Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

First sign of WebGL lands in WebKit

Category: 3D, Games

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Jeffrey Rosen has taken a look at a preview of WebGL landing in the WebKit project. The demo above is an example of this work (here in HD):

WebGL is basically an initiative to bring 3D graphics into web browsers natively, without having to download any plugins. This is achieved by adding a few things to HTML5, namely, defining a JavaScript binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 and letting you draw things into a 3D context of the canvas element.

It is interesting to compare this low level API to O3D which is a scene graph API from Google (Google also supports WebGL, via the O3D team also, and sees the APIs as complimentary). They are very different APIs taking drastically different approaches. One gives you a new API but a higher level one that may appeal to JS developers more, whilst the other is very familiar to a certain set of developers and would be easier to port work. Ideally, someone will Processing/jQuery-inize WebGL to give it some nice high level love too.

Fun times with 3D and the Web! Great to see WebKit and Gecko doing great things with WebGL already.

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Posted by Dion Almaer at 6:18 am
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But, the most important question remains: when, if ever, will microsoft implement it?

Comment by Joeri — September 15, 2009

Why do you even ask that question while you already know the answer of it..

Comment by V1 — September 15, 2009

…And do we even care, they can marginalize themselves all they want.

Comment by Transfinite — September 15, 2009

Awesome! Hope to see it broadly implemented in a not too far away future. Maybe those features will be the begin of Flash(r)’s downturn as first choice for multimedia-intensive applications.

Comment by PeterGeil — September 15, 2009

Forget about Microsoft for now – they’ll never implement this in IE. Why this is so exciting is that mobile devices that use WebKit (iPhone, Palm Pre etc) will have native 3D in a browser. The desktop market is more difficult, as MS are so entrenched, but the mobile market is going more and more in WebKits direction, so great things could happen there.

Comment by sos — September 15, 2009

“jQuery-inizing” high-level API’s is a bad idea to start with. A lot of people start throwing jquery into the mix where it’s not even needed or even geared towards such a thing. The best high-level API on top of this would be one without a framework.

Comment by Jadet — September 15, 2009

More(*) ideally, someone will implement a declarative 3D language on top of it. Say COLLADA, VRML/X3D or some JSON version of those.

Even more ideally, find a way to make 3D objects accessible through the DOM. I hope there’s still a way out of that procedural canvassy mindset.

(*) I don’t believe in Platonism. There’s always a better ideal.

Comment by randomrandom — September 15, 2009

@Joeri

Heard of O3D? It’s leaps and bounds ahead of any other in-browser 3D technology, and it works in IE.

Comment by Darkimmortal — September 15, 2009

We ought to develop applications and games that utilize the WebGL standard, and just post a notice on sites that tells people they need to download a WebGL-supporting browser. The demand for the awesome apps/games we develop will override the resistance to downloading another browser, especially if people are already somehow familiar with the games/apps. Think Quake 3D, Unreal Tournament, or even Tetris — all things that would hold great appeal, even for an in-browser experience.

Comment by pianoroy — September 15, 2009

@pianoroy:
I’m 100% with you on that one.

Comment by randomrandom — September 15, 2009

These are exciting times for application developers. The last of the wall in online hosting of full-featured desktop applications is coming down.

I can imagine an application that cannot be moved into the browser space. This is it folks. All programming will soon be web programming, so screw you Michael Braude http://www.michaelbraude.com/2009/05/why-ill-never-be-web-guy.html.

PS, that last bit is a joke.

Comment by dimitryz — September 15, 2009

I’m pretty sure that MooTools has a plugin that uses WebGL. Their community is pretty large.

Comment by Jordan1 — September 16, 2009

This is pretty cool but I refuse to code 3d apps in a non-compiled language… I’m just tired of not having a proper syntax/reference checker like Eclipse for Java. Javascript is great for tying things together, but it kills me for larger projects.

Comment by functionform — September 16, 2009

functionform, I think that’s a personal problem ;)

Comment by parsap — September 16, 2009

_This is pretty cool but I refuse to code 3d apps in a non-compiled language… _

tell that to the professional games coders who use lua.

Comment by yt — September 23, 2009

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