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?

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.
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