First off, turn the volume up and check this out
Breathtaking, isn’t it ! This is an example of what’s possible in our browsers nowadays. We ‘ve reached a point in time when the web is catching up on native apps’ abilities. It actually took 26 years to finally get there ! How did it happen?
The origin of the web technologies
Back in the 90′, the first web browsers that were developed at the CERN, were designed like
document viewers. Their purpose was to download and to present assets, using the well known Hyper Text Markup Language along with the Cascading Style Sheet.
HTML and CSS respond to the need to structure and design a virtual document. In other words it ‘s a kind of futuristic “Gutenberg” tool to describe a hierarchy of blocks of content with their look and feel.
Nowadays, HTML, CSS, SVG and others, are public/open standards defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These are the specs that define our browsers’ abilities, which we can rely on as web designer.
HTML4 – The Stone-Edge
Until very recently, even though it was possible to be creative, we were still limited with HTML. Simply because it was only meant to do this one thing : to model documents made of text, images, tables and forms.
In other words, anything too advanced, out of its original scope, was hackery or simply impossible. Say you just wanted a chart image, you would have needed to generate it on the server, with another technology, and send it within the document as an image.
Consequently, if there wasn’t a way, to dynamically generate a bitmap from our browser, then forget about real-time graphics rendering. So to fill-in the holes, we used browser plugins and especially the well known, loved and hated, Flash!
Flash … the hot fix
Flash the plugin that fixed our browsers. We now had games, video players and other fanciness in our web pages YAY \o/
Actually, the situation was far from ideal, it was simply not part of any standards. Nothing assured us Flash would be installed and working on every browser, especially on mobiles. Actually we had to rely on Adobe’s good will and collaboration with O.S / Device makers therefore mobile support was terrible (read almost inexistent).
Hence why, Flash has been criticised to be just a hot fix. A plugin doomed to end.
And the death blow came from Apple.
Indeed, Steevo didn’t want Flash on his iApple devices. It probably helped his company to save extra development and QA costs, because of all sort of issues Apple would have had to support.
He especially knew with the new specs for HTML coming soon, that nobody would need Flash. It was pretty tough for Adobe who, today, has discontinued Flash support on all mobile devices.
HTML5 – The new-edge
The first draft for HTML5 was in 2008 and it was just recently published, the 28 October 2014.
It aims at providing all the tools one would need to make a stunning user experience ( without the need for plugins). It features video, audio, storage support … and one of the coolest thing : the canvas.
The canvas : a window to a new world of possibles
This little <canvas></canvas> html tag provides a way to render bespoke 2D/3D graphics in real time. In other words it offers the ability to build any visual experience one would want. On top or below any original html content.
Another open standard, WebGL, make even use of the GPU’s computing power, therefore offering more details and effects, and this available in all browser up to date.
We now have more freedom to focus on the experience, the message we want to deliver, we can now forget about the technical limitations.
The only limits are the ones of our imagination
With the rise of real time rendering, we now have the tool to create anything really. Here is a compilation of promotional user experience, games, and other awesome websites.
A Multimedia guide to Polish Culture, one of the best UX I’ve seen in ages
TimeLikes : Your interactive timeline of Facebook likes
Delaneau 2016 : A beautiful kaleidoscope around Delaneau’s products
Squad 451, the hunger game : A viral site that aimed to reach 1,000,000 clicks and did so in one hour
Because-Recollection : a music interactive experience
Interesting UX around interviews of architects and their projects
A virtual exhibition on the history of Varsaw during WWII
JETLAG : More than a Photo book
Guillaume Tomasi’s portfolio
Ommexperience : UX focused on the narrative aspect :
The last Gallic : website around the french movie
Digital heartbeat’s website
And the list goes on and on … just checkout AWWWards.com or google WebGL, to see what I mean.
This is exciting times for the web industry. Everything is possible. Yet to be done !
This is a call to the muses, shall they open our minds to the possibles, and guide our pen on our storyboards !