WebGL on heavy rotation

Surprisingly there’s quite a lot of stuff going on related to the Web here at Siggraph. And even more suprising, those are the session that are really fully packed with people! I don’t know, either they’ve been given the smallest rooms or they didn’t expect so many people interested in the latest efforts behind the words Web3D, X3D, WebGL etc.

Full WebGL session

...last row, but at least sitting.

So, after I could not make it to the Web3D BoF on Tuesday (room was bursting!) I made it this morning to the BoF of Khronos Group, one of the key influencers behind OpenGL or WebGL in particular. Almost 15 speakers in 2 hours (!) showed their stuff and here a some of my favourites:

The Jellyfish simulation by Alexander Rodic makes a beautiful, but useless proof of 3D artwork (his own words…). Alexander is no developer at all, but comes from an artists perspective settling from Maya to WebGL directly (without having any experience in any more “basic” GL programming). With that perspective he claims that JavaScript is very fast – well, compared to C++ it still is NOT ;-) check it out, you can play around with it get behind the secrets for yourself.

Just a short note in between made by an employee of nVidia: they are working on WebGL mobile implementation for the Android browser. His non-public demo showed a small 3D aquarium with about 100 texturized fishes running at 6 fps (on a Motorola Xoom device) …ok that’s almost nothing, but interesting though the initiative of nVidia and their support for WebGL.

Myrobotnation.com will finally make my dream come true! Mark Danks of Kodoma Studios presented the robot design studio of their upcoming e-com site where you can design and – yes, they can – 3D print your own robot. Although they would not need too many polygones (the robot must not exceed some limits for the printing precision), the demo was pretty neat. You can even add a lot of textures that would map correctly onto the meshes in realtime, which is straight forward in other technologies but not as easy with the given WebGL standards and JS programming. Anyway, I am looking forward to my own nation ;-)

You should definitely start playing around with PhiloGL from SenchaLabs. It’s a very straight forward framework to start your work on WebGL projects and understand how the parts work together. The site is fully-loaded with examples and the project available on Github. I liked most the realtime color 3D histogram analysis – great work of state-of-the-art web tech!

There’s been another very interesting presentation by Opera Labs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything about it later on the web. Anyway, by trying to develop a modern 3D gaming experience with the abilities of HTML5 they’ve revealed some interesting measurements on performance. For instance, rendering with WebGL comes up to 60 fps while simple 2D drawing on the canvas will result in almost 15 fps (with less quality). Of course, no new fact at all, but it proves how important the knowledge of “real hardcore graphic programming” will be in the future of exceptional experiences in web development.

As all of this stuff is not included on the conference DVD, the guys promised to upload their presentations to the Web GL Blog. Hopefully they’ll hold the promise, so far the site looks a little empty…

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  1. Myrobotnation sounds like it’s exactly what we need :) The interesting thing about WebGL is a) it’s a “window” to the GPU and in theory the main difference between the implementations is mostly in the API layer (meaning Flash would also “just” be an API layer) and how good the workflow is there, not about features in terms of GPU capabilities and b) all this is based on OpenGL ES 2.0 – like e.g. the iPhone is implementing it. Although it is quiet amazing what you can do with the limited featureset (compared with OpenGL or recent DirectX implementations).

    Biggest questionmark: which 3D standard will Microsoft propose, as they are decidedly against OpenGL (for different reasons…)