WebGL around the net, 29 Oct 2009

It’s been quite a slow few days in the world of WebGL, but I’ve found two new stories for you today:

  • The Khronos WebGL forums have expanded! As well as the old forum for general topics, we now have one for end users to ask for help getting themselves up and running, coder forums for beginners and advanced developers, a forum for OS and browser-specific questions, and one for toolkits, SDKs, and the like. No posts yet, but I’m sure that will change quickly.
  • Over at SAPessi, Stefano Buliani compares WebGL and O3D, and comes to the conclusion that O3D is a better choice for 3D graphics on the web. His view is that with O3D’s higher-level API, more of the calculations involved in animating a scene happen in C or C++ (by calling functions that are built into the O3D libraries) than would in WebGL; or to put it the other way around, WebGL’s lower-level API forces you do lots of number-crunching in JavaScript, which is slow. This is a good argument; I’d say that WebGL’s advantage is that with a lower-level API you have more flexibility — and JavaScript is getting faster all the time. Either way, in the long run, competition between the two options can only help make both stronger, and whatever wins out in the end, users will have a rich 3D web. That said, I’m rooting for WebGL. Of course :-) [UPDATE] I missed one of his points, which is that a higher-level API might be better for web designers. Also a great point; see the comments for details.
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6 Responses to “WebGL around the net, 29 Oct 2009”

  1. SAPessi says:

    Giles. Thanks for mentioning my post. I just wanted to add a further point. Which, for me, is even more important than the sheer speed of the VM running the language (faster and faster processors will help us through these difficult times).


    My point here is that we’re not likely to see game developers switch to the web. We’re much more likely to see web developers start working on games or application involving 3d graphics, and this is where Google wins.
    O3D extends application JavaScript code with an API for 3D graphics. It uses standard JavaScript event processing and callback methods.

    I am a web developer and therefore not used at all at thinking-OpenGL. It’s much easier for me to think in term of callbacks and event-driven interaction.

  2. giles says:

    Thanks for the comment, that’s a great point. Again, it has to be balanced against the flexibility the lower-level API gives you, but it’s certainly another point in favour of O3D.

  3. loku says:

    true but there is one nice and still evaluating api for webGL and will be more. it’s just the begining. but performance is a good argument

  4. Ced says:

    I think the latter point in favor of O3D is just a temporary one.
    WebGL, thanks to its total flexibility, allows building easy APIs to build 3D stuff, so for web designers in the end they could actually get things easier done through WebGL, albeit indirectly. For instance I’ve seen an interesting experiment that takes a 3D markup language ala SVG and Javascript quickly processes it to display a WebGL representation of that object. Coding is not even required in this case.

    All that without limiting more advanced developers to do some crazy things that they could not do with a higher-level API like O3D.

  5. giles says:

    Yep, that’s the kind of thing I was thinking of when I said that WebGL’s flexibility would be an advantage. I think I saw a comment from Benjamin DeLillo somewhere saying that O3D could even be coded as a a library in WebGL, which sounds plausible (though right now I’m sure it would be unusually slow). And, of course, there’s plenty of space for alternative libraries to make life easier for web developers, like WebGLU.

  6. James says:

    Thanks for mentioning the expanded Khronos forums. Much appreciated.

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