WebGL: 3D Graphics in the Web Browser

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WebGL is a new technology being introduced to modern web browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla FireFox. WebGL enables a web browser to render interactive 3D graphics directly in a web browser. Since browsers are bundling WebGL inside a web browser, no external plugins or downloads are required. This makes the distribution of 3D content easier than ever before.

According to Wikipedia, WebGL development started around 2006 but the technology has not been standardized yet; therefore, web browsers other than Chrome and Firefox cannot view WebGL. For those using Chrome and Firefox, you can see some compelling examples of WebGL in action.

  • My favourite example and powerful showcase is seen at Chaos to Perfection, a virtual 3D tour of the Palace of Versailles.
  • A practical use of WebGL is to show a globe of the Earth overlaid with scientific data.
  • A simple demonstration of WebGL is shown by Evan Wallace’s Water.
  • The ability to share 3D models is demonstrated in HelloRacerwhich shows a virtual race car.

Other useful examples are available at Chrome Experiments. Given the infancy of WebGL, it is unclear when it will be fully adopted by all web browsers. There is huge potential for this technology, nevertheless, because 3D content will become shared around the world in the same way that text, images, and video are shared on the Internet today.

3 Responses

  1. rhfung

    There’s another example of WebGL from Disney, Google, and others. Here is the website:

    This website is not a fully immersible 3D world but it demonstrates effective use of WebGL for an 2.5D experience. From the credits, it took a lot of engineering effort to build out this website.