WebGL – a standard for running 3D graphics in the browser – has been around for a while, but the Khronos Group, which has been chaperoning the process of finalizing the WebGL standard, just announced the final version of the new standard. WebGL brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to browsers without the need for plugins and should enable developers and designers to create rich 3D-enabled experiences in the browser. The WebGL working group includes industry heavy-weights like Google, Mozilla, Opera, Apple, Qualcomm, AMD and Nvidia.
Both hardware manufacturers like Qualcomm, which will integrate WebGL into its Snapdragon platform and browser vendors are embracing WebGL. According to Opera’s lead graphics developer Tim Johansson, “WebGL will finally free web developers from the confines of 2D without the need for a plug-in. Once WebGL becomes pervasive, we can look forward to a new era in creativity on the Web. Opera is excited to be part of the WebGL initiative. We intend to support WebGL in our browsers, whether on computers, mobile phones or TVs.”
As WebGL leverages the OpenGL standard that is already supported by the vast majority of graphics cards, developers don’t have to worry about hardware compatibility. Most browser vendors are also on board. WebGL is already supported by nightly versions of Apple’s WebKit and Firefox, as well as in Google Chrome and in a preview version of Opera which the company announced just a few days ago. To see how well your browser supports this standard, just head over to the Khronos Group’s demo repository. Google’s impressive Body Browser, too, uses the WebGL standard.
Where is Microsoft?
The one company that is missing here, though, is Microsoft, which is just about to release the next version of its Internet Explorer. As of now, Internet Explorer 9 is not scheduled to include WebGL support.