Google Chooses WebGL and Moves O3D to a WebGL Javascript Library

Google has decided to put weight behind WebGL and stop actively developing O3D as a plugin, rather they will make O3D a Javascript library on top of WebGL. This will focus the 3D plugin development efforts from Google into just WebGL on top of the OpenGL ES 2 spec, which in turn runs in the html5 <canvas> tag.

WebGL is pretty exciting offering browser based OpenGL and hardware rendered graphics. When this becomes mainstream this will change up gaming and interactive on the web immensely. Unity 3D and Flash 3d engines add lots of immersive environments and WebGL will be just as exciting, if all browsers adopt it (canvas/webgl).

At Google, we’re deeply committed to implementing and advancing standards, so as of today, the O3D project is changing direction, evolving from its current plug-in implementation into a JavaScript library that runs on top of WebGL. Users and developers will still be able to download the O3D plug-in and source code for at least one year, but other than a maintenance release, we plan to stop developing O3D as a plug-in and focus on improving WebGL and O3D as a JavaScript library.

About WebGL

WebGL is a cross-platform, royalty-free web standard for a low-level 3D graphics API based on OpenGL ES 2.0, exposed through the HTML5 Canvas element as Document Object Model interfaces. Developers familiar with OpenGL ES 2.0 will recognize WebGL as a Shader-based API using GLSL, with constructs that are semantically similar to those of the underlying OpenGL ES 2.0 API. It stays very close to the OpenGL ES 2.0 specification, with some concessions made for what developers expect out of memory-managed languages such as JavaScript.

WebGL brings plugin-free 3D to the web, implemented right into the browser. Major browser vendors Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox), and Opera (Opera) are members of the WebGL Working Group. “It feels like, someone’s missin-ing”

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  • wonderwhy-er

    Hip hip hurray :) Even more effort to bring powerful 3D to web with possibility for very wast adoption. With this Flash will have problems in some segments of web development.

    Good to see Google concentrating their efforts on WebGL, it truthfully becomes a serious movement :)

    • joshRency

      Your ignorance of the way things work is wast [sic.]

      There's no way on earth that these standards will be adopted across the board, or be useful in any way shape or form. It's another vrml, dhtml, xhtml type pile of doo doo.

      • wonderwhy-er

        We probably come from different backgrounds so have different view on that technology. I am coming from RIA background and am interested in games, computer graphics an stuff and have no interest in what HTML/JS currently(slowly becomes in past thought) can do.

        With developing rich graphical applications and games for web in last two years it become pretty embarrassing that browsers on very powerful computers barely can provide experience even on a level of handheld consoles. Now that even smartphones can provide make a more spectacular graphics and start to support open gl it becomes just ridiculous.

        For a while I am thinking on starting to play with Unity as it seems best option to finally have that power of expression as an option and a possibility but it has big problems with adoption. Now behind WebGL stand Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Opera.

        Now there are two problems with it that bother me. First Microsoft is absent which makes this large adoption a big problem but as with many browsers before if WebGL will provide a platform for innovative RIA IE may end up there where Netscape and Mosaic before it(etc etc).
        Second problem is Apple. Considering how it protects its AppStore and that it is among them makes future of WebGL cloudy too.

        So yeah it may fail. Unity then even with small adoption for projects where that kind of expression is bare minimum and wide adoption out of the box comes second.

        • drawcode

          Standards have to get that momentum. It has all browsers but IE in it same with html5. If it fails O3D can still work as it already works in IE as a plugin. But it would be nice to have WebGL standard on OpenGL ES 2.0 which directly translates to mobile devices (same version of OpenGL except early iPhones which are 1.1). In fact you might even see the browsers on mobile implement WebGL since it is a common standard and right now Microsoft is not a big player there.

          • wonderwhy-er

            Yeah exectly becuase WebGL is based on OpenGL ES 2.0 is why I am most optimistic. It becomes common for high end smartphones to have OpenGL ES 2.0 which makes it available even on mobile platforms. This makes WebGL potentially mobile ready.

            As for IE not supporting it… Ah well IE has long history of keeping web back… They just keep the tradition…

            Anyways I wish that WebGL will succeed as it has a promise of finally having true 3D in web for everyone.

          • x^n

            WebGL, it's not true 3D if it's not OpenGL… Soon all mobile devices, most especially tablets, are going to run full on OpenGL or DirectX, no doubt.

          • wonderwhy-er

            Hmm… Someone of us is confusing something then. Isn't WebGL based on OpenGL ES 2.0 and as far as I understand it's aim is to be compatible with devices that can run OpenGL ES 2.0? I mostly follow its progress for that reason. Though current results do not look that promising its potential in coming years does if it will deliver in on that promise.

          • Shawn_The_Bohn

            OpenGL ES is for iPhone games, its no better than the other options like Flash really.

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  • Atlas

    This is great news. Many people are suspicious of installing new browser plugins just to see some 3D content. If it becomes standard in all browsers 3D on the web will take off like never before.

  • x^n

    This is a sucky move and will only give more credence to Flash in the long-run. Not that I feel that is a bad thing.

    1. Microsoft will never support WebGL.
    2. WebGL is just a watered down OpenGL, we need full on graphics not half assed BS.
    3. Try this instead: