Cloud and Mobile Web-Based Graphics and Visualization

Cloud and Mobile Web-Based Graphics and Visualization

Haim Levkowitz (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA) and Curran Kelleher (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch580
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2. Background

The first computers were extremely large, with limited access, and less computing power than today’s smartphones. The personal computer “democratized” computing by offering affordable desktop – then briefcase – access to all. The Internet connected these computers, and the World-Wide Web (“The Web”) made that connectivity user-friendly and expanded the Internet’s user base beyond the realm of techies. Recent mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have extended the reach of the Web to people who never imagined they would become computer users.

Visual computing (the aggregate of computer graphics, computer vision, image processing, and data visualization) has followed a parallel path. Although graphics hardware has become more powerful, less costly, and more portable, graphics software has not enjoyed the same reach as Web pages in general until very recently. New technologies, such as HTML5 and cloud computing, have created a new computing environment that makes it feasible to build interactive graphics applications which, for example, allow users to view and interact with huge quantities of data in visual form, and control the process from a mobile device.

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3. A Brief History Of Computer Graphics And The World-Wide Web

We start with a brief (and incomplete) history of Computer Graphics and the World-Wide Web. For more details, see, e.g., (Foley, van Dam, Feiner, & Hughes, 1990; Shoaff, 2000; Chapman, 2009; Berners-Lee, 2000)

3.1 The Early Days: The Birth of Computer Graphics

Early computers only recognized and displayed alphanumeric text. Ivan Sutherland invented interactive computer graphics in his 1963 MIT Ph.D. dissertation, Sketchpad (Sutherland, 1963). Sutherland’s system used a light-pen to provide input to an interactive vector-graphics display. Into the 1970s, several developments progressed the state-of-the-art of interactive computer graphics. Bresenham (1965; 1977) introduced algorithms to draw line segments, circles, and other primitives efficiently on raster displays. Coons (1966a; 1966b; 1968; 1977) and Bezier (Rogers, 2001) developed parametric surface representations and created the foundations of computer-aided geometric design. Appel (1967; 1968) and Crow (1977) developed hidden-surface removal and shadowing. Engelbart invented the mouse. Evans & Sutherland built flight simulators utilizing raster graphics. Gouraud (1971) and Phong (1975) introduced new rendering and reflection models. A paint program was developed at Xerox PARC. Catmull (1974) gave light to parametric patch rendering, the z-buffer algorithm, and texture mapping. Recursive ray-tracing (Whitted, 1980) became the standard for photorealistic rendering. Apple launched the personal computer age with its first computer. The first SIGGRAPH conference offered a meeting place to discuss and exchange ideas about new developments in interactive computer graphics, animation, and related visual computing innovations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

WebGL: An HTML5 technology that exposes OpenGL capability within the browser.

Immediate-Mode: A computational strategy for computer graphics in which commands that immediately render graphical elements are issued.

OpenGL: A mature open standard for hardware accelerated graphics.

HTML5: A set of Web technology standards maintained by the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and implemented by major browsers.

Retained-Mode: A computational strategy for computer graphics in which persistent data structures corresponding to graphical elements are created and potentially updated over time.

Cloud Computing: A general term referring to software and services that leverage managed virtual machines accessible via the Internet.

Mobile Computing: A general term referring to software and services that function within mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Visual Computing: The aggregate of computer graphics, computer vision, imaging, and visualization.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG): An HTML5 technology for retained-mode graphics.

Canvas: An HTML5 technology for immediate-mode graphics.

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