CSS Shaders. It’s an interesting concept, and could be really cool and amazing to use, but I can’t help but wonder: What’s the point?
Not that I have anything against shaders. They’re amazing (and really helpful) on the iPhone, in computer games, and in many animated movies. They add beautiful effects in environments that need beautiful effects, and couldn’t have them any other way. But what is their purpose on a webpage?
I’ve seen this and this and this, all of which are very cool, and will be very fun to play with when the time comes. But what will these techniques add for the great majority of internet users? As far as I can tell, it adds nothing. The ability to bend a webpage is something that I’ve rarely (if ever) longed for, and what happens when you make a webpage in the shape of a staircase? Useability goes straight down the drain.
Which implies, naturally, that the only thing these shaders will be useful for is transitions, like flipping the page of a book. The don’t enhance useability, they don’t help the ‘common user’, they’re merely a neat tool to play with.
In web design, if something does nothing for the user then it’s merely a neat tool to play around with.
So I have a suggestion. Rather than being developed for the ‘common user’ and the ‘common developer’ with the simplest syntax possible, this new technology should be headed in another direction. They ought to make it as complex as possible, marketing to the in-browser gaming companies, as a way of having a 3D webpage that your character can walk through. Being able to modify the texture of the webpage would open up possibilities of creating whole 3-dimensional worlds from a single webpage. The syntax would have to be similar to popular 3D gaming engines to work, for easy portability, but that shouldn’t be a big problem.
Sound silly? It is silly. But it’s the only purpose that I see for shaders on a webpage… Games. Convinced that I’m wrong? Prove it. I’d be glad to hear your thoughts.