This is a re-post from Vlad Vukićević‘s personal blog. WebGL, an effort to bring a GL-based 3D extension to the web, is being standardized through Khronos. The WebGL work is based on the GL Canvas extension that Vlad started and is now being implemented in both Firefox and Safari. Builds that include support for WebGL are now being built every night. This work won’t make it into Firefox 3.6 but may be included in a post-3.6 release. To keep track of the WebGL progress you can follow Vlad or Mark Steele‘s progress.
Since my post on Friday, we landed a few fixes to improve our WebGL implementation and to fix a couple of bugs we discovered on Friday. I’m looking forward to seeing what people do with WebGL, and how it can be useful on the web right now. For example, EA/Maxis recently added COLLADA export of Creature designs to their popular game Spore, and they have a Sporepedia where players can see others’ creations. Right now, those previews are just as images. With WebGL, they could be fully 3D, even animated.
Over the weekend I’ve put together this example, which uses WebGL to render an exported Spore creature, and let the user rotate the 3D model to view it from different angles. For those who want to try it out, you’ll need a recent Firefox nightly (one from today, September 21, or newer), and with one preference flipped as described in this post.
I’ll be working to update the very basic “getting started” demos from the GL ES 2 book that I ported to Canvas 3D as well, so that those who are interested in experimenting can have some good basic code to look at. They’re not updated yet, but they should be in the next day or two.
For those of you on Windows who don’t have an up to date OpenGL driver, or don’t have the possibility of getting one (e.g. many common Intel graphics cards doesn’t have OpenGL drivers), you can enable software rendering by downloading a Windows build of the Mesa software OpenGL implementation. It won’t be fast, but it should be enough for you to get an idea of what’s going on, and to play with some of the demos. To use it, download webgl-mesa-751.zip and extract it somewhere on your computer. It has a single file, OSMESA32.DLL, that you need to tell Firefox where to find: open up about:config, and set the preference webgl.osmesalib to the path of OSMESA32.DLL. If you extracted it to “C:temp”, you would put in “C:temposmesa32.dll” in the pref. Then, flip webgl.software_rendering to true, and you should be good to go.
(Mac OS X users shouldn’t need to bother with software rendering, since Apple already provides a high quality OpenGL implementation, and Linux users should be ok as long as they have recent OpenGL drivers installed.)