Is HTML 5 + Javascript The Future Of Synthesis?

Browser Based Music Software: This video demonstrates a HTML 5 + Javascript synthesizer running in a modified version of Firefox (Minefield).

We’ve seen some impressive browser-based synths and virtual music studios, like AudioTool, in the past, but they were Flash-based.

By building music apps on Web standards like HTML 5 & Javascript, it should eventually be possible to create browser-based music applications that run on the Web, on iPhones, iPads and a variety of other platforms.

I’m a little skeptical about the prospects for browser-based synthesis, especially when you consider the relatively glacial evolution of browser-based synths vs other platforms. It’s clear, though, that there will be a place for this sort of thing.

What do you think of this HTML 5 synth – and the idea of browser-based synths in general?

via Corban Brook

57 thoughts on “Is HTML 5 + Javascript The Future Of Synthesis?

  1. I don't get it..would this be for collaboration between two people
    across the internet and in real time ? otherwise I don't see the
    purpose. It seems to me to be more gimmick than anything.

  2. I don't get it..would this be for collaboration between two people
    across the internet and in real time ? otherwise I don't see the
    purpose. It seems to me to be more gimmick than anything.

  3. I don't get it..would this be for collaboration between two people
    across the internet and in real time ? otherwise I don't see the
    purpose. It seems to me to be more gimmick than anything.

  4. Only reason for this, that comes to mind is collaboration and even then why Browser Based? I would think then it would be lighter on the CPU but hey, looking at the amount of work my processor is doing at this moment with my browser open i dont think thats the case.

    Sort of reminds me of the hook from the song Ayo Technology!

  5. Further on the interoperability front:

    In the past, HTML has been almost completely ignorant of, and sanboxed from, the hardware that the browser runs on. But with local caching of data becoming a standard in HTML5 I feel this is just the start of a move towards greater accesibility of external (to the browser) hardware. What if a MIDI or OSC abstraction became part of the HTML standard?

    All we really need to get started is a MIDI or OSC API plugin for even just one browser (say Firefox). This doesn't give us the cross platform Utopia I mentioned, but at least it starts the conversation. Proof of concept apps can be made and they can interface with existing kit via MIDI.

    The next step is a VSTi plugin bridge and/or Rewire support so you can integrate a HTML synth or sequencer with your existing DAW.

    This is how web standards eventually get made, they are largely a reaction to existing usage of the web to streamline and standardise what is already being done.

  6. Sam_K, it all sounds confusing to me, maybe it's because I have no freaking clue what the hell you are talking about. I don't know anything about HTML5 or java. I'm not bashing it, maybe I am just too old skool. but then again, I don't get this toy they call iPad either. I pay $200.00 for a VSTi plugin for my real machine, and little johnny pays $10.00 for his plugin for his little toy iPad.

    nevermind me…LOL..change is not always good in my book. πŸ™‚

  7. I guess I am in the fortunate position of having worked in the web apps biz for 8 years (but not for the last 3) so I know what all this stuff looks like under the hood.

    Back before "Web 2.0" happened I used to scoff at the idea of the web delivering "applications" that were on par with the user experience of desktop apps. I just coudn't see it, and I worked in the indsutry! Then I saw Google Maps for the first time, and was totally blown away. These days rich, asynchronous GUIs are de-rigeur for the web.

    Just a week ago I was talking with some friends about Apple passing Microsoft in share value and how times had changed. One of my friends commented that Apple is no longer the underdog anymore which raised the question of just who is the new unsung champion? I concluded that the application platform of the future is HTML5, not a desktop OS. Then I see this article which, in a small way, is helping to confirm my prediction,

    This time around, I will not make that same mistake of short sightedness again that I made regarding Web 2.0.

  8. It's a fascinating technical demonstration – but when you get beyond that and start asking questions – like how do you make music with this sort of thing – there aren't any answers yet.

  9. As someone who is fluent in HTML and Javascript, I am very intrigued by the possibilities.

    I can see people releasing Javascript libraries that provide API functions for all manner of synthesis and sequencing functions, and then you can build your own synth and/or sequencing machines using these APIs with a custom interface in HTML.

    Put this on a touch screen and it's like Reaktor, TouchOSC and Max4Live all rolled into one with almost unlimited flexibility!

    The key will of course be performance, but that always ends up becoming a non-problem over time.

  10. As someone who is fluent in HTML and Javascript, I am very intrigued by the possibilities.

    I can see people releasing Javascript libraries that provide API functions for all manner of synthesis and sequencing functions, and then you can build your own synth and/or sequencing machines using these APIs with a custom interface in HTML.

