[Public WebGL] Re: [whatwg] Canvas.getContext error handling

Mikko Mononen [email protected]
Thu May 5 23:34:55 PDT 2011

On Fri, May 6, 2011 at 4:09 AM, Glenn Maynard <[email protected]> wrote:
> On Thu, May 5, 2011 at 8:00 PM, Kenneth Russell <[email protected]> wrote:
>> It sounds like my earlier objection may have caused an impasse.
> Well, we're waiting for a response on whatwg.  There's always a
> response, but it can take a while (overburdened spec editors, I
> assume).
>> To clarify, the reason for the objection was the following. If the GPU is
>> blacklisted, or some rare and unexpected error happens during OpenGL
>> context creation, then it is important to be able to communicate that
>> fact clearly to the developer, and from there to the end user.
> I know what you're saying, but to interject here: hopefully the common
> case for displaying errors won't be from the developer to the end
> user, but from the browser directly to the end user.  (They aren't
> doing this at all yet.)

As a developer I have to disagree with the idea of browser directly
talking to the user. IMHO This is different situation that a missing

Currently the situation is that a lot of the folks coming to a webgl
site can indeed see the content (in our case I think it is something
like >60%). A great deal of the rest of users can be encourage to
upgrade to a more fresh browser to make things work. That leaves us
about 10% of users who either have old or weird os/driver combination.
Those people need to be handled with developers support, because it
generally is too complicated for them to triage the problem
themselves, or it is too complicated to write comprehensive guide how
to fix things*.

There is no way my mum could understand what to do if she gets "Cannot
initialize webgl" alert box when entering a home planner site. If
simple request of upgrading a browser on developers site cannot fix
the problem, then the user needs to be channeled to the developer
support, and in that case the developer should be able to have as much
information as possible (such as the messages explained below) so the
the support can explain the user why the problem exists. Most of the
time the answer will be "you have too old computer/os", but it is nice
to be able to tell that in person, if that is the way the company
wants to handle support.

*) http://get.webgl.org/troubleshooting/ is currently so dodgy that I
do not dare to direct people there. Any change to be able to embed the
script to your own site?

> FWIW, I don't have any strong opinion either way on this.  Personally,
> I suspect the errors for the real uncommon cases (that is, anything
> except "GPU blacklisted", "GPU/drivers insufficient" or "browser
> doesn't support WebGL at all, I think) will probably not give very
> useful error messages anyway.  It'd be nice to get error messages like
> "D3D surface creation failed: error code", "WebGL not supported;
> hardware ID: Voodoo 3" or "GPU blacklisted; reason: crashy nVidia
> driver", since that would give developers a way to give at least a
> bare amount of support to their users, but I doubt browsers will ever
> expose that level of detail.  (They don't even expose a real
> --
> Glenn Maynard
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Mikko Mononen, Software Engineer
http://tinkercad.com - Solid modeling for artists & makers

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