Monday, August 22, 2011

My take on WebGL

Hi there,

in recent news about WebGL, where Microsoft addressed concerns about browser security in its blog post WebGL considered harmful. Basically, they say that due to several reasons, like the inevitable access of WebGL code to the hardware (the graphics card), buggy drivers and other issues, WebGL represents a significant risk to browser security. Therefore,  the MS Internet Explorer will not support WebGL in the foreseeable future.

Who doesn't know WebGL yet, "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. ", which is the definition of WebGL by the Khronos Group.

Of course, that created a some turmoil in the WebGL community and Gregg Tavares from the Google Chrome Dev team came up with a more than clear blog response. Basically, he is saying that Microsoft is all wrong. Every mentioned security issue can be adressed so that browsers can implement WebGL in a secure way.

In any way, Google will continue to push forward Chromes WebGL development (Chrome experiments), as Firefox will do (Mozilla Demos). I predict that MS will finally align, when it will become inevitable for them. This point could be reached, when popular games will be published using WebGL technology. You could play as you go in your browser, no install, no plugin (Flash). But thats still a long way to go.

Since I work for more then 10 years with OpenGL, of course I would like to see WebGL succeed. There are significant challenges on the way, but I clearly follow the position of Gregg Tavares that these problems can be tackled, solutions already exist or will be developed in the near future.

If you are new to WebGL, here is a small introduction and if you want to have more details on the topic do not hesitate to take a look at the Google IO WebGL Techniques And Performance presentation.

Of course, I'm especially interested in WebGL since this technology will probably allow mobile AR developers, in the not so far future, to create applications that won't be dependent on many different plugins or special applications for each mobile plattform.

You can get a good impression what I'm talking when you read previous blogpost on Remixing Reality by Mozilla presenting an AR application written in webGl and flartoolkit (flash) that even runs on Android Firefox beta.

I just played around with some WebGL and came up with the example below. Regards to If you do not see a turning triangle than try another browser like Chrome or Firefox.

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