Khronos Group announces WebGL 1.0 specification for 3D accelerated browser content

Bit step forward for gaming

Khronos Group announces WebGL 1.0 specification for 3D accelerated browser content
Marking a significant change in terms of the quality of games than can offered through a web browser, the final release specification of the WebGL standard has been released.

Overseen by collaborative industry outfit, Khronos Group, WebGL enables hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in HTML5 web browsers without the need for plug-ins, and is supported by companies such as Apple, Google, Mozilla and Opera.

Faster, faster pussycat

In technical terms, WebGL defines a JavaScript binding to the OpenGL ES 2.0 standard, enabling rich 3D graphics within a browser running on any OpenGL graphics hardware, which is effectively all graphics hardware, whether desktop or mobile.

It also uses the features of the emerging HTML5 web standard and the canvas Javascript element, to bring 3D graphics into compliant browsers without requiring a plug-in.

This means developers will be able to do clever things such as using video frames as textures, as well as employing advanced lighting techniques and other real-time special effects, and using 3D objects. Of course, for the best performance it will still be best to use a plug-in - as currently happens with the likes of Unity - so code can run natively.

Browsers already shipping with WebGL implementations including the beta releases for Firefox 4.0 and Chrome 9.0.

Here be monsters

The only obvious issue for developers looking to support WebGL is Microsoft.

Because it doesn't support OpenGL - it has its own DirectX standard - Internet Explorer, which is still the most popular browser, isn't expected to support WebGL, at least, any time soon. Google is providing a workaround using its Angle technology to support OpenGL ES 2.0 via DirectX 9 however.

If you have a browser that supports WebGL, you can check out some early demos here.

[source: Khronos Group]

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.