Google showcases HTML5 with Julia Map

In an effort to extol the virtues of HTML5, Google engineers have added a new project to the Google Labs fold, and its one that might interest web developers, mathematicians, and lovers of colour alike: Julia Map.

As the name suggests, Julia Map - official unveiled by software engineer Daniel Wolf last week - renders Julia set fractals, creating colourful views into infinity that can be zoomed, scrolled, and customised directly within the browser.

Unlike other fractal generators, however, Google's Julia Map app doesn't require any plugins or add-ons. Instead, it harnesses the power of the HTML5 canvas element to carry out the calculations required to generate the fractals - each one of which can require millions of intensive floating-point operations.

In order to ensure that the fractal is generated in something like a reasonable time, the team's creation uses web workers - a specification that allows browsers to spawn multiple background processes - to ensure that calculations are carried out on as many cores of a processor as possible.

In case the above wasn't clue enough, the calculations required by the Julia Map are intensive - and while the use of the Google Maps API for zooming and panning would ordinarily result in a very smooth experience, expect all but the most powerful of systems to be brought to its knees.

The experimental project has seen rapid uptake, with users sharing their generated fractals on microblogging service Twitter under the hashtag #juliamap - and while it's nothing more than a time-waster and system stress test tool for most, it could hopefully serve as an inspiration to a new breed of web developers.

You can try the Julia Map project out for yourself by heading to the official page with an HTML5-capable browser. Make sure you've got plenty of processing power first, though.