[General] King of Lively part II : LIE and CHEAT
pfraser at spatialmedia.com
Wed Nov 11 04:32:39 CET 2009
IMO, the *Java* version of Lively is the fast route to a universal,
fast, tight platform. Such a platform is a prerequisite for an active
Where has the Java work got to?
Did I really say "Lively isn't ready for the prime time"? I immediately
regretted pushing send. It is close and beautiful, and packs more power
into the browser than anything else -but the prime time is unforgiving
and insists that if you are going to play the browser game, you have to
play it well. This means supporting four browsers on all the platforms
those browser run on. Lively could do it, (though it's thankless task
that never ends) but doesn't do four browsers now. And (yawn yawn) we
need more speed, and can't rely on Moore's Law.
To me, the way forward is obvious: Focus on the Java implementation,
doing whatever it takes (meaning writing tactical Java) to make Lively
as slick, responsive and consistent as it will be when browsers get
their act together.
I'm NOT talking about switching to Java. I'm talking about building, in
Java, the kind of future-browser that Lively is anticipating. Lie and
cheat unabashedly. If Rhino isn't performing (and let's not forget Da
Vinci etc) then resort to Java. If (say) SVG doesn't offer a decent RGB
interface, add it. If SVG is too slow, revert to Java graphics. Lie and
cheat -but be sure to have a browser implementation on hand lest you be
If Lively in the browser works, great -but let users know that Java
will give them a better user experience today, especially for complex
worlds, and serious Lively hacking. The Internet Explorer problem goes
away(ish), and Sun research has a (better than) ringside view of the
[Aside: Silverlight would be an alternative to Java, but I'm assuming
that Sun/Oracle remain involved and people continue to fret about their
air supply. If Flash suddenly got a compliler on the client, it too
would make a nice Lively incubator. ]
More metaphors: I'm aware that the project worked with Java for a while
but encountered too much intrinsic complexity. I propose that Java be
considered *microcode*. The problem with the browser as computer, is
that you can't microcode it. When you hit a wall, there are no options.
Even Mozilla starts to feel like proprietary software.
My sense would be to implement HTML Canvas in "jmicrocode" (if a
implementation doesn't exist already). Canvas feels to me like a better
lively substrate than SVG, and doing Canvas in Java (oops -jmicrocode)
feels better to me than adapting to another graphics api (eg scene graph
etc) in Lively JS directly.
Tell me I'm wrong (it's good for me).
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