What is WebGL Anyways?

Posted on 08. Feb, 2011 by in Features

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With Chrome 9 hitting a stable release, a lot has been said about WebGL being included with this version. But what does that really mean? I hear the term a lot, but it’s time to explain what it means, and how it changes web experiences for us all, at least as soon as creative people start developing awesome stuff that utilizes the technology itself. Before I continue, take a look at this WebGL demo that is pretty cool.

You can check out the above demo yourself by going here.

WebGL stands for Web-based Graphics Language, and what it does is use JavaScript to implement the use of 3D graphics within the browser. Currently this can only be done in Chrome, which makes version 9 a significant step in browser technology. Firefox and Safari are both expected to support WebGL, although Microsoft has not said that they will implement it in IE.

WebGL is managed by an open standards group called Khronos. Since it is a web standard, it doesn’t rely on a plugin, it just works through web scripts. Having a good graphics card will increase the overall capability of WebGL on your machine.

The WebGL project has been run via a consortium of organizations that includes Opera, Mozilla, Google and Apple. Early in the development of the project, Google had a key technology called O3D it had been working on as a plugin that allowed for 3D graphics to run in a browser. Last year, this was integrated into the standard.

webglmusicvizWebGL music visualizations can be found at the Chrome Experiments site.

Google employees even spent some of their project time on developing a Quake demo that ran with WebGL technology. That project, as well as other resources for demos and playable games can be found at the site PlaywebGL. Google’s Body Browser project also includes WebGL technology, as well as many Chrome Experiments found here.

Expect to see more games and interactive applications to start using WebGL. Now that it is included as standard in a major browser, developers will need to find incentives to use the technology. Later on this month Google will be talking up WebGL among their other gaming technology at the 2011 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and I cannot wait to see browser-based applications using WebGL to innovate the overall web experience.

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Related posts:

  1. Google Adds WebGL Section to Chrome Experiments Site
  2. Great Use of WebGL Browser Graphics with Body Browser
  3. Chrome is Fastest Browser for WebGL… According to Facebook

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4 Responses to “What is WebGL Anyways?”

  1. [...] Posted on 26. Feb, 2011 by Daniel Cawrey in News The significance of WebGL cannot denied: a technology that allows graphical elements to run right in your browser, without a plugin. If you would like to learn more about this, read my post here. [...]

  2. [...] You can also look at population changes over the past 20 years using this project. It’s another reminder of what you can do in the browser, and Google is quick to note that the Search Globe only works in WebGL-compatible browsers such as Chrome or Firefox. If you want to learn more about WebGL and see some other excellent examples of its use, check out this article. [...]

  3. [...] simply means Web-based Graphics Language. It was developed by Mozilla as a software library for the JavaScript programming language. It [...]

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