If you look at the Google homepage today you will notice at the bottom of the screen a little teaser that says “Rockstars wanted: Jam with your friends in Chrome”. Now I’ve always dreamed of being a rockstar and I’m not going to let minor trivia such as the facts that I cannot play any musical instrument or read music put me off and so I clicked on the link. You get taken through to one of Google’s experiments that demonstrates the power of HTML5.
From the splash screen click on “Enter” and you are taken through to a place with a plethora of drums, guitars, keyboards and drum machines. You pick your instrument and you are given a choice between playing the instrument entirely by yourself or by getting a little help from Google so that it plays a tune but by clicking on a guitar string you can change things a little. You can set factors such as the key and tempo from a menu system. Perhaps the best feature is the fact that you can also invite up to four friends to really get a full sound and text chat with them. The most fun I have had has been with the drum kits.
The technology behind this particular Google experiment is interesting. Sound is obviously of paramount importance and Google have used the Web Audio API which allows the creation of very sophisticated collections of sounds within the browser without processing individual audio streams. I was wondering how they were able to create the multiple user portion of the system and the answer to that is through the use of HTML5 websockets that allows ultra responsive two way communication between server and browser. If websockets had not been used then it is unlikely that the project would be successful. The graphics take advantage of the Canvas feature of HTML5 and there is a lot of CSS3 to style the page.
In addition the page was coded using Go, a new programming language from Google and it was this that enabled the websockets used to make the multiple user experience so good. Finally the application was built and hosted on App Engine, a cloud platform from Google.
As with many of these experiments they give us a glimpse today of what the web of tomorrow is likely to look like. If Google’s Jam with Chrome is anything to go by then I cannot wait for tomorrow!