Friday, October 05, 2007

Funny Firefox icon

I really like this one ! I don't know who created the modification, so I can't give credit.

Mozilla dropping gecko for webkit ?

Probably not, because open source developers are traditionally often a bit opinated ...
But check out this post by AllPeers CTO Matthew Gertner, he thinks there are plenty of reasons to drop gecko for webkit, the biggest one Mozilla's large memory footprint. And of course there are also many drawbacks, most important one is loosing XUL and XPCOM. All the extensions which helped Firefox to gain momentum, would not be usable anymore at least until a webkit compatible XUL / XPCOM (if that is possible at all) is in place. In this context it is worth to mention that the post comes from an extension developer, so the drawbacks of his proposal would hurt himself as well !

Thursday, October 04, 2007

VoIP audio codecs in next flashplayer

at least that is what somebody is blogging from the MAX 2007 Adobe conference:
Danielle Deibler to discuss VOIP in Flash Player.
They are a VOIP service - point to point media session, and peer to peer technology for Flash Player.
Also going to be enabling some extended codecs in the Flash Player beyond the ones available today.
The current audio / video codecs in the flashplayer all suck, they are either outdated in terms of performance (ADPCM, h263), are proprietary and with inexistent open source encoders (NellyMoser, VP6) or are patent encumbered (mp3, h264). Hope they get it right next time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Future of Firefox and Javascript

Here comes the open source answer from Mozilla hacker John Resig to the recent announcements from Adobe (see my previous post). And there are some interesting parallels between the two, e.g. Astro 3D Effects / Hydra and the Firefox 3D canvas which seems to be an OpenGL wrapper and allows direct embedding of native c-code. Let's hope this get's all shipped with Firefox 3 in the not so distant future !

Monday, October 01, 2007

Astro & Hydra - about the next flashplayer

Flash is a proprietary technology, often associated with "Skip Intro" and annoying ads. And for web applications most developers prefer AJAX. But for video and graphics effects there is nothing which can beat flash. And Adobe keeps making the player better and faster. They have yesterday updated their current flashplayer beta with some h264 video playback improvements and today revealed some of the capabilities of their next flashplayer codenamed Astro:

Advanced Text Layout
As long as the text is outside the Browser DOM, I am not really interested in that kind of stuff, sorry Adobe ...

3D Effects
There are today quite impressive 3D engines written in Actionscript such as Sandy and Papervision, but a native implementation will bring obviously a huge performance boost.

Custom Filters, Blend Modes and other Bitmap Effects
That seems to be something completely new. They provide a downloadable application called AIF Toolkit, (for Mac and Windows) where one can define graphical effects in a new scripting language called Hydra (syntax looks like a mixture between actionscript and c). I installed the tool on my Mac and loaded one of the provided code samples. The tool is a simple application with a text editor, an image preview area and a button labeled Run. If you press it, and the syntax of the code snippet is correct, the snippet gets compiled. The tool also contains a pdf document with the hydra language specification.
I couldn't figure out how to test such a compiled filter or effect. And I don't see how this can be integrated into an existing tool chain. But I guess this is not a problem for the average flash developer who is used to work with proprietary tools.

Update: Tried again and everything magically worked. After compilation you see immediately the result of the script in the image preview area and if the script has parameters, you can interactively change them. For example with the simple script below you can set the opacity of a bitmap:

// opacity: A simple example to demonstrate the use of the hydra to change
// the opacity of an image based on an input parameter
kernel opacity
// An input parameter used to specify the opacity of the image.
// The parameter comes directly from the user by way of the UI that gets
// created for the filter.
parameter float alpha;

// evaluatePixel(): The function of the filter that actually does the
// processing of the image. This function is called once
// for each pixel of the output image.
evaluatePixel(in image4 myImage, out float4 dst)
// Acquire the pixel value from the image at the current location
float4 myPixel = sampleNearest(myImage, outCoord());

// Calculate the output the pixel value:
dst = myPixel * alpha;