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Khronos Group enters testing for WebGL - 3D Browsing without a plugin

· Web Dev Zone

Developers working with Khronos Group are currently testing a new standard, WebGL, that aims to bring hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to a wide range of browsers without requiring a dedicated plug-in. The system is based on the Canvas element within HTML5, but adds the ability for OpenGL functionality to be accessible using JavaScript.

The technology potentially could be used for integrating advanced graphics into web-based games, along with a variety of other content. The standard would work cross-platform on most popular browsers.

Khronos initially announced the WebGL working group at the Game Developers Conferences earlier in the year. Companies involved in the fledgling project include AMD, Ericsson, Google, Mozilla, Opera and NVIDIA.

“The WebGL working group inside Khronos is a unique forum that is bringing together browser and silicon vendors to create a low-level, foundation API for 3D on the Web.  Khronos will be reaching out to the key Web standards groups and the wider community to ensure WebGL is an appropriate, dynamic and enabling piece of the Web ecosystem.” - Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group and vice president at NVIDIA


The guys over at Wolfire have posted a preview of several layout tests included in WebKit build r48331. The video demonstration shows several basic elements such as rotating planets and a teapot, although the potential exists for developers to create content with much greater complexity.

WebGL is similar to Googles O3D which appears to be a little more stable at this stage.  O3D has been available for months now and supports the same feature set as WebGL but the main drawback is the fact O3D is plugin based.  It too uses a JavaScript API.

Google, Mozilla and Opera will be supporting WebGL in the future says Knronos.  As of September 18th, Firefox trunk builds include support for WebGL.  Khronos anticipates the first public release of WebGL should occur in the first half of 2010 and is actively seeking companies to join the development effort.

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