Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

O3D: Google releases 3D API in a Browser Plugin

Category: Google, Plugins

Google has released O3D, a browser plugin that gives developers a 3D API. It sits at a slightly higher level than other APIs (such as OpenGL / Canvas 3D type implementations) so it will be interesting to see if developers like the higher level abstraction, especially for building games. These APIs can also be implemented on top of the lower level APIs, so in theory it could sit on top of Canvas 3D.

There are plenty of demos, samples of code and shaders (they created a O3D shading language.

Interestingly, it embeds V8 as the JavaScript engine which makes for a uniform engine, but unfortunately you can’t use your browser debugger (e.g. no Firebug).

It has also been carefully positioned “This API is shared at an early stage as part of a conversation with the broader developer community about establishing an open web standard for 3D graphics.”

It is interesting to see another new plugin from Google. I always hoped that Gears would be one developer plugin to rule them all but then we have the Earth API, and this (as well as the non developer ones like the defunct Lively).

Anyway, cool to see rich experiments in bringing 3D to Web developers, and I look forward to seeing what people do with it! Leisure Suit Larry 3D anyone? :)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 2:23 pm

4 rating from 55 votes


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i’m sure they are already making a leisure suit larry 3D…. for the wii…..

Comment by DarrenKopp — April 21, 2009

Lively isn’t defunct. See http://livelykernel.sunlabs.com/

Comment by fil — April 21, 2009


the Lively Kernel effort significantly predates Google’s Lively 3D world and that it survives is no shock. It’s not related in any way.


Comment by slightlyoff — April 21, 2009

It seems Firebug is still usable: “Q: How do I inspect O3D objects in Firebug? A: Run Firefox 3.0+.” (http://code.google.com/apis/o3d/docs/faqs.html).

Comment by alexkunin — April 21, 2009

Yeah, it’d be nice if they could beef up the IE version of Gears at least – add in better Javascript, and maybe some WebKit ported things like Canvas and SVG. That’d be sweet.

Comment by CaptainN — April 21, 2009

I wouldn’t call the o3d plugin higher level, necessarily — while it provides a nice scene graph abstraction for performance reasons, you can have parameter-driven fragment and vertex shaders running full speed on the GPU and tweak every point and pixel procedurally if you need that.

You also can use your browser’s JS engine and selectively run computationally intensive code in V8.

Comment by gavindoughtie — April 21, 2009

Awesome. It’s on the plate right after C#+HLSL, Objective C+OpenGL ES, Flash+Away3d, and lwjgl+applets – so basically never.

Honestly it looks like someone got excited during their 20% but I don’t seeing this making it in the long run.

Comment by ilazarte — April 21, 2009

3D or not, the most amazing stuff seems the capability to use V8 engine in other browsers, delegating to this extremely fast engine computations and/or other tasks.
If Google will create an Internet Explorer plugin able to switch on V8 engine in the DOM as well, we could finally start to develop web applications as we dreamed for ages!!!

Comment by WebReflection — April 22, 2009

Does this mean that IE will run Crysis in 2010?

I guess not. Nothing can or will ever be able to run Crysis.

Comment by BonoboBoner — April 22, 2009

Interesting to see another 32-bit-only plugin from Google when a lot of developers work on 64-bit systems (anyone with 4 GB of RAM here?). I wonder if that choice reflects a standard development system configuration inside Google or what?

Comment by pmontrasio — April 22, 2009

@pmontrasio … compatibility and portability … if it rocks in old PCs of course will rock even more once optimized for 64 as well ;-)

P.S. I have nothing 64bit here and I do not want/need it so far …

Comment by WebReflection — April 22, 2009

A made a quick little screencast to show some cool possibilities with google o3d and desktop applications using it inside Titanium. http://titaniumapp.com


opens up some very interesting possibilities for desktop based gaming, 3d virtualization, etc on the desktop using HTML and JS.

Comment by jhaynie — April 24, 2009

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