Pushing The Web Forward
The fifth installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.
The Evolution of the Web with CJ Gammon
“The web connects us globally and it’s hard to imagine a future where we aren’t more connected because of the foundation of it. Given that technology and the web changes so fast, it’s not difficult to imagine the web of the future looking very different from the web of today.”
CJ Gammon works at Adobe creating interactive experiences and applications focused on web technologies. His session posed the question: How do we simplify the creation of complex content, make it easier for everyone to create, and also raise the bar for developers who are pushing the web forward?
Rich experiences and dynamic graphics
“When we think of native platforms, we often think of native games and the rich 3D experiences that are created on them. What if I want more, what if I want direct access to the GPU to create really amazing experiences?”
The web has consisted, for a long time, primarily of high-level extras and lower-level APIs (like CSS and SVG). But what about taking full advantage of the hardware?
- WebGL Specifications: From the Khronos Group, it enabled developers to use canvas elements to create rich, complex 3D web graphics.
- WebGL: For rendering the rich textures and effects of native consoles (unfortunately, difficult to write).
- Three.js: One of the most popular cross-browser WebGL libraries for the display of animated and 3D graphics. It simplifies the code-writing process.
- Hybrid applications: The web is getting really good at providing access to hardware (cameras, phones, and game pad APIs) that expands the potential for native-type experiences.
“Peripherals offer experiences that we’re able to integrate using the web’s APIs.”
Thanks to devices like Oculus Rift and Google Carboard, it’s impossible to talk about the future of the web, without mentioning Virtual Reality (VR). It can be achieved on the web with WebGL and rendering in stereoscopic view, but it requires access to the application data (so the application moves along with someone moving their head).
What kind of experiences could these technologies enable in the browser? As an example, something like Google Street View might look VERY different: Right now, it’s mapped photos that create a 360-degree view. Very cool. But static. Although there are logistical issues, the technology exists to attach VR cameras to drones that capture images in flight that people can experience through VR headsets.
Designers and their tools
“What about designers? How do designers create content for these more complex experiences. Not everyone is going to be able to write their own tools, so how do you tap into the tools that designers are already using?”
Designing is visual. And the tools designers are used to working with have rich GUIs that accelerate their ability to create:
- 3D: The rich models, textures and animations of 3D applications can be combined with WebGL. A plug-in for three.js, packaged with the three.js library enables use of Blender, an open source 3D modeling and animation tool. Designers can work where they’re comfortable and developers can work where they’re comfortable.
- Animation: Flash changed animation by enabling designers to easily create and share animation everywhere. With support for custom platforms, developers can write plug-ins that allow the export of anything in any format.
My conclusion: New workflows. Existing tools. Collaborations. Hybrid applications. A mass approach to simplifying the creation of complex content on the web.
Want to hear CJ’s talk in his own words? He recorded his session.
Read the wrap-up of Session 4: How to be a More Inefficient Designer with The Made Shop