Friday, October 24th, 2008
Awhile back Dion kicked off a series of posts looking at past technologies on the web, web archaeology if you will. Sometimes its good to know where we’ve come from to figure out where we are going. In this spirit I want to talk about a few web technologies from the past.
Before there was Silverlight, there was DirectAnimation starting in Internet Explorer 4:
…DirectAnimation offers the only solution of its kind in the industry, with features that include the following:
• Consistent interface for dealing with 2-D vector graphics and sprites, 3-D geometry, text, video and audio media types. • Versatile run time with a breadth of multimedia playback services that are easily incorporated into tools and applications. Integration into Internet Explorer 4.0 helps ensure a broad target audience of Web users with DirectAnimation playback capability. • Uniform time/event model that enables highly coordinated interaction among various media types, along with rich user interactivity. • Highly scalable solution for developers with various levels of programming expertise using a variety of programming and scripting languages, including HTML, the Microsoft Visual Basic® development system, Scripting Edition, JScript development software, Java and the Visual C++® development system. • High-level multimedia controls for setting motion paths, sequencing, sprite controls and low-bandwidth vector graphics. • Integration with Dynamic HTML and Windowless Control support, making DirectAnimation ideal for applying scripted animation anywhere on a Web page.
DirectAnimation was discontinued starting with IE 7 due to some security issues. In fact, Microsoft so wanted to erase the existence of this technology that they removed all of the documentation from MSDN! Here is a page from one of the original developers of DirectAnimation talking about its history. Here’s a sample screenshot of a DirectAnimation example from an article on the technology:
A small code snippet. First, the sample above embeds the DirectAnimation ActiveX control:
- <OBJECT ID="danim" WIDTH=400 HEIGHT=400 ALIGN=Center
Next is some JScript that does the work:
- m = danim.PixelLibrary;
- img = m.ImportImage("spiral.gif");
- // rotate at the rate of 60 degrees per second
- rotImg = img.Transform(m.Rotate2RateDegrees(60));
- danim.Image = rotImg;
- danim.BackgroundImage = m.SolidColorImage(m.colorRgb (1, 1, 1));
The Redmond, Washington-based software titan unveiled today its new 3D graphics software developers kit, called Chromeffects and code-named Chrome. It will be available for download August 17 free of charge for software developers.
Chromeffects is an add-on for the Windows 98 operating system that allows high-powered PCs to play 3D graphics and video either through a Web browser or in separate player software.
…but never made it out the door due to controversy over Microsoft creating their own de-facto 3D tag markup:
Microsoft’s multimedia efforts faltered this week as the company back-burnered its Chromeffects 3D graphics technology and shuffled its multimedia management team…Chromeffects, built to arm everyday Web sites with the kind of powerful multimedia and animation found in gaming environments, has encountered a barrage of criticism from the developer community since its launch three months ago. Dominating the developer wish list are requests for better compliance with World Wide Web Consortium recommendations, both those already ratified and those currently under consideration.
At the end of the day, ChromEffects was really an XML-based markup layer above the DirectAnimation technologies discussed above to make it easier for non-programmers to develop for. I’d love to show a code sample but I can’t seem to find any on the Net. The SDK was never released (it was apparently only on the MSDN CD); anyone ever actually worked with this technology?
Renegades of the Empire, by Michael Drummond, charts the fables and fortunes of the three “renegade Beastie Boys” who secretly created and championed DirectX until it became a key technology in Windows. These three software developers were also responsible for Chrome (nee Chromeeffects), the ill-fated “Web browser on steroids” that would have brought stereo 3D effects to the Web had not internal politics finally brought the project, and the renegades, to their knees. It’s an amazing story of insider intrigue, well told.
And finally, only because it’s Friday, I leave you with Microsoft’s Comic Chat IRC client that was bundled with Internet Explorer 3…. what set it apart as an IRC client is that chatting happened in cartoons!
Posted by Brad Neuberg at 8:00 am