WebGL around the net, 14 August 2014

Worried about tools for building great WebGL? Don’t!

  • Unity has announced that the upcoming WebGL support in their awesome developer tools will be available for free to all users. This is HUGE for independent game developers looking to target the web.
  • WebGL publishing tool maker Verold announced that they have secured a 1.6M funding round and strategic deals to push forward creating interactive 3D content and applications with partners.
  • X3DOM, the toolkit for viewing X3D content in WebGL, is staying fresh with a new release with lots of features and fixes.
  • Noteworthy: Steven Wittens presented more of his mad visualization skills with Mathbox. He previewed his ongoing work on version 2 in a live presentation during the SIGGRAPH WebGL Birds of a Feather.
  • Check out this live brush painter experiment with WebGL and your camera, courtesy of Goo Create!
  • VR ALERT: WebGL creator and VR innovator Vlad Vukićević  just released an updated VR build of Firefox for experimenting. This one has much better CSS support and other improvements. Web VR will be here soon… !
  • Also in virtual reality, I was privileged to share the stage with Arthur Van Hoff of Jaunt and Patrick Buckley of DODOcase, at a Silicon Valley meetup about the Future of VR. We had varying viewpoints on how, where and when VR will hit the masses… but everyone agreed that WebGL will be a core part of it over the years. Here are the slides from my talk. Enjoy.

WebGL around the net, 14 August 2014

WebGL continues to push the media envelope. This week, we look at interactive documentaries, film-based worlds and sandbox MMOs.

  • A Spacecraft for All. This stunning interactive documentary chronicles the 36-year journey of the ISEE-3 spacecraft. Follow the craft’s flight path, learn about the science, and view its live position as it flies through space. All brilliantly rendered in WebGL, seamlessly layered onto streaming video.
  • Oort Online is a gorgeous new sandbox-style massive multiplayer online game powered by Turbulenz. It is still in development, but you can see the teaser video on their site.
  • Goo Technologies recently worked with visual effects studio The Mill to create SKAZKA, an experimental, creative and collaborative companion to the experimental film of the same name. See the experience here, and read more on The Mill Blog.
  • Fans of the board game Quarto will dig this interactive version created using Babylon.js.
  • Still looking around for a good game programming framework? Check out Phaser, an HTML5 game framework for desktop and mobile that renders to both canvas and WebGL.
  • HUGE news on the standards front: as tweeted by Khronos Group honcho Neil Trevett, Microsoft has joined Khronos and the WebGL working group! This further solidifies the company’s commitment to the standards effort. [Skeptics - take a chill pill. I think they're here to help in earnest. --ed.]
  • If you like numbers and want to learn how to program with them to create noise, cellular automata, fractals, l-systems and more, Daniel Shiffman’s book The Nature of Code is free to read online. The book uses the Processing language to illustrate the concepts, and the online version includes WebGL live examples.
  • Speaking of books… here is my unabased PROMO for the week: O’Reilly is running a special this week only to get 50% off of my new WebGL programming book and video. http://shop.oreilly.com/category/deals/webgl.do?code=WKWBGL&cmp=tw-velocity-books-videos-lp-promo_20140808_owo_webgl. Good only until August 16th!

WebGL around the net, 7 August 2014

Back from vacation! This week in WebGL features trailblazing architecture, advertising and visualization.

  • Experimental Music meets Speculative Architecture! Music legend John Cale teamed up with architect Liam Young to create City of Drones, which charts the story of a lost drone drifting through an abstract cityscape. It is gorgeous, sweeping, and just mind-boggling. To me, this shows how far great minds can take a new interactive medium like WebGL.
  • [This is a few weeks old now - I was snarfing polvo and guzzling porto in Portugal during the World Cup - but still relevant!] Last month, Google worked with Virginia-based agency Grow Interactive and Goo Technologies to create Risk Everything, an awesome World Cup campaign for Nike. Here is some coverage in the Wall Street Journal, and Youtube videos about the project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRQs1u6UR3I https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyDSubnQd28
  • Cesium ships! After three years in development, the Cesium development community has released Version 1.0 of the library. Cesium is an open-source WebGL-based JavaScript library for adding 3D globes and 2D maps to web apps.  It handles all the details of streaming massive worldwide datasets and supports lots of open formats for terrain, imagery, 3D models (glTF!), and vector data. For more information, go to http://cesiumjs.org/.
  • If you have been wanting to run WebGL in a web worker, but haven’t had the time to muck around with it, no worries: Emscripten creator Alon Zakai has developed WebGLWorker, a library that runs WebGL in a worker by proxying calls from the worker thread to the main thread. He did the hard work, so you don’t have to! See Alon’s post on the Mozilla Research blog.
  • Hungary-based Pelikan Software Kft, founded by one of the creators of the popular 3D package Deep Exploration, has developed FinalMesh, a feature-rich 3D viewer, converter, and PDF and WebGL publisher product.
  • Check out 3D.City, a SimCity-like city builder in HTML5. Not very playable yet, but it has nice graphics and looks promising.
  • Need to build a dungeon, fast? Here is a dungeon generator built with Goo Create.
  • Callum Prentice has updated his point cloud street maps visualizer. This one plots Street View panoramas using the depth info from the LiDAR data.
  • Going to SIGGRAPH next week? WebGL is going to have a strong presence there. Cesium’s Patrick Cozzi has compiled a list of WebGL sessions at the conference.
  • Londoners: the next FREE London WebGL Workshop is at the end of the month. This one will feature building the rotating dice example WebGL, Three.js and Babylon.js.
  • Do you want to learn WebGL programming, but don’t like to read? O’Reilly has just released the video course version of my book, Programming 3D Applications in HTML5 and WebGL. (The price is a bit steep – but worth it IMO. So get your boss to sign off! It will pay back a hundredfold. Promise.)

