Tag Archives: firefox

Mozilla and Unity working together to rule Web Gameplay

Mozilla and Unity recently announced they have joined forces to bring Unity’s popular game engine to the web using WebGL standard and Mozilla’s asm.js.

Backed by a strong base of developers, Unity started in 2005 as a game development tool for the OS X and then grew to a multi-platform game engine that currently supports iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry 10, OS X, Linux, Flash, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Windows Phone 8, and Wii U. Until now, this engine was only available in the browser through a plugin, but soon this reality will change.

Last month, at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, Mozilla and Unity showcased a version of the 3D shooter Dead Trigger 2 running inside the Firefox browser, without the need of additional plugins while maintaining a smoothly gaming experience.

This is the culmination of the efforts made by Unity and Mozilla for the past 2 years and was possible because of two technologies supported by Mozilla. The first one, WebGL, is a JavaScript API based on OpenGL ES 2.0 and exposed through the HTML5 Canvas for rendering 3D graphics without the need of additional plugins. The second one, asm.js, is a strict subset and optimized version of JavaScript that allows a browser-based application to be written in other languages than JavaScript, such as C or C++, which according to Mozilla can help boost the performance of these applications to reach near-native speeds.

Mozilla said in their blog, that browser based games will work well in all modern desktop browsers that fully support WebGL, with improved performance in Firefox because of its asm.js support. The export to WebGL is expected to happen in the end of this year with the upcoming version 5.0 of Unity that will allow the creation of richer experience in web gaming using the popular game-engine.

This announcement follows a previous one where Mozilla and Epic previewed Unreal Engine 4 running in Firefox, and clearly shows Mozilla’s commitment of pushing technologies that can help users have a web experience with nothing more than a browser and near native-speed.

Mozilla retreating on Linux?

Moving away from Linux support invites analysis

May 16, 2012, 12:19 PM — It seems that Mozilla is a little reluctant to provide initial support for its upcoming Web Apps Marketplace on the Linux platform.

Apparently, the Mozilla development team is playing a numbers game, and it resisting committing resources getting the Marketplace platform to Linux. Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler put it plainly:

“What we need most, I suspect, is available Linux coders, people who know Gnome, Unity, GTK, etc. to do the platform integration work. I don’t know who those people are. Looking around the sub-set of community members employed by Mozilla who could help on this, I don’t see any available resources or even any resources I would move from their current work to this work.”

It’s a little hard to argue the numbers, particularly since no matter where you look, the browser share for Linux users seems to run in the low- to mid-single digits. With 95 (or more) percent of browser running on something other than Linux, from a pure numbers viewpoint, it’s difficult to dispute.

But I would like to offer some other numbers that might shed some light on what Mozilla’s products mean for Linux users.

According to StatOwl, Linux users overwhelmingly still use some version of Firefox. The past six-month average for browser statistics that StatOwl collects is:


(I used StatOwl, by the way, because they were the only data collector where I could quickly filter by operating system.)

Let’s be clear on the source, before continuing: in the same time period, StatOwl showed Linux use at decidedly low percentages, with the six-month averages coming in at:


Clearly, loyalty for Firefox is obviously high among Linux users—which I suspect is why there’s been so much vocal opposition to Mozilla’s plan. But as I said, looking at numbers like these operating system percentages, it’s easy to see why Mozilla is reluctant to commit resources.

Now, I know full well the fallacies of relying on browser share numbers, so take all of these numbers with a big grain of salt. But I have to wonder if Mozilla might not be shooting its base support in the foot… or if the supposition that most open source developers are indeed using and coding in Linux is indeed right.

These numbers, unfortunately, don’t show what the concentration of developers in Linux-space vs. other operating systems is. But they do show another startling trend that I wonder if Mozilla is aware of.

Take a look at the last 12 months’ worth of browser data on the Linux platform. I plugged those numbers into Calc and ran out the trend lines, and was surprised what I found.

I discovered that if the current trends of browser adoption continue, that on Linux, Google’s Chrome browser will become the number one browser over Firefox in just six months.

That’s a big if, mind you. If you look at that chart I linked to, you can see that back in July of 2011, Safari on Linux seemed poised to overtake Firefox, and it very much did not. So my prediction must be taken with that in mind.

But, even if it’s remotely correct and Firefox is indeed slipping among Linux users in favor of Chrome, then it puts Mozilla in an interesting position, depending on whether or not they are aware of this trends and are seeing it from more than just this one source.

If they are aware of this trend, then the move to not support the Web App Marketplace platform on Linux right off the bat may be a prudent (if unfortunate) move for Mozilla. If they are about to cede their dominance on Linux, they may really be seeing a decrease in Linux developers willing to work on Mozilla projects for Linux.

But, if they are not aware of this trend, then decisions like the one they are making here could accelerate the migration away from Firefox and prevent any real chance for Firefox to recover… even within its traditional user base.

Those might be numbers to which Mozilla should pay attention.

By Brian Proffitt


Hands On With Boot2Gecko, the Mobile OS Built Entirely on Web Standards

A turning point in an open source mobile OS?

NEW ORLEANS — Mozilla is most famous for its desktop software, so seeing the non-profit, open-source-oriented company at a trade show for the wireless industry initially seems odd, even dissonant. But the developer behind the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client is branching out into a smartphone operating system of all things, so its presence at the CTIA wireless show in New Orleans is all but de rigueur.

“The mobile space is different than the desktop web,” Todd Simpson, Mozilla’s chief of innovation, told Wired at CTIA. “We can’t rely on word of mouth to get us onto smartphones and into retail stores with the level of success it had for us on the desktop.”

