Archive for the 'coding' Category

OSC to Websockets using node.js

Friday, October 26th, 2012

The last weeks I have improved the Simplecanvas app so now it has more features, the main one is that now you are able to share your creations with other people. I am also improving the API so it has more features and makes it easy to animate objects through time.

The only missing thing is the input, I thought it would be nice to be able to interact with the creation through some kind of simple interface. The only supported input is the mouse coordinates which is nice to do some effects but not enought to synchronize with other people.

On that line my friend Graham, an experienced music live-coder, suggested me to add OSC support so he can send me messages from his live coding sessions (using chuck) so I can use them to synchronize the beat in my animations.


Javascript syntax…

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Javascript has that point of uncertainty that makes coding and adventure! Here is one example:

] ()
SyntaxError: syntax error
] {}
] ({})
Object {}

For more oddities like this one, I suggest the hilarious presentation WAT from Gary Bernhardt.

Web Experiment: Simple Canvas

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Today I’m going to talk about a tiny web app I coded the last week to create images and animations programatically, it is called Simplecanvas.

Click the image to try it

The idea is to create images using simple functions like move or drawImage, and test the results instantly by pressing control+enter.


Interesting links of June 2012

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Here is a bunch of interesting links I’ve found during the last month, that I thought were worthy to share and comment.


I enjoyed reading this article (Lou’s Pseudo 3d Page v0.91) about how manage the old games to create a visualization of a road for racing games, using raster techniques and in some cases specific hardware for arcade machines. It is well documented and easy to understand.

Beyond Javascript

Javascript its reaching its limits, so here are some interesting projects related to the language itself.

  • LLJS: Low level javascript, using the JSVM to execute other kinds of code.
  • JSRepl: a webapp to code in different languages from the browser and see the results.
  • Garbage Collector in JS: tips to avoid your js app to freeze everytime the GC do his thing.
  • Optimizing JS, a good bunch of tips to optimize code in Chrome V8

There is even a LLVM to Javascript compiler called Emscripten, and because there are interpreters from almost any language to LLVM intermediate code, it is possible to take old games coded in C and convert them to be executed on the browser, like Open TTD (one of my favourite old games)!

And if you want to learn to code Javascript or just learn to code, this site is awesome:  Codeacademy

HTML5 upcoming standards

Google and Mozilla are pushing the HTML5 standard with new APIs to access hardware functionalities, but also to allow to create new webapps. Some are really interesting like P2p connections from the browser.

A list with the upcoming standards

Collaborative apps

I love collaborative apps, the results are always unpredictible, here are two nice examples.

  • yourworldoftext: an infinite canvas made of text where people can write whatever they want.
  • webcanvas: an infinite canvas where everybody can draw. Some time ago I used this to create the title of a community site I had, so people could change the title whenever they wanted. The results where really funny and monstruous.

#musichackday 2012: app for iPad

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

This has been the thirth edition that I have participated in the MusicHackDay, a 24 hours coding competition, usually endorsed by famous musical technology companies (like Spotify, Soundcloud,…).

The MHD its a fantastic event, very well organized, where you can meet great people, code cool things, learn new technologies, and win some prizes during 24 hours, and all for free!

My good friend Marcos and I made this app for the iPad using the Freesound API that let you access to all the samples’ info stored in their database, even provides links to download those samples.

Click on the image to see more screenshots

Click read more if you want to know how it was done. (more…)

Web Experiment: Mathnimatics

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Some time ago I did one of my first web experiments in HTML5 using the Canvas element, it was a simple “solve this equation for every pixel of an image” to create mathematical images easily from an equation written by the user, I wasn’t sure how long it will take to evaluate the equation for every pixel (due to being executed in the Javascript VM) but it turned out to be so fast that I could execute it in realtime (using a low resolution canvas I could get 60 fps).

Today I recovered that code and made some optimizations on the way the render loop was handled, I think now it is between two and four times faster. It is a good time to talk about it in this blog.


Click on the image to try it

If you want to know how it is done read the rest of the post.


Web Experiment: Rendering 3D without WebGL

Friday, May 25th, 2012

After too many years developing 3D Apps using APIs like OpenGL I found myself wondering why I never did a rasterizer from scratch, creating the image pixel by pixel, using just the CPU.

