematic too, I might add. Having to deal
    • Second Life is a sort of 3D web browser.

      So is first life.

      -Grey []
    • The problem with Second Life is it aint gonna work with current hardware - anything less than a dual core 64bit and you might as well not bother because your framerate will suck.

      I suspect it's just poor implementation - the 3d in something like WoW or FFXI is *far* more immersive than second life because it renders at full frame rate and has lots of detail (and there's more to do - nothing much to do in second life but walk/fly around and chat to people). The engine looks like something done 5-6 years ago,
    • The X3D people would have some bones to pick with that.
    • what are you talking about? second life is simply a very good way of getting people to shell out money for absolutely nothing. Paying upwaards of $1000+ dollars for a chunk of virtual space to build ($$$ to build, oh and to upload it costs $$$ matter of fact anything but wandsering around like a bump costs $$$ in second life.)

      I wandered around in there for 1 week straight, everything you do costs you money. IRC has much more soul and fun in it than second life does. Hell if you weant to buy your own IRC
      • There is an advantage to second life.... Less kiddies and trolls

        That and the average age in 2ndlife is 35, iirc. And around half the users are actually chicks, like my wife, into the whole socializing & dress-up thing (but didn't latch on to The Sims for reason). Heard these stats from some Google/2ndlife podcast event a couple months back.

        I agree that 2ndlife sucks - not really because of the crappy graphics, but mostly because of the perverse "virtual economy" where almost everything costs you,

  • Second Life, that's what. It's everything we wanted from VRML/Cosmo.

    (Ok, maybe its not ubiquitous, and its a proprietary app, but still....)

  • by bunions ( 970377 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:52PM (#15506339)
    We need a decent ubiquitous 3D plugin for things like showing off stuff you can buy in 3D.

    We don't need a browser to show us a 3D representation of the web, because that is too much information. Hyperbolic mappings are not somehow more intuitive than simple lists. In fact, they are less so.

    When we get common 3D displays and controllers, then my position will change.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:53PM (#15506349)
    I can see the need for "visualisation". See, the step from command line to graphical interface surely did some good for people who can't be bothered to learn the commands. While this caused the influx of dimwits to the web, it certainly was something that faciliated the approach by heaps. The information can be presented in a way that is easier to understand.

    Now, 3D graphics on a 2D display is the opposite. Instead of presenting information in an easier understandable way, it obscures it. Basically, what we lack now is suitable interfaces. Input as well as output. The mouse is not the best way to navigate in a three dimensional world, neither is a non-stereo view the best display for it.

    My guess would be the new interface for Vista will face a similar fate.
  • 3D (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:54PM (#15506355) Homepage Journal
    Whatever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the Web?

    As long as the screen on my computer is 2D I don't think the 3D web will really take off. Now, if you can get me some cheap VR glasses and gloves, that's another matter.

    -Grey []
    • But the point of a 3d game isn't to convey information in a clear way. They aim to create an experience. We might as well add a "fog of war" to the web as well, and only display text near the cursor.
  • by graveyhead ( 210996 ) <> on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:55PM (#15506357)
    The best 3d web thing I've ever seen is Apple's dashboard widgets in OSX. Each widget can have a (nicely standardized) button which activates the preferences for the widget. The prefrences are on the back of the widget. Literally when you click the prefs button the widget flips over in 3d animation and you interact with the preference panel.

    I find this incredible because a) it's an amazing practical use of 3d and b) it's not at all flashy or trying to create a 'new 3d browsing paradigm' or some such silliness. Instead, Apple has used the graphics tools available to them and once again, made a fantastic advance in user interfaces.

    Before you call me an Apple fanboy, you should know that I don't even own a Mac, I just think they're neat is all.
    • it's not at all flashy
      What? What you just described was completely flashy and serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever.

      it's not [...] trying to create a 'new 3d browsing paradigm' or some such silliness
      So rather than making something more fuctional or doing something in a new, better way, you would instead just make things look like they are being done in a better way.
      • What? What you just described was completely flashy and serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever.

        Nonono it's not about the asthetic value (although it does look nice). What I mean is simply that flipping a card-like thing over is a concept that anyone can understand. Start talking about preference panels and property sheets and you'll make some peoples eyes cross. Flipping something over is a pretty universally understood concept. That's what makes a great user interface - intuitiveness.

        It is hi

      • What? What you just described was completely flashy and serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever.

        it ... uh, it's function is to display the property sheet for a widget. The property sheet's gotta be somewhere on the screen, on the 'back' of the window you're setting the properties for seems about as good a place as any other.

      • What? What you just described was completely flashy and serves absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever.

        Well, yeah, it doesn't have any "functional purpose", neither to almost all other interface things. Interfaces are not about adding functions, but about allowing you easier access to functions already there and adding preferences panels to the backside of a window seems like a good improvment, not earth shattering, but definitvly a good thing. Thats because it gives the preferences dialog a fixed posit

        • All these things can be done without needing to flip the widget. You want the settings window to appear in a constent spot? Just force window positions in the OS. That is essentially what they are doing with some graphics added.