With that in mind, Simpson and other Mozilla honchos attended their first CTIA convention, showing off phones running their operating system project, Boot2Gecko, or B2G. I caught up with Simpson, and tried out B2G running on four different Samsung Galaxy S II handsets. While the software is still in its early stages, it did look very promising.‪
‬”The interest we’ve seen from operators so far is because we’re offering the open web on a smartphone, and anyone can grab it and use it however they’d like.” –Todd Simpson‪

‬The B2G operating system, its user interface, and all the apps it runs are built entirely using modern web standards, such as HTML5 and JavaScript. On the backend of the OS, everything runs on Gecko, the HTML rendering engine Mozilla uses for its Firefox browser — hence the somewhat clunky, consumer-unfriendly name, Boot2Gecko.

Simpson promised that the web-based OS and all the apps it runs will eventually match the functionality and performance of what we see in Google’s Android OS, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. It’s an ambitious goal, but from what I saw, its didn’t seem far-fetched.

At this point, B2G’s user interface consists of a few home screens’ worth of apps, each of which can be launched by tapping a rectangular icon. The apps may be web-based, but launched blazingly fast because most were cached onto the phones. Thanks to the caching scheme, B2G phones will still work when a network signal is out of reach.

So far, Mozilla is only showing off the most basic apps. There’s a phone dialer for making calls, a web browser (of course), a camera app, a gallery app for checking out the photos you’ve shot, a video player, and a calculator app. B2G also runs a few games, including the iOS and Android hit Cut The Rope.

An app called CrystalSkull demoed Boot2Gecko’s ability to handle complicated 3D graphics — you manipulate the motion of a clear, floating skull with touches and swipes. CrystalSkull, and every other app I tried, responded exactly as you’d expect from a smartphone.

Pinching and zooming photos, surfing the web, playing games, and even placing an actual phone call all worked with no touchscreen lag or performance issues. In all, my 30 minutes with the B2G phones left me feeling like I had been field-testing a perfectly able set of smartphones.

But, again, Boot2Gecko is in its early stages. There’s no centralized app store, no place to buy music and movies, and the camera app can’t yet shoot video. What is clear, however, is that Mozilla is making progress at a surprisingly fast pace. Could HTML5-based apps spell the end for relatively closed app platforms like iOS and even Android? Only time will tell. But if nothing else, B2G proves that basic, baseline app-like functionality can be executed in HTML5 and JavaScript.

Simpson wouldn’t say which hardware makers are interested in using Boot2Gecko in the U.S. market, though rumors have floated LG as a possible OEM partner. Demoing the OS on Samsung Galaxy S II handsets wasn’t a plug for Samsung, Simpson said.

“We’re using Samsung phones because they’re good phones and we had them around,” Simpson said. “We’ve had Boot2Gecko running on a bunch of different phones from different companies so far.” Anyone with a GitHub account can download a build of the OS and load it to a touchscreen handset to try the software out for themselves, he noted.

Telefonica is hoping to launch a smartphone running Boot2Gecko in Brazil sometime early next year, and T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom is interested in offering B2G phones as well, Simpson said.

Oh, and about the name: When the OS eventually launches, it won’t be called Boot2Gecko, Simpson said.

Like the Firefox browser, B2G is a completely open-source project, with Mozilla engineers working alongside any coder who’d like to contribute across the web. The open source approach will allow for infinite customization possibilities, Simpson said, complete with downloadable user interface themes (later on, down the road) and the option for hardware manufacturers to fork the software into their own operating systems.

“Our goal is to keep Boot2Gecko as open as possible,” he said. “The interest we’ve seen from operators so far is because we’re offering the open web on a smartphone, and anyone can grab it and use it however they’d like. No other operating system is really offering that at this point.”

By Nathan Olivarez-Giles


Gaikai brings its cloud gaming to Facebook, launches beta application

Gaikai’s certainly grown leaps and bounds since its early days, and today the cloud gaming firm takes another step by joining the largest social networking platform on the globe. For starters, this first beta of Gaikai’s Facebook application is available to North American / European gamers, offering support for browsers such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari and Firefox on Windows, OS X or Linux machines. Gamers who’ve fiddled around with the outfit’s previous betas or Walmart’s Gaikai powered Gamecenter will know the drill: streaming game demos in the frame of your web browser.

Ready to try before you buy? The setup is serving up samples of Saints Row: The Third, Dead Rising 2, Magicka, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, The Witcher 2, Orcs Must Die! and Farming Simulator 2011. Gaikai CEO and co-founder David Perry told us that while the outfit’s current Facebook rigging is still centered around demos, it’s primed to push full titles if and when a publisher requests it. “Our goal is to get games as accessible as movies and music,” he told us “so games get the chance to compete.” Gaikai v1.0 is live on Zuck’s site now, so click the source link below, pop in your Facebook credentials and you should be all set.

source Facebook (Gaikai)

Paladin – browser-based game development project at Mozilla Labs

Paladin is a Mozilla project to push 3D gaming on the Web. It’s intended to allow games to be deployed entirely in the browser, with no plugins required. Multiple platforms and devices, including mobile tablets and phones, can be targeted with a single code base, and no compiling is required during development. For production releases, assets can be bundled with the game or fetched dynamically from the web at runtime. Paladin is currently comprised of several related project. Gladius, the game engine, a joystick API for Firefox and a mouse lock API for Firefox.

The technology sits at the intersection of 3D gaming, JavaScript framework and library development, and the browser. Where the web is missing critical gaming support, Paladin developers aim to fill those gaps by adding new browser APIs, enhancing existing ones, and building technologies on top of the web.

More at Mozilla Labs.

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