    Put this on a touch screen and it's like Reaktor, TouchOSC and Max4Live all rolled into one with almost unlimited flexibility!

    The key will of course be performance, but that always ends up becoming a non-problem over time.

  11. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the biggest advantage! HTML/JS is the most ubiquitous, cross compatible software platform out there, so you can instantly run your (or others) creations on just about any gadget you own. (performance permitting (which, again, becomes less of a problem over time))

    This IS the future, at least for those who enjoy supporting open standards and stuff that is easy to tinker with.

  12. a couple of things:
    1). Will it support device integration – can it connect to my other devices?
    2). Will it have the performance I need?

    I agree with Sam; performance will improve over time like any other technology.

    I'm skeptical of the feasibility of device integration. I could be wrong, but I doubt I'll be able to get this to interface with my MachineDrum or Virus or even Ableton for a few years. Users will likely have to download a plug-in or some add-on.

    Standards are very, VERY slow. I agree with the author: these things tend to move at glacial speeds.

    Underestimating open standards is ill-advised. But lauding this as the future of music rings hollow to me when the horizon is set so far.

  13. a couple of things:
    1). Will it support device integration – can it connect to my other devices?
    2). Will it have the performance I need?

    I agree with Sam; performance will improve over time like any other technology.

    I'm skeptical of the feasibility of device integration. I could be wrong, but I doubt I'll be able to get this to interface with my MachineDrum or Virus or even Ableton for a few years. Users will likely have to download a plug-in or some add-on.

    Standards are very, VERY slow. I agree with the author: these things tend to move at glacial speeds.

    Underestimating open standards is ill-advised. But lauding this as the future of music rings hollow to me when the horizon is set so far.

  14. a couple of things:
    1). Will it support device integration – can it connect to my other devices?
    2). Will it have the performance I need?

    I agree with Sam; performance will improve over time like any other technology.

    I'm skeptical of the feasibility of device integration. I could be wrong, but I doubt I'll be able to get this to interface with my MachineDrum or Virus or even Ableton for a few years. Users will likely have to download a plug-in or some add-on.

    Standards are very, VERY slow. I agree with the author: these things tend to move at glacial speeds.

    Underestimating open standards is ill-advised. But lauding this as the future of music rings hollow to me when the horizon is set so far.

  15. a couple of things:
    1). Will it support device integration – can it connect to my other devices?
    2). Will it have the performance I need?

    I agree with Sam; performance will improve over time like any other technology.

    I'm skeptical of the feasibility of device integration. I could be wrong, but I doubt I'll be able to get this to interface with my MachineDrum or Virus or even Ableton for a few years. Users will likely have to download a plug-in or some add-on.

    Standards are very, VERY slow. I agree with the author: these things tend to move at glacial speeds.

    Underestimating open standards is ill-advised. But lauding this as the future of music rings hollow to me when the horizon is set so far.

  16. Despite my earlier gushings, I totally agree with you.

    In my defence I didn't mention a time frame. πŸ˜‰

    I could see a VSTi plugin bridge going a long way to joining HTML5 music apps with existing DAWs

  17. Despite my earlier gushings, I totally agree with you.

    In my defence I didn't mention a time frame. πŸ˜‰

    I could see a VSTi plugin bridge going a long way to joining HTML5 music apps with existing DAWs

  18. Further on the interoperability front:

    In the past, HTML has been almost completely ignorant of, and sanboxed from, the hardware that the browser runs on. But with local caching of data becoming a standard in HTML5 I feel this is just the start of a move towards greater accesibility of external (to the browser) hardware. What if a MIDI or OSC abstraction became part of the HTML standard?

    All we really need to get started is a MIDI or OSC API plugin for even just one browser (say Firefox). This doesn't give us the cross platform Utopia I mentioned, but at least it starts the conversation. Proof of concept apps can be made and they can interface with existing kit via MIDI.

    The next step is a VSTi plugin bridge and/or Rewire support so you can integrate a HTML synth or sequencer with your existing DAW.

    This is how web standards eventually get made, they are largely a reaction to existing usage of the web to streamline and standardise what is already being done.

  19. Further on the interoperability front:

    In the past, HTML has been almost completely ignorant of, and sanboxed from, the hardware that the browser runs on. But with local caching of data becoming a standard in HTML5 I feel this is just the start of a move towards greater accesibility of external (to the browser) hardware. What if a MIDI or OSC abstraction became part of the HTML standard?

    All we really need to get started is a MIDI or OSC API plugin for even just one browser (say Firefox). This doesn't give us the cross platform Utopia I mentioned, but at least it starts the conversation. Proof of concept apps can be made and they can interface with existing kit via MIDI.