          A bigger problem is the goal of having the same way to access settings etc. in a program. If the flipping technique is not possible with all application types, then it would be causing the user to learn two ways of accessing settings instead of one.

          I don't mean to sound critical
    • That's not 3D, that's just the back side of a 2D object.
      • Sort of. It uses 3D effects to make a traditional 2D interface better. Which is (one reason) why it's nice.
      • True, but thats kind of the point, all good uses of 3D in user interface design I have seen so far where basically just little additions to 2D, zooming interfaces/windows, drop shadows, rotating windows, etc. All of them leave the basic interface flat and only use the 3D emphasis things in that flat interface (the current focused window, give you a better overview by zooming out, etc.). Humans are really a lot better at flat stuff then full 3D, since with flat all that interface has a lot less room to go mi
    • I doown a mac, and have been using it for two years, and never realized this was new. Now that you mention it, it is briliant.
    • I always thought it would be neat if you could flip a program window over and view the source code.
    • I was going to dismiss Apple's use of 3D for Dashboard, since it's just a visual effect rather than an extra dimension, but realized a key aspect of it (I don't have the latest version of OS X so I've never seen it). A seeming equivalent would be to have the widget's window content replaced with the preferences UI elements when you clicked some button, without any 3D effect. But this wouldn't have real-world equivalent for the user to intuitively grasp, so it wouldn't be as natural to think about. By having
    • While it's a neat effect, it's not (nor is Exposé) really what I'd call a 3d interface, even if it does make use of the computer's 3d hardware to render it. The interface is still constrained to the same old flat plane. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you believe (as I do) that a 3d interface is pointless without 3d hardware to make use of it.
  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:00PM (#15506388)
    It is understandable that if your only tool is a hammer, every problem will look like a nail. However, when every problem is a nail, why the hell would you look for a screwdriver?
    • why the hell would you look for a screwdriver?
      Because you can hammer nails in with the butt end of a screwdriver.

      Then you can turn the screwdriver around, grasp the handle, and stab people who make bad analogies.

      BadAnalogyGuy, [] where are you?
  • Wii? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hannah E. Davis ( 870669 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:01PM (#15506394) Journal
    When I first heard about a web browser being put onto the Wii, it occurred to me that this would be an excellent opportunity to add some 3D capabilities to the web. The Wii has a pointer that can simulate a mouse, but the analog controller might actually make moving around a 3D environment to find information easier than surfing in any conventional fashion. I don't know about you guys, but I think it would be fun to fly around in a 3D information-laden room with the nunchuku firmly in hand, grabbing at relevent pieces with the wiimote.
  • by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:04PM (#15506422)
    I just had a horrible nightmare about flash ads going 3d....

    The extreme annoying-ness is too much for my feeble brain to handle.

    Imagine the most hyperactive ADD person you know.

    Now imagine them when they go into hyperactive mode that happens right before they need a nap.

    Now give them lots and lots of soda and candy.

    Now give them some crystal meth.

    This is half the annoying-ness of a 3d flash ad.
  • Already tried (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daeg ( 828071 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:06PM (#15506432)
    Microsoft already tried placing small items/thumbnails in a "3D" environment. It was called Microsoft Bob [] and it failed completely.
  • All these browsers attempt to show you a lot of pages in one go. Assuming you're after sites that deal with fashion, or games, or cookery, or music etc. in broad categories then there is a usefulness to be able to see a bunch of sites in one go. I know it would be useful to just wander through a hall of today's articles and simply click on a site that has something that interests you. The problem as the article highlights is that showing a bunch of sites simultaneously should not be at the expense of your r
  • Whatever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the Web?

    It required proprietary plugins that could just display crude 3D objects and pretty much nothing else. People abused 3D in the VRML days just like noobs abuse Java applets to make lake applets. Hence it died.

    Proprietary plugins like flash still thrive since among the crap (like annoying flash intros and ads) they offer plenty of useful applications not-outside-this-world, easy to implement, and the plugin is tiny, multiplatform.

    VRML never had a d
  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:11PM (#15506468) Homepage
    The flying car was promised loooooong before the 3D web browser.

    It's time that we draw a line in the sand: no further development on the 3D browser until a commercially viable flying car hits the market.

  • ...with QuickTime VR. [] Well, not the same thing, but at least this one is not a total flop like VRML. Maybe because it makes more sense to view websites in 2D and real life locations in (pseudo-)3D .
  • See now, an interpreter of some sort that would take the normal internet and display it in a three dimensional way. A navigation metaphor of some sort.

    But as these are, they are no better than a poor imitation of Second Life. They have focused on a such a narrow vision that by looking completely beyond them, other software such as Second Life has already moved far beyond.

    But, like I originally said, I would love to play around with something that displayed the normal internet in a 3D metaphor.
  • This makes the / 1211220 []5d/4d rubik's cube seem useful for day to day life.

    All these do right now, is look like a weird marriage of 3d FPS and webbrowser screenshots used to texture billboards. So pretty. But that's about it. Navigation can be done much more efficiently with a 2d plug-in for firefox that would concentrate on such a thing.

