Tilt is a Firefox extension that lets you visualize any web page DOM tree in 3D. It is being developed by Victor Porof (3D developer responsible with the Firefox extension itself), along with Cedric Vivier (creating a WebGL optimized equivalent to the privileged canvas.drawWindow, see #653656) and Rob Campbell (who first thought about creating a 3D visualization of a webpage). Everything started initially as a Google Summer of Code project, but now, with an enthusiastic team behind it and so many new features and ideas, it has become an active Developer Tools project.
Tilt is a fun new Firefox extension focused on creating a 3D visualization of a webpage.
Since the DOM is essentially a tree-like representation of a document, this tool layers each node based on the nesting in the tree, creating stacks of elements, each having a corresponding depth and being textured according to the webpage rendering itself.
Unlike other developer tools or inspectors, Tilt allows for instant analysis of the relationship between various parts of a webpage in a graphical way, but also making it easy for someone to see obscured or out-of-page elements. Moreover, besides the 3D stacks, various information is available on request, regarding each node’s type, id, class, or other attributes if available, providing a way to inspect (and edit) the inner HTML and other properties.
Based on WebGL
The visualization is drawn using WebGL, for dynamic, fast, in-browser rendering. At initialization, Tilt creates individual 3D objects (structures describing how the webpage geometry looks like) using the DOM, with the BODY as the lowest layer and the base of the document upon which descendant nodes are layered. For each successive level, another platform is built, adding depth to the 3D webpage mesh. For example, stacks are built from DIVs, ULs, or any containing node with children.
Controlling the visualization is achieved using a virtual trackball (arcball), which rotates around the X and Y axes. Other mouse events exist to control yaw, pitch, roll, pan, zoom, as well as various additional keyboard shortcuts. The controller is not tied to these peripherals only however, making it accessible and easily scalable for other input methods or devices. Double clicking a node brings up the Ace Cloud9 IDE editor, showing more useful information about the node and the inner HTML.
You can find the Tilt source code and the latest extension builds on Github, and a development blog with milestone updates on blog.mozilla.com/tilt.
For now, to test the extension, just download the latest stable build (tilt.xpi: download the file, then open it with Firefox or drag’n drop it on Firefox), install it and search for Tilt inside the Tools menu. Or, you can use Ctrl+Shift+L (or Cmd+Shift+L if you’re on a Mac) to start the visualization. Close it at any time with the Esc key. Tilt works with any webpage, so you can even inspect this blog to see how it looks in 3D.
More features are soon to be added, some of which include: modifying and updating the 3D webpage mesh on the fly (as the webpage changes, exposing CSS transforms for each node, plus customizing stack spacing, thickness, transparency etc.), rendering elements with absolute position or floats differently (e.g., hovering above the webpage based on their z-index), creating a more developer-friendly environment and better integration with the Ace editor and the Firefox Developer Tools. (highlighting the currently selected node, instant 3D preview), exporting the visualization to other browsers or applications (as a 3D object file, probably .obj and/or COLLADA).
The greatest milestone will be achieving seamless 3D navigation between webpages, as in a normal 2D environment.
For more information about upcoming tasks visit the TODO.md list.
About Paul Rouget
Paul is a Firefox developer.