Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Keeping up with the Khronos

For anyone following the attempts to bring 3D graphics to the web, the announcement by the Khronos Group of the WebGL working group was very exciting. The Khronos Group is the body that inherited the OpenGL standard from the OpenGL ARB. OpenGL has been around for 17 years. It is older than the Web. Not only has it been around, it's current. Everyone knows that if you want to do cross-platform hardware-accelerated 3D graphics on your desktop, you use OpenGL. If you ask the same for the web, there hasn't been a good answer. WebGL will hopefully fix that, taking advantage of the ubiquity and popularity of OpenGL in a way that fits the web.

And it's coming soon. The WebGL working group is targeting the first half of 2010 for release of the standard, but implementations will show up before that. The canvas3d prototype has been around for 2 years and gives a peek at what to expect, though it's different in the details.

The WebGL spec is not final yet, but Vlad's work is a head-and-torso-start. He's been updating it to match the spec, but recently I've taken this over to keep things moving with the spec. I'll also be looking at performance. Manipulating large amounts of native data, as needed for OpenGL, can be made much faster in JS.

I'll be posting updates about my progress soon.