    The next step is a VSTi plugin bridge and/or Rewire support so you can integrate a HTML synth or sequencer with your existing DAW.

    This is how web standards eventually get made, they are largely a reaction to existing usage of the web to streamline and standardise what is already being done.

  20. Further on the interoperability front:

    In the past, HTML has been almost completely ignorant of, and sanboxed from, the hardware that the browser runs on. But with local caching of data becoming a standard in HTML5 I feel this is just the start of a move towards greater accesibility of external (to the browser) hardware. What if a MIDI or OSC abstraction became part of the HTML standard?

    All we really need to get started is a MIDI or OSC API plugin for even just one browser (say Firefox). This doesn't give us the cross platform Utopia I mentioned, but at least it starts the conversation. Proof of concept apps can be made and they can interface with existing kit via MIDI.

    The next step is a VSTi plugin bridge and/or Rewire support so you can integrate a HTML synth or sequencer with your existing DAW.

    This is how web standards eventually get made, they are largely a reaction to existing usage of the web to streamline and standardise what is already being done.

  21. Sam_K, it all sounds confusing to me, maybe it's because I have no freaking clue what the hell you are talking about. I don't know anything about HTML5 or java. I'm not bashing it, maybe I am just too old skool. but then again, I don't get this toy they call iPad either. I pay $200.00 for a VSTi plugin for my real machine, and little johnny pays $10.00 for his plugin for his little toy iPad.

    nevermind me…LOL..change is not always good in my book. πŸ™‚

  22. Sam_K, it all sounds confusing to me, maybe it's because I have no freaking clue what the hell you are talking about. I don't know anything about HTML5 or java. I'm not bashing it, maybe I am just too old skool. but then again, I don't get this toy they call iPad either. I pay $200.00 for a VSTi plugin for my real machine, and little johnny pays $10.00 for his plugin for his little toy iPad.

    nevermind me…LOL..change is not always good in my book. πŸ™‚

  23. I guess I am in the fortunate position of having worked in the web apps biz for 8 years (but not for the last 3) so I know what all this stuff looks like under the hood.

    Back before "Web 2.0" happened I used to scoff at the idea of the web delivering "applications" that were on par with the user experience of desktop apps. I just coudn't see it, and I worked in the indsutry! Then I saw Google Maps for the first time, and was totally blown away. These days rich, asynchronous GUIs are de-rigeur for the web.

    Just a week ago I was talking with some friends about Apple passing Microsoft in share value and how times had changed. One of my friends commented that Apple is no longer the underdog anymore which raised the question of just who is the new unsung champion? I concluded that the application platform of the future is HTML5, not a desktop OS. Then I see this article which, in a small way, is helping to confirm my prediction,

    This time around, I will not make that same mistake of short sightedness again that I made regarding Web 2.0.

  24. I guess I am in the fortunate position of having worked in the web apps biz for 8 years (but not for the last 3) so I know what all this stuff looks like under the hood.

    Back before "Web 2.0" happened I used to scoff at the idea of the web delivering "applications" that were on par with the user experience of desktop apps. I just coudn't see it, and I worked in the indsutry! Then I saw Google Maps for the first time, and was totally blown away. These days rich, asynchronous GUIs are de-rigeur for the web.

    Just a week ago I was talking with some friends about Apple passing Microsoft in share value and how times had changed. One of my friends commented that Apple is no longer the underdog anymore which raised the question of just who is the new unsung champion? I concluded that the application platform of the future is HTML5, not a desktop OS. Then I see this article which, in a small way, is helping to confirm my prediction,

    This time around, I will not make that same mistake of short sightedness again that I made regarding Web 2.0.

  25. It's a fascinating technical demonstration – but when you get beyond that and start asking questions – like how do you make music with this sort of thing – there aren't any answers yet.

  26. It's a fascinating technical demonstration – but when you get beyond that and start asking questions – like how do you make music with this sort of thing – there aren't any answers yet.

  27. This makes me want to cry.

    We build faster and faster processors with all kinds of new SIMD extensions for faster processing which should lead to more accurate synthesis and emulations, and now we're implementing synthesizers in javascript? Next thing we'll be implementing javascript in basic too.

    Layer upon layer of abstraction..

  28. I really wanted Linux to be the next great thing for a very, very long time, I really did. But if Linux was ever going to reach the critical mass to become a serious desktop contender it would have done so already.