Till next week,


WebGL around the net, 7 July 2014

3D interstitial ads and printable designs lead the next wave of WebGL’s mainstream adoption.

[NOTE: due to vacations we will be publishing on an abbreviated schedule (or maybe not at all) for the next 2 weeks. See you all later in the month! --Ed]

WebGL around the net, 2-July-2014

Web-based Virtual Reality: fast, cheap, out of control and now RUNNING IN YOUR BROWSER.

  • Virtually Awesome! Vlad  Vukićević, WebGL creator and VR guru at Mozilla, discusses the First Steps for VR on the Web. Firefox now has support for Oculus stereo rendering of Canvas elements, CSS3 3D transforms, mixing Canvas and CSS into single 3D display space, and VR head tracking.
  • Rye Terrell of TyroVR has created a Three.js renderer that uses the new Firefox APIs; the site also has an excellent getting started tutorial.
  • Brandon Jones of Google just released his VR update about Chrome… now in Chromium nightlies!
  • Google is trying to keep one-up Oculus and keep up with Firefox with its new Chrome VR Experiments demo site. The site is really for Android-based Cardboard apps, but you can see the demos in mono on a regular web page.
  • Music video + WebGL + embeddable content == three great tastes! Google’s The Cube is “an experimental platform for interactive storytelling” that features videos playing on a cube surface, connected to Google Play. A new way to sell music?
  • Check out this beautiful national park visualization powered by BabylonJS. Geotrek.fr, a territory management tool developed by Makina Corpus, is going to incorporate 3D features in an upcoming  release. Here is additional information on  camera positioning according to the land features, and the making of Geotrek 3D. Non-francophones – the sites are all in French. But the visuals are worth the trip and you can always try to get Google to translate.
  • Here is a nice particle physics simulation running entirely on the GPU, developed by Christopher Wellons.
  • Perf matters: last week I gave a talk on WebGL and Web Site Performance at WebPerfDays Silicon Valley. We are just at the beginning of this field of study – and I encourage WebGL devs to start thinking about traditional web site performance issues when scaling up your applications to reach millions. Feel free to comment on the SlideShare or mail me directly if you are keen to do something in this area.

WebGL around the net, 24 June 2014

3D ads and popup books! It doesn’t get more fun than this in WebGL Land. Here are this week’s developments:

  • Glacéau Smartwater has launched a beautiful 3D ad campaign, Explore the Sky. The ad features animated camera fly-throughs and great interaction. You can even paint clouds in the sky! Could this be a glimpse into the future of web advertising?
  • Want to create your own 3D Popup Card? Check out http://www.chromeexperiments.com/detail/3d-pop-up-card/
  • This week on Chrome Experiments features The Life of a Particle, “A particle simulation from another perspective — inside.” I’m not sure what that means, but this thing is damn gorgeous.
  • Here is a behind-the-scenes look at creating the amazing Urban Jungle Street View. It’s a fantastic, insightful writeup by Einar Öberg, Developer and Technical Director at North Kingdom in Stockholm.
  • Tarek Sherif, Software Developer at Montreal Neurological Institute/McGill University, has released BrainBrowser v2.0.0 – a new, mobile-friendly version of the real-time neuroimaging visualization software.
  • The Khronos Group has announced a WebGL Widget Contest. Here’s your chance to get your 3D content onto the WebGL spec home page! Submission deadline is August 1st, so better get crackin’.
  • CL3VER has released Version 2.1 of their viewer that touts higher performance on all devices.
  • Version 0.56 of taccGL, the JavaScript class library for HTML5, CSS and WebGL page creation by Helmut Emmelmann, is now out. taccGL can animate integrated scenes of HTML+CSS elements and 3D objects with depth buffering, lighting, and shadows; map HTML elements on 3D objects; or align 3D objects with HTML elements. Transitions include linear motion, accelerating, rotating, fading, deformation, or processing with customized shaders.

