deviantART proudly touts itself as the “the largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts with over 19 million registered members, attracting 45 million unique visitors per month.” It is quite similar in concept to flickr, with the peer review and community aspects being much more pronounced. It offers its members a relatively unrestricted environment where artists can share and discuss their works and collaborate in a friendly atmosphere. Artworks are organised in a hierarchical category structure, including photography, traditional art, digital art, applications skins and videos. Beside offering standard social network functionalities, such as following members and sending private messages, the site has a print service, a subscription program, private journals and user definable polls among many others.
On August 7, 2010 deviantART celebrated its 10th birthday by launching a browser-based drawing tool called Muro. Muro is the perfect example of putting cutting-edge HTML5 technology to good use: it uses the HTML Canvas element (originally introduced by Apple in 2004, now officially part of the HTML5 standard) for all its drawing operations. The novel drawing tool can, without any exaggeration, be considered a huge success—according to its author, a new completed artwork is submitted using Muro to deviantART’s servers in about every 5 seconds. If all unfinished drawings are taken into account as well, the number would be much higher. Being based on HTML5 technology, users are not limited to just drawing on a desktop computer with a mouse; Muro works flawlessly on an iPad or any other touchscreen device that supports HTML5.
Below is the final result the author of this article was able to come up with after a short 5 minute introduction to Muro:
And here is a screencast of Muro in action in somewhat more skilled hands:
Implications & Future Directions
While in its current form Muro is by no means a serious contender to industry heavy-weights like Adobe Photoshop, it is quite easy to see that rich web applications are here to stay for a long time to come. There is a very important paradigm shift going on currently as we’re transitioning from the classical desktop computing model to the rich web application approach, where both application and data are stored in the cloud, and the user’s computer (or hand-held device, for the matter) will only play the role of a clever “terminal”. While web applications have not reached the sophistication of desktop apps in every aspect yet, that day is coming nearer and and nearer and the interesting question is what will the computing landscape look like after that point? While we can’t say it now for sure, every sign shows that we won’t have too wait long for the answer.
Wikipedia – Rich Internet application
Wikipedia – Web application
Wikipedia – deviantArt
Wikipedia – Canvas element
deviantART – about deviantART
deviantART – A Web Site Review
Case Study: HTML5 in deviantArt muro
DeviantART Muro is an HTML5 Drawing App that Works on Your iPad