Facebook has released a benchmark designed to help developers test just how powerful desktop and mobile browsers are at running a new generation of games built with a new generation of Web standards.
It's only at version 0.1, so expect lots of changes. So far, though, Microsoft's upcoming IE9 crushes the competition on the speed test, with the Windows version of Google's upcoming Chrome 10 in second place.
Mobile browsers are particularly important at Facebook, and the new benchmark fits in there, too. "JSGameBench generally works on mobile browsers, but properly abstracted touch and gesture events are key to games working across multiple phones," Ondrejka said.
Ondrejka, by the way, has an interesting history in the digital realm. After a falling out in 2007, he left the chief technology officer job at Linden Lab, which operates the Second Life virtual world, then spent some time at music label EMI. After that stint, he worked on a variety of programming projects then co-founded a start-up called Walletin with his friend Bruce Rogers. Facebook hired the pair before the project got off the ground.
Browser performance is tricky to quantify, in part because there are so many possible things to measure. In that, it's like just about every other benchmark: its relevance is limited by how well its tests represent real-world challenges. A benchmark limited to gaming applications has similar issues of scope, but it is a narrower task than analyzing all possible Web-based programs.
Microsoft, as part of its effort to promote IE9 and its hardware acceleration, is also interested in showcasing performance with a series of browser games and demos on its Internet Explorer Test Drive site.
Microsoft may have idled through the last decade of browser activity, but it's fully awake now with IE9. It's got a competitive browser almost done, it's engaged in setting Web standards, and it's got its technical marketing team in high gear.