It is a real useful exercise to consolidate the mental knowledge of a graphics pipeline. I even know people who use software rasterizers on their engines to solve visibility issues or as a fallback option for some extreme situations (for instance, 3D on the web on Internet Explorer! ha ha).

So today I started my own rasterizer, and I choose Javascript, which is not the best context when searching for performance., but I was surprised to see that three.js has its own build-in raster which amazing results, so, why not?

Click the image to see it in action

If you are curios about how it is done, continue reading the entry.


Web Experiment: Shared canvas with Websockets

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

For today experiment I tryed to recreate the cool sketchpad by mr doob using websockets and HTML5Canvas.

The idea is that while you paint on the canvas your strokes are send to the server and broadcast to all the users on the web in realtime using websockets, you also can see the cursor of the other people. Click on the image to test it but remember that if there are not other users online you will be just drawing alone.

Shared Canvas

If you want to know more about the coding read the full post.


Experiment: Realtime coding with visual feedback

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

I guess that more or less all the people who love coding has seen this amazing talk from Bret Victor.

I was amazed not only by the ideas (which are great) but for the technological part of implementing those ideas, specially by the one where he keeps coding while the screen shows the output of the code without having to restart the app every time a line of code is changed, hard to do because while a coder is typing the code is invalid most of the time (could trigger parsing errors or execution errors). Parser errors are not dangeours because they can be detected easily and they dont mess anything, but execution errors are a big problem because once an error happens the data inside the vars could end up in an invalid state (because the code was partially executed).

So I started thinking about the problem and though that it shouldnt be so hard to code it in Javascript as a webapp using the HTML5 Canvas as the output. If you want to test it click on the image below.

Click to try the app

How does it works? I reevaluate the code after every keystroke (if the code is not too big the parsing is less that 100 ms), if there is a parsing error (the eval function throws an exception) I just keep executing the previous iteration (the last safe code), otherwise I try to execute the new one, if an error is triggered during the execution I fallback to the previous safe iteration.

It works pretty well, besides the problem with the persistent data between iterations, that could get “corrupted” very easily. For that I only could make a “reset state” button that clears all the state (I have to create a new Canvas to avoid problems with the save and restore functions).

There is only one unsolved issue, what about infinite loops?, well, I can’t control that, AFAIK Javascript doesnt has the tools to fix that, and it is easy to end up with an infinite loop when using whiles. I thought about injecting some code inside every loop before evaluating it, that code could act as a yield and throw an exception if the number of iterations is too big. But that would be hard to code so I will just leave it here.

Feel free to check the examples and play with the them, and dont forget to share your experiments with me 🙂

Btw, there are some candies in the app like the option of selecting and dragging a number while the Control key is pressed to modify a constant, it also works with variables.

WebGL and Firefox/Chrome

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Developing web applications has been always annoying regarding the browsers difference interpretation of the what is standard and what not, thats the reason why I stopped developing for IE. At least Google and Mozilla are serious about the standards so 99% of the code I develop for Firefox (my default browser) works in Chrome as expected. Kudos for both of them.

They have their own extensions but they are for more experimental features. Regarding to what functionalities to support, they both follow the same standard and thats great.

But when it comes to WebGL, although they both follow the same standard, the implementation is a little bit different.

That means that the performance it is not the same between both browsers under the same circunstances, and that is a problem, because there is no way I can see what is the browser doing (besides downloading the fullcode…) so if the performance is unstable I feel I reached a dead-end.

I dont mean that one browser is more optimized than the other, my issues are more about how some actions cost more to one browser than the other.

My current application runs much more smoothly in Firefox than in Chrome, but Firefox loves to purge the Garbage Collector every 10 seconds freezing the application for several seconds, which makes it totally unfriendly. Chrome on the other hand is more stable but the frame-rate drops sometimes just by adding a tiny mesh to the rendering process.

Chrome also do not like negative values for the viewport (I can understand that) and show some weird results when stretching a texture too much (¿?), looks like an undocumented bug with the magnification filter.

It makes me reconsider if WebGL is the perfect platform for 3D applications and games.