WebGL Announced, Javascript Controlled OpenGL Standard, is Now Official at Khronos Group, Who Runs OpenGL, OpenVG, OpenGL ES

So many cool and useful technologies are unveiled at SIGGRAPH every year, this year at SIGGRAPH 2009 was no different.  Khronos Group, behind the new guidance of OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL, OpenVG, COLLADA etc, came another big announcement about hardware rendering within the browser.  WebGL is now an official standard being developed at Khronos Group to bring javascript control of OpenGL to browsers… Wow!

Ok so this was officially announced at the GDC in March but limited information, but now it has been slated for an official public standard in early 2010. Shortly after the announcement at the GDC we saw Google o3D appear doing exactly that, controlling OpenGL through Javascript in the browser but it was still largely software/harward hybrid rendered. Google, Mozilla, Opera are part of the companies supporting WebGL which is great for browser support, also NVIDIA, AMD and Ericsson are in on it.

Khronos Details WebGL Initiative to Bring Hardware-Accelerated 3D Graphics to the Internet

JavaScript Binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 for Rich 3D Web Graphics without Browser Plugins;
Wide industry Support from Major Browser Vendors including Google, Mozilla and Opera; Specification will be Available Royalty-free to all Developers

4th August, 2009 – New Orleans, SIGGRAPH 2009 – The Khronos™ Group, today announced more details on its new WebGL™ working group for enabling hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in Web pages without the need for browser plug-ins.  First announced at the Game Developers Conference in March of 2009, the WebGL working group includes many industry leaders such as AMD, Ericsson, Google, Mozilla, NVIDIA and Opera.  The WebGL working group is defining a JavaScript binding to OpenGL® ES 2.0 to enable rich 3D graphics within a browser on any platform supporting the OpenGL or OpenGL ES graphics standards.  The working group is developing the specification to provide content portability across diverse browsers and platforms, including the capability of portable, secure shader programs.  WebGL will be a royalty-free standard developed under the proven Khronos development process, with the target of a first public release in first half of 2010. Khronos warmly welcomes any interested company to become a member and participate in the development of the WebGL specification.

Google released O3D this year and there are great strides in 3d within the browser from game engine wrapper technologies such as instant action technology, gaim theory engine (now owned by id Software and runs Quake  Live, hardware rendered Unity 3D (and Torque 3D coming soon), and Flash software rendered  3d engines Papervision 3D, Away 3D, Sandy (Sandy also released a haXe version that exports a javascript version) and others.  But it looks like the movement is to bring OpenGL to the web as a standard under the name WebGL, this would be great!  There would still be lots of times where plugins are better now and in the near future but the path is a good one. Having a software/hardware rendering hybrid like Google O3D for broad video card support (some of the painful older intel cards), or using a plugin like Unity3D, Torque 3D or wrapper technology for bigger engines is a good idea for the time being. But the future is grand in this area.

I think that Google O3D and OpenGL ES success on iPhone games probably combined to get this in motion.  OpenGL and very basic video cards are now standard in most machines out there.  Unity3D actually published hardware statistics on casual gamers (web-based games) ever so kindly and shows that even though there are some older Intel cards out there, for the most part machines nowadays have a video card capable of supporting at least low-poly 3d and hardware supported 2d rendering in real-time for games, user interfaces and more.

This is exciting news, it appears the movement of the web gaming market is getting much more capable and is accelerating the innovation of hardware accelerating the web.

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  • Brett Walker

    Definitely an interesting development, but this is starting to put Adobe behind the 8-ball. Their decision to put other features ahead of hardware 3D support (in terms of product development), and letting the community figure out 3D instead of providing leadership and the proper tools to developers is biting them in the ass.

    Unity3D was the first shot across the bow, but ok sure it's a custom plugin. But if WebGL is adopted by the major browsers, Flash's sustained future looks a bit shaky. Because once Javascript has hardware rendering support, we're not just talking about 3D. We're talking about being able to do 2D animations as fast or faster than Flash. So that leaves pretty much video (since the web standards people can't seem to decide on a standard), the speed of AS3 versus JS's older version of EcmaScript, and specialized tasks like socket support, as Flash's last stands.

    • http://drawlabs.com drawcode

      Exactly my feelings Brett. 2D hardware rendering is possible on even dinosaur video cards. Watching this space will be interesting. Plugins need to lead the way. I see Alchemy and haXe as pretty interesting things but why not a better OpenGL surface? What about some OpenVG stuff? Stuff like what Imagination Technologies is doing with it for Adobe is interesting though: http://www.imgtec.com/corporate/newsdetail.asp?… . Adobe makes money selling tools. So don't' they think that tools to develop killer hardware rendered experiences be desired?

      OpenVG is pretty new but I wonder if this is coming to the player for web?

      Bring that hardware rendered idea to the player as they are doing it for Flashlite:

  • Macaca

    Nice. All we need now is a modern JavaScript. Will it evolve or are we stuck with the same version we use for the past aeon?

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  • agustinamenabar

    Wow!!! hope this isn't the end of papervision…

  • http://get-infoz.blogspot.com/ watzabatza

    a free downloadable computer program i think..

  • http://get-infoz.blogspot.com/ sirvan

    Thanks for this man…

  • http://get-infoz.blogspot.com/ sirvan

    Thanks for this man…

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