    I can imagine a 3D web. But it probably be more useful to have one when 3d holographic displays are the norm and I can
  • I can see a need for 3D on the web, VRML and QTVR objects giving you walk-throughs and views of real world products for example, but is there actually a need for a 3D Web?

    If I'm looking for something on the web then I usually want to find it quickly. How does this help me find what I need? It seems to be an obstructive use of 3D technology, all because someone said "3D's cool, let's make a 3D web browser."

    Looking for something? Use Google. Want 3D? Play WoW, Quake, Doom, NFS, etc.

  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:43PM (#15506644)
    3D is useful (even with 2D screens) for all kinds of data, and conventional interfaces are adequate, if not ideal, for working with it (otherwise, we wouldn't have 3D games). But 3D's internet utility, I think, is going to materialize in forms that are very much not like what we think of as "web browsers", though there may be some overlap (of course, "Web" applications are becoming increasingly ill-suited to the traditional web browser model as well, leading browsers to increasingly become fairly generic application platforms) -- I think that things like OpenCroquet are more like where internet 3D will bloom than 3D adaptations or plugins for traditional web-browsers.
  • Like "turning right from the 3D Browse button, then moving towards the Door-like Enter button, and levitating over the sinuzoidally-flowing search results" ...

    Too much waste of precious time.

    Best is the way we have it now ; click, click and voila.
  • Adding a dimension to an task on a computer does nothing but slow it down in most cases. Yes, it make lower the learning curve, or be more prettyful, but slow it down it does.

    Lets take for example the task of taking all .mp3 files and changing them to .ogg files.

    In one dimension (command line), we have a simple python script:

    #!/usr/bin/env python
    import os
    list = os.listdir('.')
    for item in list:
    os.system('mp32ogg "' + item)

    Nice and easy, and scales line
    • just because you have a lousy implimentation of a GUI, and a horible software, doesn't make a GUI slower. That only says you are using a horrible tool.

      There is no reasn why someone couldn't write an encoding app the looked for an extension, and then reencoded into a diffrent format.

      It takes one click for me to open a browser, how many keystrokes does it take you?

      Why are you too lazy to learn the hot keys in your GUI?

  • ...and yet people still buy paitings.
  • The whole idea of browsing web pages in some sort of 3D reminds me of demos of this I saw at Netscape back in 1996. Pages flying in from nowhere when you'd click on a link, and so on. I imagine people want that now just as much as they wanted it back then-- not a whole lot.

    But 3D on the web is not completely pointless as some would suggest. I have been poking around X3D and VRML lately because I am trying to figure out, in this post VRML world, what is the easiest way to show off some 3D scatter plot data v
  • Yes, that's right! I look at Google Earth as a geospatial browser, where I can click on KML links to web pages based on location, and now get dynamic web based geospatial content based on KML servers [for example: this []]!

  • This is the kind of posts that make me want to subscribe to Slashdot just so I can get the satisfaction of tagging an article "stupid".

    I've worked with a lot of people producing 3d environments over the years (Since 1996). Several projects called themselves "Web 2.0" but I guess that name finally stuck with an even more hyped technology.

    The problems are:
    1) Speed: It's slower than a web page. Always will be.

    2) Unscanable: If I want to scroll through a web page I scroll through it. If I'm in a virtua

    • If the mouse pad was an input device you could get by with the regular mouse. Just make the pad have a slight tilting motion to it, back and forth,a pivot underneat, you could easily adjust to getting the third depth dimension by tilting forward or backward just slightly. It doesn't have to be much at all, just slightly.
  • WHat ever happened to the VRML virtual reality markup language that supports the 3d web apps?

    I was just wondering about this last week. Sure back in 98 with no decent 3d cards it sucked balls and turned a might pentium into a trs-80 but the standard might be hot today with 3d cards and fast processors.

    You dont need a 3d browser for these features if anyone actually kicks up the old standard again.
  • Although it probably amazes most people to know this, our good friends at Google actively use VRML. Thanks to Microsoft's lack of support for transparent PNG rendering in IE 6 (and Google obviously needing to support it), Google leverages IE's VRML support to get the job done. With the level of 3D experience users have come to expect with modern applications and hardware, it's a big ask for anyone to create a 3D environment of a comparable standard using VRML.
  • WHAT HAPPENED TO VRML!?? I'll tell you what happened! All the clients were such a royal pain in the left toe to USE that people dropped them like a box of one dozen starving, crazed weasels! If only the VRML browser people had got together with the id software people and learned some basic interface tips, VRML might still be in use today.

    Ugh! I mean, you have to click a button to change from "walk" mode to "strafe" mode...
  • No ClaraGL? [] IMHO it's certainly a better way to do to 3-D browsing.
  • in a sense the browser I'm using right now has a 3rd dimension.. tabs ! it seems vastly more efficient than dealing with a dozen flying and rotating windows.
  • by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <ckratsch@gmail . c om> on Friday June 09, 2006 @11:19PM (#15507429)
    Back in 1996, Packard Bell computers came with this thing installed, called navigator. It was a picture of an office, with a desk and shelves and books and things. Clicking on the items would take you to different applications, file system browsers, etc.

    It was stupid then, and it's stupid now.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell