2014: The Year in Review

A year ago, at a biggest-ever, record-breaking HTML5 Meetup in San Francisco all about WebGL, I predicted we were a tipping point; I think I was right. Let’s take a look at 2014, a banner year for 3D on the web!

A Year of Great Content

John Cale and Liam Young’s City of Drones brought together experiments in music and architecture; Isaac Cohen continued to blow minds with visualizations like Weird Kids and WebbyGoogle’s A Spacecraft for All chronicled the 36-year journey of the ISEE-3 space probe; and SKAZKA showed us an alternate world created by The Mill and powered by Goo.

A Year of Killer Apps

In 2014, WebGL made its mark– an indelible impression– on advertising, e-commerce, music, news and engineering.

A Year of Pro Tools

Goo, Verold, Turbulenz and PlayCanvas all made great strides with their WebGL engines and development environments. PlayCanvas even release their code as open source! Meanwhile, Epic Games and Unity3D both announced Emscripten-based support for WebGL in their awesome game engines.

A Year of Gaming

WebGL is definitely up to the challenge of creating high-quality MMOs. Oort Online and Adventure Box are both making steady progress; Urban Galaxy Online actually launched and it’s awesome; and Artillery continues to grind away at its first title, ATLAS.

A Year of Virtual Reality

The Oculus-Facebook deal upstaged everything that happened with WebGL in 2014, but it’s ok: VR and Web are two great tastes that go great together! There are now builds of Mozilla and Chromium that support Web VR APIs to full-screen render and head-track for Oculus Rift; and for the DIYVR-inclined, Google Cardboard support doesn’t even require a new browser, just side-by-side rendering and device orientation tracking, which you can just drop in using pre-built Three.js objects.

A Year of Ubiquity

And last, but certainly not least: with support now in iOS8, WebGL is EVERYWHERE: every computer, phone and tablet on the planet. We have arrived.

Here’s to a great 2014, and looking forward to 2015 and WebGL 2!

WebGL around the net, 11 December 2014

Voxels, physically based rendering and DIYVR in a smorgasbord of WebGL this week.

  • Adventure Box has released a tech preview of their astounding voxel-based sandbox game. We’re talking tens of millions of voxels; really impressive.
  • PlayCanvas has announced that they will soon be releasing physically-based rendering in their engine and tools. In the meantime, here is a preview featuring Star-Lord. Stunning!
  • Now you can browse the over one million photos of Earth taken from space from the International Space Station, over four hundred kilometers above Earth, in a 3D WebGL interface. Created by Callum Prentice, Second Life developer during the day since 2004 ● Enthusiastic WebGL hacker in the evenings.
  • Solar system in your pocket: developer Tim Samshuijzen has created an AR/VR solar system for Google Cardboard that uses the webcam, WebGL, Three.js Cardboard rendering and device orientation. DIYVR FTW!
  • The Plus360Degrees Car Visualizer is now fully mobile enabled! Point your mobile browser at http://carvisualizer.plus360degrees.com/threejs/. Works better on tablets… the big screen layout is nicer than on a phone.

Patrick Cozzi, friend of Learning WebGL, lead Cesium engineer and glTF collaborator, also teaches (as if he’s not busy enough!). He asked us to share his student’s end-of-term projects:

Crowdfunding Update

Dear readers,

The DIYVR Kickstarter campaign by DODOcase and Third Eye ends in less than two days. We hit the target in the first four days but we would like to raise more. Please consider supporting DIYVR, and help keep Virtual Reality open source and free for the future!

We’ll see you later in the week with our regular roundup…


WebGL around the net, 4 December 2014

This week in WebGL: professional development work flows.

  • Autodesk has released its View and Data API in beta. The software adds 2D and 3D viewing functionality to web apps using REST and JavaScript APIs, making it easier to create applications that can view, zoom and interact with 2D and 3D models in over 60 model formats… all browser-based and WebGL of course. Details can be found at https://developer.autodesk.com/. There is a even a Virtual Reality demo (though Autodesk lead Cyrille Fauvel warns that it’s not stable yet)!
  • Rayscribe is a new 3D work flow tool – a unifying cloud based environment to manage life-cycle of WebGL applications. The team is working on adding the ability to develop domain specific content creation tools using same set of core services. There is also a gallery of samples under development.
  • ZOMG! If you remember about a year back, we reported on the development of Urban Galaxy Online, a WebGL-based, sci-fi themed MMO. Back then it just looked pretty and had promise. Now this thing is off the hook! Start playing now (no download, wink wink!) at https://www.urbangalaxyonline.com/.
  • Check out this Sim City-like 3D city builder created with Three.js and the Sea3D format.
  • Cesium’s Patrick Cozzi has released some new WebGL profiling tips. My fave is the one about boosting frame rate above 60fps!
  • Developer John Davis has created a really nice demo of a Harken Pyramid, based on generative algorithms and Perlin Noise. The demo uses Google Dart and Raymond Hulha’s ChronosGL library.
  • Here is a stunning real-time raytracing demo plus marching cubes. Note that it requires some WebGL extensions to run.
  • ♫ Just hear those sleigh bells jingling ♪… the countdown to Norad’s Santa Tracker has begun! As always, the tracker is powered by CesiumJS.

WebGL around the net, 25 November 2014

[Posting early due to the short week here in the colonies... -Ed]

New music interfaces and 3D components top this week’s WebGL developments.

  • New York/Moscow-based agency 4Real has created a wonderful interactive front end to Teengirl Fantasy’s EP Thermal. Is this the future of digital music interfaces?
  • Verold developed a spiffy 3D product walkthrough of the Amazon Echo, based on new components coming out in the next release. 3D components FTW!
  • CL3VER announced an Autodesk Revit Exporter that exports a 3D model with its geometry, hierarchy, materials and textures into the CL3VER editor with a single click.
  • Frinlet http://frinlet.com/ is developer Ryan Collin’s “dream game” that he has been working on for a while. It is an adventure game that he is developing it out in the open and he’d love your feedback on it.
  • Check out http://webgl.nu/, a new WebGL indie games portal. Simple, clean design. If you have a WebGL game you want to share, post it there!
  • Kickstarter Reminder: don’t forget to back, and spread the word, about these great WebGL Kickstarters! DIYVR by DODOcase and Tony Parisi (me), ApexVJ TURBO by Simo Santavirta , and Synth by Stephen Belovarich. There’s still time!

WebGL around the net, 20 November 2014

This week in WebGL: the latest MMO, Tesla gear, and… pest control?!

  • Microsoft’s John Shewchuck talks about building a massively-multiplayer game Age of Ascents on WebGL and Azure.
  • Verold Studio was used to create a 3D visualization for Tesla’s new antenna system created by components manufacture Premo, presented at the Electronica 2014 trade show.
  • Canadian retailer Pest No Problem is using WebGL to power their online store. WebGL: kills bugs dead!
  • In this great MSDN article, learn how to program collisions and physics in Babylon.js and oimo.js
  • Londoners: the next FREE London WebGL Workshop will be on Tuesday, December 16, 2014. Christmas comes to Babylon Three (an Introduction to Babylon.js and Three.js)! More info at http://www.meetup.com/WebGL-Workshop-London/events/218697727/
  • Kickstarter reminder: don’t forget to back, and spread the word, about these great WebGL Kickstarters! DIYVR by DODOcase and Tony Parisi (me), ApexVJ TURBO by Simo Santavirta, and Synth by Stephen Belovarich.

Special Edition: Crowdfunding WebGL

’tis the season of giving! Please help support ALL of these wonderful Kickstarter projects, all based on WebGL.

  • Are you excited about virtual reality? Are you like me, and don’t want to wait a year (or more!) till Oculus VR actually releases a product? Then you want to support DIYVR, my new Kickstarter campaign in partnership with DODOcase. Supporters will get a nifty new DODOcase Cardboard VR mobile viewer in time for the holidays, and help fund GLAM, my open source project that makes authoring 3D and VR in WebGL as easy as creating web pages! Many thanks in advance for your support.
  • Reminder that Simo Santavirta has launched a Kickstarter for version 3 of ApexVJ, the kickass WebGL-based music visualizer system. There are still 22 days to go on this one and he still needs help. Please give (I did!)
  • LA-based Steve Belovarich has already hit the modest goal for his Kickstarter for Synth, the audio and video mixing system in WebGL. But maybe you want to kick in anyway.

WebGL around the net, 13 November 2014

All the ship thats fit to print: WebGL powers mainstream news, ads, music, CAD and Unreal 4!

  • The New York Times quietly released an awesome piece of WebGL: an interactive photo panorama of Shell’s Prelude, a new massive floating natural gas refinery. Too big to photograph in one go, the team used Microsoft’s Photosynth to stitch hundreds of individual photos. News, meet WebGL.
  • Winslow Porter of the US-based interactive agency MKG has developed a stunning visualization of the Clinton Global Initiative’s impact on our planet. We can make a difference.
  • Long-awaited, here’s a live demo of Unreal Engine 4 and WebGL: a strategy game that features awesome rendering and 60FPS movement. (If you figure out how to actually play, drop me a line or leave a comment! :-o )
  • ApexVJ version 3 is out! Visualizer genius Simo Santavirta has done it again. Go check out the new version, and fund his Kickstarter! (I did.)
  • Interested in 3D advertising? Digital agency Phyramid talks about how they made a WebGL top banner for the home page in their blog.
  • Millions of CAD parts are now viewable and interactive online in WebGL, thanks to TraceParts, a France-based digital engineering 3D content provider.
  • Great news in tools: Ambiera has just announced that their great WebGL engine, Copperlicht, is now open source as of Version 1.8.1!
  • Here’s an online STL file viewer. Just drag and drop http://www.sgh1.net/stl/
  • Not one, but two WebGL Kickstarters! Check out Synth, a music mixing system. Fund that, too! (I did.)
  • Teaser: keep your wallets out; you’ll be seeing another WebGL Kickstarter announcement next week.

WebGL around the net, 8 October 2014

{Apologies for the delay in posting. We were having site issues… which now we believe are fixed. Thanks CloudFlare! –Ed}

This week’s WebGL developments include boundary-breaking production value, make your own 3D dolls and… write code in VR?!

  • Check out OutsideOfSociety’s Autumn. Wow. Just wow.
  • Isaac Cohen (http://cabbi.bo/), LeapJS guru and creative coder extraordinaire, is once again doing crazy things with pixels: his tribute to the #weirdkids indie game developer collective features music, GPU particles, water reflections, awesome text, and audio-based vertex and fragment shaders.
  • Makielab lets you design and manufacture your own amazing 3d-printed dolls. They’ve just rewritten their doll builder using WebGL. It used to be flash/unity3d. According to founder Ben Griffiths, it renders better, uses much less CPU and now works on iOS8 and Android…  using three.js under the hood.
  • Unity Technologies has released a benchmarking suite. Their blog talks about the WebGL benchmarks they developed; fascinating reading and some interesting results.
  • Tools roundup: last few weeks have seen major releases of the SceneJS framework and CopperCube 5, the WebGL game engine. Expect all kinds of feature goodness.
  • The Khronos Group has launched another Show Off Your WebGL Widget! Contest. Win copies of my WebGL programming books, and, almost as big a prize– an NVIDIA Shield! :-) Deadline is November 25, 2014. More details at https://www.khronos.org/contests/webgl.
  • Don’t forget! The WebGL Insights book call for proposals is out and the deadline is looming (Oct 19th 2014).
  • And finally, in the #NeverThoughtI’dSeeThis department: Brian Peiris’ RiftSketch lets you live code in VR with the Oculus Rift, Firefox WebVR, JavaScript and Three.js. Don’t have a Rift? Watch the YouTube video here.

WebGL around the net, 17 September 2014

This week in WebGL: supermodels, virtual iPhones, and game developers large and small.

  • Why wait for your pre-ordered iPhone 6? Experience it virtually here. Nice work, PlayCanvas!
  • Under Armour taps WebGL to visualize Tweets in I Will What I Want, an interactive experience featuring supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
  • Bungie uses WebGL to show Destiny players’  characters: http://www.bungie.net/en/Legend/2/4611686018431882245/2305843009213703953#gear
  • Zynga gets into WebGL, using it as a cross-platform renderer for 2D mobile and web games. It even falls back to 2D canvas for IE10 support. Nice.
  • DinoHunt is back! Ivank’s game built with his JavaScript engine – http://dinohunt2.ivank.net/ – don’t get stomped by the velociraptor!
  • Independent developer Mike Linkovich has created SPACEJACK, a beautiful 2D space shooter that uses normal map textures for dynamic point lighting on 2D sprites and several shaders for various effects and space backgrounds.
  • http://www.chromeexperiments.com/detail/saving-nemo/ just click – fast.
  • “We’re having a heatwave…” Here’s a compelling – and sobering - visualization of NASA-based data of global temperature anomalies built with Nicolas Belmonte’s PhiloGL. Requires WebGL with floating-point texture extension.
  • Virtual Reality hardware maker Leonar3Do has launched the updated Leopoly.com, a browser based object creation, customization and content providing platform for 3D printing. Join the revolution!
  • The next FREE London WebGL Workshop featuring Fonts and Models will be held on Thursday, Sept 25th. The meetup will cover fonts in raw WebGL, Three.js, Babylon.js and PlayCanvas. Autodesk will also be presenting their new online model viewer.
  • Not WebGL but who cares? HUGE news: Microsoft buys Minecraft maker Mojang for an obscene sum. Well done, Notch! What’s next?
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