Mozilla, graphics group seek to build 3D Web

Wish you could play Crysis in your Web browser? Two influential organizations are banding together to try to bring accelerated 3D graphics to the Web, a move that eventually could improve online games and other Web applications.

The Web is gradually becoming a better foundation for applications with splashy, sophisticated interfaces, but 3D graphics on the Web remain primitive. Now, though, Mozilla, the group behind the Firefox browser, and Khronos, the consortium that oversees the widely used OpenGL graphics interface technology, are trying to jointly create a standard for accelerated 3D graphics on the Web.

In response to a Mozilla … Read more

Browser war centers on once-obscure JavaScript

After inconspicuously lurking within Web sites' code for more than a decade, JavaScript has emerged to become a key battleground in a second era of Web browser wars.

JavaScript, which lets developers create everything from basic Web site menus to online spreadsheet applications, was born in the mid-1990s when Microsoft's Internet Explorer challenged the incumbent browser, Netscape's Navigator. IE won that war, but now it faces its own challenge from the heir to the Navigator throne, Mozilla's Firefox, along with upstarts including Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari, and Opera.

All the challengers tout JavaScript performance as a major part of their competitive attack--even to the point of naming their JavaScript engines built into their browsers: Chrome's V8, Firefox's TraceMonkey, Opera's Futhark and upcoming Carakan, and Safari's newly branded Nitro, which is Apple's version of WebKit's Squirrelfish.

Though IE lags all these rivals in JavaScript performance, Microsoft does care about performance overall and JavaScript performance specifically. Even as Microsoft launched a brand-new browser version, Internet Explorer 8, on Thursday, however, it's also clear the company has a big difference of opinion about the matter.

"We're going to keep making the script engines faster (but) right now it's not clear how many people are gated by script performance," said IE general manager Dean Hachamovitch in an interview. "JavaScript comprises a small portion of how fast a Web page will render. It is a piece, but by no means the holy grail." … Read more

Google project promotes Chrome, JavaScript

Ever since Google launched Chrome in September 2008, Google has been touting how fast its browser can run Web-based programs written in JavaScript. Now the company has launched a site called Chrome Experiments designed to show off what fast JavaScript can enable and to encourage adoption of the browser.

Browser benchmark performance scores make for nice bar charts, but they can be detached from real-world computing needs. Chrome Experiments--which don't require Chrome but sometimes break without it--are a collection of taxing applications written in JavaScript that are designed to be more engaging.

Among the 19 examples so far available: … Read more

Google offers better-tested Chrome version

Google released a new beta version of Chrome Tuesday, offering a better balance between software that's stable but out of date on the one hand and cutting-edge but crash-prone on the other.

The new version offers a number of new features, including zooming that increases or decreases the graphics as well as text; autofill to ease the chore of re-entering information in Web site forms; and new tab-dragging features that let you dock browser windows to the sides of the screen. The new beta version is essentially the same as Chrome that was released last … Read more

Opera offers Turbo to speed up slow Web browsing

Browser maker Opera Software has released a test version of software called Opera Turbo, designed to use compression and the company's own servers to speed browsing over slow Internet connections.

Opera Turbo runs on a person's PC, fetching data not just from the original Web site but also from an Opera server that compresses that site's text and images on the fly, Opera's Roberto Mateu said in a Friday blog post about Opera Turbo.

That's useful when grappling with overtaxed wireless networks, slower broadband wireless cards, or Net connections through a mobile phone, the Norwegian … Read more

New beta paves way for Firefox 3.5

Updated 3:56 p.m. PDT to include details about the fourth beta and upcoming Firefox 3.5

Mozilla on Thursday released the third beta version of Firefox 3.1, aka Shiretoko, one of the frontrunners in the current race to improve Web browsers.

According to the Firefox 3.1b3 release notes, the new version includes better "Web worker" multitasking abilities, a faster Gecko rendering engine for showing Web pages, and upgrades to the TraceMonkey engine for faster, more stable execution of Web sites' JavaScript programs. (Follow these links to download Firefox 3.1b3 for Windows and Mac OS X.) … Read more

Safari challenges Chrome on Web app speed

Google's latest version of Chrome has claimed the lead in my JavaScript speed tests, but Apple's new Safari 4 beta is the first browser to challenge it on Google's own performance benchmark.

JavaScript is a programming language that powers not just innumerable ordinary Web sites, but also many Web-based applications such as Google Docs. With the computing industry's major push to cloud computing, Web application performance is increasingly important, and there's a race on to see who's got the best JavaScript engine. JavaScript engines even have become a named feature, with Chrome's V8, Firefox's TraceMonkey, Opera's Futhark and upcoming Carakan, and now the Safari's newly branded Nitro, which is Apple's version of WebKit's Squirrelfish. … Read more

Safari 4 a big step up, but not as far as rivals

With Safari 3, I admired Apple's chutzpah for bringing its browser to Windows. With the new Safari 4 beta, I'm actually starting to admire the browser, too.

A big user interface overhaul makes Safari look polished rather than clunky on Windows, builds in better search abilities, and makes good use of the fact that people often visit the same sites over and over.

However, the lack of something like the extensions architecture that Firefox pioneered still means Safari 4 (download for Windows and Mac OS X) is better only than Safari 3, not the competition. … Read more

Chrome takes new tack for faster JavaScript

Chrome programmers have switched out a third-party software package in favor of their own as part of Google's attempt to speed its open-source browser up more.

The change came with a key component for processing JavaScript text called regular expressions. "As we've improved other parts of the language, regexps started to stand out as being slower than the rest. We felt it should be possible to improve performance by integrating with our existing infrastructure rather than using an external library," according to a Chromium blog post by programmers Erik Corry, Christian Plesner Hansen, and Lasse Reichstein … Read more

Need for speed spurs Opera JavaScript overhaul

With Web applications imposing new demands on Web browsers, a previously behind-the-scenes programming technology called JavaScript is getting new visibility, and Opera is the latest case in point.

The Norwegian browser maker announced on Wednesday a new JavaScript engine project called Carakan.

Carakan runs JavaScript code about 2.5 times as fast as the Futhark engine in the alpha version of Opera 10, programmer Lars Erik Bolstad said in an Opera blog post.

Opera's main business is browsers for mobile phones, and its current JavaScript engine is optimized for minimum memory demands, but now performance is the priority, Bolstad … Read more