WebGL around the net, 17 June 2014

Virtual Reality and Stereo Photography lead this week’s WebGL developments.

  • At last week’s San Francisco WebGL Developers Meetup, we got a glimpse of WebGL running on the Oculus Rift. The very next day, Josh Carpenter and Vlad Vukićević of Mozilla announced that Firefox nightly builds will soon include native support for Oculus Rift head tracking and stereo rendering! Check out their great talk on the future of web VR on Air Mozilla. Also, Brandon Jones of the Chrome team said that they will follow suit with their own Oculus support in upcoming Canary builds. (FYI the Oculus WebGL demos I presented can be found here in my Vizi and Glam repos on Github.) And here’s my rant about where this is all going…
  • Last week, Light Field camera maker Lytro announced a WebGL open player for inclusion into partner web sites, so that users can upload their Lytro creations for others to view on the web.
  • At long last, Microsoft has launched an Internet Explorer development channel. New IE builds feature much higher WebGL conformance, up from 93 percent to 97 percent. See The Next Web coverage for more information.
  • San Francisco-based Ludei has released version 2.0.1 of CocoonJS, featuring performance improvements, and cloud compiler support for Apache Cordova.
  • Callum Prentice, Second Life developer by day, and enthusiastic WebGL hacker by night, has released this wonderful Three.js application template generator: fill in the blanks, and out pops a working Three.js app!
  • Check out Wizard Warz,  experimental multi-player WebGL game. Nice art!
  • Michael DeLay has created a drag-and-drop WebGL audio visualizer with beautiful graphics.

WebGL around the net, 10 June 2014

Open source gaming, terrain generators and music visualization lead this week’s WebGL headlines.

  • TOP STORY: PlayCanvas is now open source! This is an excellent game engine and great tool set. Go forth and make great games, people!
  • Isaac Sukin, author of  a book on game development with Three.js, has written a terrain generation engine for use with Three.js. Here is the code, and a really nice demo showing off the engine. It’s fast and makes great terrain using a variety of well-known algorithms.
  • WebGL jock Florian Boesch has looked into the new iOS WebGL implementation and found some issues. Here’s his report.
  • Copenhagen’s Vibeke Bertelsen aka Udart has created a trippin’ WebGL animation set to music. Two 3D models are distorted using an animated normalmap material. Bertelsen also perform live at concerts as a VJ with these WebGL graphics, tweaking the animations in real time.
  • London-based Damien Mortini has also developed a great interactive music piece. Check out this house music – literally – using Santa’s house as the interactive playground. http://www.chromeexperiments.com/detail/house/
  • Video: write massively parallel code using the GPU and WebGL. http://vimeo.com/97329154
  • Video: delightful WebGL built in the Elm functional programming language http://vimeo.com/97408205

WebGL around the net, 3 June 2014

WebGL in iOS 8. ’nuff said.

  • As reported in Gizmodo and everywhere, at yesterday’s opening day of Apple WWDC, the company showed WebGL turned on by default in Safari on the upcoming Mac OS X 10.10, code-named ‘Yosemite’. (In case people didn’t know this: WebGL has been in desktop Safari for years already, hidden under a Developer menu… but now it’s turned on by default. Nice I guess… but don’t act like you invented it, Apple!) MUCH more importantly however: people are discovering that WebGL is running in the beta of mobile Safari on iOS 8! The site HTML5 Test indicates this, as well as independent confirmation by AlteredQualia, Jay Moretti, Cecile Meuller (60FPS Quake 3 on iPad 2!!! http://vimeo.com/97167583) and there’s even been a Pearl Boy sighting. This is a very big deal. The final domino of WebGL world domination is toppling…
  • Two great tastes that go great together: Conroy’s Game of Life running in a WebGL shader http://www.chromeexperiments.com/detail/colorful-life/
  • Here is a nice Chrome Experiment using WebGL for a multiplayer football game (er, that’s “soccer” to us Yanks).
  • Blend4Web release v14.04.22 is now out, with a bunch of new features and nice demos. http://blend4web.com/en/article/17
  • Londoners: the next FREE London WebGL Workshop will be Thursday, June 26, 2014 6:30PM. They’ll be taking a look at how WebGL can be employed to visualise your data. Venue: SkillsMatter, 116-120 Goswell Road, London (http://skillsmatter.com) Register: (http://www.meetup.com/WebGL-Workshop-London/events/186608872/)
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