    The perfect time for the rise of dekstop Linux was when MS launched Vista and it was a massive flop. But Linux was not then, is not now, and will never be up to scratch as a "mom n pop's mainstream desktop" OS. Why? Because the people who work on it don't want it to be that, which is fine.

    Linux is an OS by propellerheads for propellerheads and is awesome at propellerhead things like running servers and embedded systems or being a desktop OS for programmers.

  29. This makes me want to cry.

    We build faster and faster processors with all kinds of new SIMD extensions for faster processing which should lead to more accurate synthesis and emulations, and now we're implementing synthesizers in javascript? Next thing we'll be implementing javascript in basic too.

    Layer upon layer of abstraction..

  30. This makes me want to cry.

    We build faster and faster processors with all kinds of new SIMD extensions for faster processing which should lead to more accurate synthesis and emulations, and now we're implementing synthesizers in javascript? Next thing we'll be implementing javascript in basic too.

    Layer upon layer of abstraction..

  31. This makes me want to cry.

    We build faster and faster processors with all kinds of new SIMD extensions for faster processing which should lead to more accurate synthesis and emulations, and now we're implementing synthesizers in javascript? Next thing we'll be implementing javascript in basic too.

    Layer upon layer of abstraction..

  32. This makes me want to cry.

    We build faster and faster processors with all kinds of new SIMD extensions for faster processing which should lead to more accurate synthesis and emulations, and now we're implementing synthesizers in javascript? Next thing we'll be implementing javascript in basic too.

    Layer upon layer of abstraction..

  33. I really wanted Linux to be the next great thing for a very, very long time, I really did. But if Linux was ever going to reach the critical mass to become a serious desktop contender it would have done so already.

    The perfect time for the rise of dekstop Linux was when MS launched Vista and it was a massive flop. But Linux was not then, is not now, and will never be up to scratch as a "mom n pop's mainstream desktop" OS. Why? Because the people who work on it don't want it to be that, which is fine.

    Linux is an OS by propellerheads for propellerheads and is awesome at propellerhead things like running servers and embedded systems or being a desktop OS for programmers.

  34. I really wanted Linux to be the next great thing for a very, very long time, I really did. But if Linux was ever going to reach the critical mass to become a serious desktop contender it would have done so already.

    The perfect time for the rise of dekstop Linux was when MS launched Vista and it was a massive flop. But Linux was not then, is not now, and will never be up to scratch as a "mom n pop's mainstream desktop" OS. Why? Because the people who work on it don't want it to be that, which is fine.

    Linux is an OS by propellerheads for propellerheads and is awesome at propellerhead things like running servers and embedded systems or being a desktop OS for programmers.

  35. I really wanted Linux to be the next great thing for a very, very long time, I really did. But if Linux was ever going to reach the critical mass to become a serious desktop contender it would have done so already.

    The perfect time for the rise of dekstop Linux was when MS launched Vista and it was a massive flop. But Linux was not then, is not now, and will never be up to scratch as a "mom n pop's mainstream desktop" OS. Why? Because the people who work on it don't want it to be that, which is fine.

    Linux is an OS by propellerheads for propellerheads and is awesome at propellerhead things like running servers and embedded systems or being a desktop OS for programmers.

  36. I really wanted Linux to be the next great thing for a very, very long time, I really did. But if Linux was ever going to reach the critical mass to become a serious desktop contender it would have done so already.

    The perfect time for the rise of dekstop Linux was when MS launched Vista and it was a massive flop. But Linux was not then, is not now, and will never be up to scratch as a "mom n pop's mainstream desktop" OS. Why? Because the people who work on it don't want it to be that, which is fine.

    Linux is an OS by propellerheads for propellerheads and is awesome at propellerhead things like running servers and embedded systems or being a desktop OS for programmers.

  37. Responding to several negative comments about performance, I agree that there is a long way to go, but I also think it's a case of "build it and they will come". With "it" being killer apps, and "they" being high performance browsers optimised for the next generation of web apps.

  38. Responding to several negative comments about performance, I agree that there is a long way to go, but I also think it's a case of "build it and they will come". With "it" being killer apps, and "they" being high performance browsers optimised for the next generation of web apps.

  39. Responding to several negative comments about performance, I agree that there is a long way to go, but I also think it's a case of "build it and they will come". With "it" being killer apps, and "they" being high performance browsers optimised for the next generation of web apps.

  40. Responding to several negative comments about performance, I agree that there is a long way to go, but I also think it's a case of "build it and they will come". With "it" being killer apps, and "they" being high performance browsers optimised for the next generation of web apps.

  41. I’m playing with writing midi through a java applet (see fugue).

    There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to develop open source browser solutions that interface to existing open source solutions.

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