A few notable examples include a C64 emulator, minesweeper, and even a js port of Wolfenstein 3D so this isn’t just a toy, but actually useful. Ok, for real use cases, there are also the usual file browsers, and document readers as well as a writing application based on CKeditor. There is a kind of Windows 3.1 look and feel simplicity to the experience which is refreshing in the modern era of complex applications with their learning curves. Orb could be very useful in an educational setting, or just for jotting your own notes as you travel. Who knows, because the possibilities are endless if you’re willing to get your hands dirty with a bit of coding.
We’ve seen a few web desktops before, here’s a collection of them we saw last year. If you want to go in the other direction and turn a webpage into a desktop app, then look no further than Gluon.
If you’ve ever felt the need to render DOOM using nothing but web browser checkboxes, [Andrew Healey] has you covered with his recent port of the first-person shooter. Naturally, this gets our tick of approval.
Yes, you read that right. You can now play DOOM in a 160 x 100 grid of HTML-generated checkboxes, much like this: ☑. The secret sauce for this project is partly derived from the fascinating Checkboxland project by fellow hacker Brian Braun, who uses HTML checkboxes to generate a variety of artistic demos.
[Andrew Healey] also made use of Cornelius Diekmann’s port of DOOM using WebAssembly, which we recently covered here on Hackaday. A smattering of code ties both projects together, and the end result is DOOM at 160×100 resolution, rendered entirely with HTML checkboxes.
The port can be played here using Chrome or Edge (other browsers may have issues if they do not support the
zoom property in CSS). The source code is also available over on GitHub.
While the resolution and color palette aren’t what we have come to expect from DOOM, it’s likely that the graphics could be further improved by tinkering with the dithering and threshold settings. Higher resolutions may also be possible with further optimization.
We would be hard pressed to pick our favorite port of DOOM, as the list is becoming quite long. However for something completely different, check out our story on how DOOM was brought to Twitter.
Continue reading “Play DOOM Using Web Browser Checkboxes (Finally)”
Love it or hate it, the capabilities of your modern web browser continuously grow in strange and wild ways. The ability for web apps to work offline requires a persistent local storage solution and for many, IndexedDB is the only choice as it works across most browsers and provides a database-like interface. However, as [James Long] found, IndexedDB is painfully slow on chrome and limited in querying ability. He set out to bring a tool he was familiar with, SQLite, and bring it to the web browser as absurd-sql.
Why absurd? Partially because most browsers (not chrome) implement IndexedDB on top of SQLite. So for many browsers, it is just SQLite on top of IndexedDB on top of SQLite. Luckily for [James] there already was a project known as sql.js that uses emscripten to compile the C-based SQLite into WebAssembly. However, sql.js uses an in-memory storage backing and all data is lost when refreshing the page. [James] tweaked SQLite’s method of reading and writing blocks. Instead of being memory backed, he added a layer to read and write blocks from IndexedDB. This means that only sections of the database need to be read in, bringing in huge performance gains.
That brings us to the other reason why it’s absurd. On chrome (as well as Firefox), absurd-sql beats IndexedDB on almost every benchmark. A query like
SELECT SUM(*) FROM kv led to stunning results.
So what’s the downside? Other than a somewhat large WebAssembly file that needs to get downloaded (409KB) and cached, there really isn’t. Of course, it’s not all roses when it comes to web development. Native SQLite runs 2-3 times faster than absurd-sql, which demonstrates how slow IndexedDB really is.
atomics.wait() allows the worker to block main thread execution until the read or write has finished. From the perspective of SQLite, the operations are synchronous. IndexedDB provides transactions so multiple connections can happen (for example multiple tabs open). Multiple readonly transactions can occur in parallel but only one readwrite transaction can be in flight.
Why not pull up your browser and start playing around with it? You’re already doomed to learn WebAssembly anyway.
Paradoxically, instead of using a browser, he uses the wasm binary toolkit to run code more like a standard assembler. And wasm — what most people call WebAssembly — isn’t like most assemblers you know. Instead of labels, there are blocks that work much more like high-level language constructs such as while loops in C.
Continue reading “You Are Doomed To Learn WebAssembly”
The electronics hobby has changed a lot since the advent of the microprocessor. Before that — and with the lack of large-scale integrated circuits — projects in magazines tended to be either super simple or ultra complex. However, one popular type of project dealt with music synthesis. Fairly simple circuits could combine to make a complex synthesizer so it was sort of the best of both worlds. Nowadays, you are more likely to tackle a music synthesizer in software like [Tim] did when he created Abelton in Web Assembly and C++. Along the way, he learned a lot about the relationship between math and music.
[Tim] covers what he learned about the Nyquist theorem and how to keep synthesis data flowing in real time with buffers. However, there are some problems trying to do all this in a cross-browser context. The
AudioWorklet class appears to have widespread support, though, and [Tim] managed to get that working.
Continue reading “Web Assembly, Music Synthesis, And The Beauty Of Math”
The compiler is free to use for GPLv2 projects. If you aren’t open yourself, it looks like you have to cut a deal to use Cheerp with its maker, Learning Technologies.
Continue reading “C++ Compiler Targets The Web”
If building a homebrew computer on a breadboard is your thing, you’re most certainly familiar with [Ben Eater], whose design of using nothing but logic gates has served as inspiration for many replicas over the years. [visrealm] took the concept and expanded upon it, even adding a 16×2 LCD that let’s you play Snake by moving a single pixel on the character display!
Making the most of tiny resolution is impressive — it’s a difficult constraint for the game field. But there are other tricks at work as well. [visrealm] uses different intensities to distinguish between the snake and its food which is kind of a dark pixel in the demo shown after the break. But what stands out most is that the breadboard build is really only half of the story. In addition, [visrealm] built an entire emulator that resembles his actual breadboard design, which can be programmed and used via browser, giving WebAssembly a whole new meaning. While that’s convenient for anyone interested to play around with these breadboard computers, but lacks the patience to build one themselves, it also functions as the real one’s programming environment. In addition, an ESP8266 is used to load a new program directly via WiFi.
All the code and some build notes are available on GitHub, and if you’re looking for a nifty LCD emulator for your web site, there’s a standalone repository for that as well. But in case you need a better display option for your own breadboard computer, how about adding a VGA connector? And if you don’t build your own yet, it’s never too late to start.
Continue reading “Breadboard Computer Plays Snake On Character Display; Also In A Browser!”