Before I start let me make a disclaimer, I am going to talk about stuff here that is possible with HTML5 and CSS3, not things that will happen with deviantART muro or the site in general. I do not know what is in the development stage with deviantART, this is just an article about the strength of 2 web technologies and how deviantART is pushing the web forward.
Now, in the last 24 hours I've seen a lot of people compare Muro to programs like Adobe Photoshop or The Gimp as well as web applications like iSketch. I'd like to start by explaining why Muro is so different.
- Why use deviantART muro when I already have Adobe Photoshop or The Gimp?
- Yes, photoshop is hugely more powerful than muro, it has a lot more functions, you can use it for so much more, I am aware of this, I use Adobe Photoshop myself. However, you have to pay hundreds of dollars for a single license to use Photoshop, muro is free. Photoshop requires a large amount of system processes to run, by default it will use about half of the RAM in your PC and and about half of your CPU. The current version of Photoshop also requires several gigabytes of storage space just for the program it's self.
- The Gimp, yes that's free, but you have to download and install it and again it requires a fair chunk of system resources to use and you have to be able to install it to your computer.
- deviantART muro is free to use, go ahead, you can go use it now without paying a single cent, there are some optional extra brushes which look really cool and I want them, but, you are not required to buy them in order to use deviantART muro You also do not have to install deviantART muro to your computer, that means, provided you have internet access and a HTML5 compatible browser, you can use deviantART muro anywhere in the world. Is that cool or what?
- iSketch already exists, deviantART muro is just the same as that.
- The basic concept of drawing in a browser is not a new one and I doubt anyone will disagree there. Oekaki boards have existed for years and so have apps like iSketch. However, iSketch requires you to install several additional plugins to use it, it needs flash and shockwaves, I wouldn't be surprised if you needed Java as well. These things are not native to browsers, you're going to have to download and install them.
- Muro is so buggy it's hard to use!
Now this one is a little hard, bare with me and hopefully I can explain why it might be buggy.
As I've stated earlier deviantART muro uses HTML5, now this is fantastic, HTML5 is long overdue, HTML as a code was getting stagnant, it was too simplistic and people couldn't do that much with it, so they went looking at different web languages to get more functionality in their web sites and make them more "web 2.0". Now that HTML5 and CSS3 are well into the production stages things are getting back to native browser support, video sites are already starting to use HTML5 instead of embedding extra code into web pages and websites everywhere are using CSS3 to do visual effects that previously required an image to do before. This means pages will load smoother, quicker and with less strain on your resources and the websites resources.
But with any new tech that comes along there is a gap between what is possible and what people will support when it is launched. Microsoft Internet Explorer is historically incredibly poor at accepting new web technology, that is why some websites just look terrible in it. It's rather sad really when you think about it that the biggest browser in the world displays the internet so poorly. Google and Apple however seem to be great at adopting new tech as quickly as possible, Mozilla are some what hit and miss, sometimes they will be a mile ahead of the competition, other times they lag behind. HTML5 is where Mozilla are currently lagging behind while Google Chrome and Apple Safari support it much more.
But Dom, what does this really mean for me, get to the point.
What this means is. If you're using IE or Firefox to use deviantART muro you're going to potentially experience problems. Not because deviantART muro is buggy or badly coded. No, you're going to experience problems because these browsers aren't ready for the power of deviantART muro yet. Don't worry though, they will update them, they will get HTML5 in the near future, Firefox is in a constant state of being updated, meaning we could see HTML5 support tomorrow, or we could see it in 6 months, who knows. Microsoft are also currently building IE9, so when that is launched, IE users, should (coders everywhere pray) have full access to all HTML and CSS (including the new versions I'm talking about here). When that happens the majority of users all over the internet will have a browser that supports deviantART muro fully. But because this is new technology, please, please, please, don't expect it to work with an old browser like IE6. You will need to be using a updated browser to use it.
- Why use new technology if it's not supported by all browsers?
This is the place any market leader should be, whether it's a store, a program, an idea, anything. You do not move forward by living within the confines of what we have now. Making a step like deviantART muro is saying to the people that write the webstandards "this is what we can do with the technology you have given us, give us more so we can use it further". It is saying to the people that write the browsers "We are using this technology now, you need to catch up with us".
You know? When dA says things like that, people listen. There are 14 and a half million accounts on dA, there are millions of pageviews to dA every single day, dA is ranked 115 in the world according to alexa.com. deviantART muro is dA right on the cutting edge of technology, doing things that have NEVER been done before with the code. This is a very exciting time and I can tell you that it makes me immensely happy to see deviantART doing this.
So tell me what else is possible then?
As you might have noticed, I keep mentioning HTML5 what does it mean in the long run?
HTML is the power that drives almost everything around the internet. Every page you look at on deviantART has HTML on it, even the chat rooms. As you might have seen in the Drawplz Forum deviantART muro can be implemented into comment boxes. Now the way deviantART comments work is virtually identical all the way through the website, so it's entirely plausible that deviantART muro could be put onto user page, into notes, it could even be put into the chatrooms. Does that not sound incredibly cool?
Think about it, anywhere you can type on dA, you could draw there also, how awesome is that? And that's just based on current deviantART muro functionality, I can't even begin to imagine what deviantART could do with muro in terms of extra functionality, the sky is the limit. deviantART has some absolute geniuses working for the user interface and devious technology teams. They can do things with code that most of us haven't dreamt about yet, all you need to do is trust in them to deliver to us and we will get some unimaginably good things from them.
This also marks a notable move towards pushing new web technologies, so you can easily expect to see CSS3 coming in to the picture more noticeably soon, you can already see it in this some user created journal skins (if you use a compatible browser). Things like curved corners used to require images and lots of lines of code, now it's just 1 line and no images. I tell it how big I want the radius to be and which corners I want it on. CSS3 also allows lots of text effects that before had to be images, see where this is going? Image dependency is being lowered which allows for faster loading times and less strain on browsers and connections. CSS3 also fixes things that are a bother to people, things like long words breaking a text area, with CSS3 text can be wrapped so that it won't cause page distortion. It allows for websites to host a font and then use it, meaning they're not stuck with the generic 10 or so different fonts that everyone gets.
And while on the subject.
Why must we pay for extra functions?
At the end of the day dA needs money to survive. Things cost money, storage space, web servers, premises, internet connections, staff to run it. This all has to be recouped somewhere. Now whilst something like deviantART muro will have undoubtedly cost a lot (read tens of thousands of dollars) to make, you can be guaranteed that it will pay for itself and then some. Features like this always do, they are what bring in new users, new investors, they are the driving force that helps dA remain fresh. An investor will look at dA and see that it's constantly pushing the boundaries in what technology can do, or how far a art/social networking site can go and they will want to be a part of it.
But it also requires something of the users that are willing to pay towards the website. You've just been given a program that would cost $50 to buy in a store, for free, for 14 and a half million users, think about that. When you take that into consideration, is it really so terrible to be asked to pay $4 to buy a pack of brushes for deviantART muro? I know that some people simply can't afford it or don't have the means to pay, but that is why you're not forced to buy the brushes. You can already use deviantART muro as it is. If you do have the means and money to pay, then it's not any more than buying a coffee from Starbucks. At the end of the day, these few little bits help to go into paying for deviantART muro as well as other new features and existing costs.
So, if you've read this and love what deviantART muro is and could be, then please, go show your support to #dt and #ui let them know how much the way deviantART looks and works means to you. Because it means a whole hell of a lot to me.