Daily question: Can your browser do this?

Exactly ten years ago the state of the art looked like this at Netscape.com:


Ten years later, what one can visually do in a browser just with CSS and JavaScript without using any plugins like Flash is pretty astounding. For example, Projective texturing here uses only the 2D canvas tag and JavaScript to achieve interactive distortion and rotation in 3D:


Reflection.js adds reflections to arbitrary images with controls over various attributes:


Flot is a pure Javascript plotting library for jQuery, capable of generating graphical plots of arbitrary datasets on-the-fly client-side:


Not shabby for a browser that only a few years ago could barely render formatted text!

In 1998, did you think that in less than a decade the browser of that day could evolve into what it has become today?

4 thoughts on “Daily question: Can your browser do this?

  1. Pingback: Does “A VC” have a blind spot for Apple? « counternotions

  2. Brend: “…it didn’t fit in the way I was using a computer.”

    That’s exactly the point. For the browser to become what it is today, what was needed, more than technical advancement, was social, cognitive and behavioral change in the way we think of a medium of access and exchange. After all, even at that time, we had very capable text layout, imaging and rasterizing platforms like QuarkXPress, PostScript, Photoshop, etc. But there was no such social underpinnings of a global network. Now we simply expect stuff to be there, in the browser, and technology in due course makes it possible. In other words, when QuickTime movies were postage-stamp size, we expected them to get bigger and better eventually, and today we can watch HD movies within a browser without much fanfare.

  3. Well Kontra, once again you have a sharp question!

    When I first saw Netscape, back in 1995, I was impressed. I also thought the pretty basic design would be open for improvement. I thought they should replace the gray background with a white one as soon as possible and I expected web pages would get a more magazine like lay-out with different fonts, better graphics, advertisements… So the 1998 page isn’t doing so bad!

    Then, it must be around ’98, there was this Marc Andreesen thing: the claim that Windows was no more than a bunch of badly designed device drivers and the webbrowser would eventually replace the operating system. So the development of the browser actually has been predicted.
    But it was a weird prediction because it didn’t fit in the way I was using a computer. The fact that you could read remote documents with even the possibility of basic interaction was such a huge step, it took a lot of effort to absorb that. Within my surroundings I was quite advanced. Within my organisation I experimented with something that later would be called “intranet” and my most important discovery was that it doesn’t work to be too far ahead. Instead of reaching the people I wanted to reach (if any, I probably overestimated the urge of my colleagues to embrace new development) I reased fears within the management would tried to stop me.
    And basically Andreesen reached the very same effect: people who could really see his genius were very rare but he caused major scare at Microsoft and forced them to develop the Internet Explorer.

    Maybe I am lucky I didn’t see the possibilities to the extent we can see them today. It would have made me feel even more thorn apart.

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