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WebKit adding support for GPU-accelerated 3D via WebGL

post #1 of 19
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WebKit developers are adding support for WebGL, a new API designed to deliver hardware accelerated 3D graphics within the web browser without the use of a separate plugin.

According to a report posted by a developer on the Wolfire Blog, WebGL provides HTML5's Canvas with hardware accelerated 3D rendering features by adding a JavaScript binding for OpenGL ES 2.0, enabling web developers to present 3D scenes and models that tap the full native processing power of the client's graphics hardware.

The open, royalty-free WebGL specification is administered by the Khronos Group, the same organization that manages OpenGL and the new OpenCL API for cross-platform and GPU vender-neutral general purpose computing on GPU hardware.

Being able to render rich 3D content on the web without a proprietary, opaque binary runtime plugin such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft's Silverlight means that any standards-based device can be targeted by web games developers, from a desktop web browser to a mobile device like the iPhone. The technology can also be used to animate complex navigation and data visualizations.

Earlier this summer, WebKit added support for CSS 3D transforms, which allow web developers to position page elements in a 3D space. Apple rapidly added support for that feature in iPhone 2.0 and Safari 4.0.

Support for WebGL's hardware accelerated 3D rendering is likely to be similarly exposed within desktop and mobile versions of Safari over the next few months, opening up new potential for increasingly sophisticated web apps and rich media content. A public release of WebGL is scheduled for the first half of 2010.

Google, Mozilla, Opera and various GPU hardware vendors have joined in on the industry consensus to deliver advanced 3D web graphics using open standards, building support behind the Khronos portfolio of technology specifications.
post #2 of 19
Interesting. So we might finally have a new and better system than Flash and that horrid Silverlight.
post #3 of 19
Should be good for Wikipedia, they could have 3d spinning molecules and such.
post #4 of 19
Sounds good for web-developers who makes iPhone compatible websites...
post #5 of 19
A knife right in flash/silverlights heart .Live free under a msft free sky
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post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Should be good for Wikipedia, they could have 3d spinning molecules and such.

Not really. Microsoft won't be supporting this anyway and the web will always remain stuck at whatever MS chooses to implement in IE.
post #7 of 19
Assuming in the future people are using a Desktop PC running Windows to access the web.

Increasingly the trend is towards cheaper and portable devices, which is only set to accelerate.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorre View Post

Not really. Microsoft won't be supporting this anyway and the web will always remain stuck at whatever MS chooses to implement in IE.

I'm not so sure anymore.

In the last few years and especially with the advent of webkit, the web standards train has turned from the little engine that could into a huge steamtrain bearing down on Microsoft at full speed.

Mozilla came very close to switching to webkit (they would have if not for the GPL-ist faction), and everyone else is already riding the train. I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft eventually cave on this one. They are weak now and their development is years and years behind.

Maybe we will see a MS webkit browser in WinMobile 7. It would be actually quite typical of them to both leave large swaths of users and developers out in the cold by switching, and also to not only jump on the latest bandwagon, but claim they were instrumental in building it.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by John French View Post

Interesting. So we might finally have a new and better system than Flash and that horrid Silverlight.

Flash maybe, but sadly not Silverlight.

Silverlight's "advantage" is that it supports DRM, while Flash does not. the only website that uses Silverlight (that I'm aware of, I'm sure there are others) besides Microsoft is Netflix. Netflix's hands are likely tied in this matter-- undoubtedly the studios told them, "no DRM, no streaming".

Also, as another poster already pointed out, WebGL is sadly dependent on Microsoft. If Microsoft doesn't adopt it, then there's little reason for major web sites to adopt it. Even is the combined marketshare of all non-IE browsers reaches 50%, no [major] website will want to shut out 50% of it's users. Case in point, look it how many sites are still supporting the crappy IE-6 browser, despite it being nine years old.

But, I could be wrong on all this. I hope I'm wrong. (but afraid I'm not).

-Rick
post #10 of 19
This is great. Comments about open standards picking up speed are spot on. Despite Microsoft jumping back into the development fray, IE 8 still lags behind in speed and optimizations. They were smart to add tangible features that were to enhance the browser experience, not to make more proprietary technologies (other than silverlight) because those days of initial browser innovation are past. And the best part is that browser advancement is no longer stagnant.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Maybe we will see a MS webkit browser in WinMobile 7. It would be actually quite typical of them to both leave large swaths of users and developers out in the cold by switching, and also to not only jump on the latest bandwagon, but claim they were instrumental in building it.



You know MS has done a few innovative things. For example many people do not realize that MS invented AJAX ( or innerHTML to be more precise) back in 1999. Some people have just assumed that Google invented it since they recently popularized it. Up until HTML 5 it was not a standard method but finally has been included in the W3C spec.

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post #12 of 19
WebGL will be just as useful as OpenGL, no more. It is just a way to make raw OpenGL calls available to Javascript. Working in pure unadulterated OpenGL, with no scenegraph support, won't be the kind of thing 98%+ of the web developers will want to mess with. We need A LOT more before WebGL really becomes useful. it's a great start, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here and create a bubble of expectation that the software and tools are still a number of years away from being able to support.
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post #13 of 19
OpenGL doesn't just mean 3D either. It can be used to basically draw anything you want. Shake's interface is drawn in OpenGL for example. This is required to rival Flash but there still needs to be an IDE to build web apps of this nature. XCode + Interface Builder would be great. Imagine if instead of manually coding divs and tables, you could just drag and drop like in IB.

I'm very pleased to see this development. When I saw the hardware acceleration features in Flash 10, it looked like Adobe would again have the upper hand. If Firefox jumped to webkit, that would add a lot of weight against Microsoft and websites with advanced graphics might draw people to switch to a browser supporting them.

I've long had the opinion that web standards should be an implementation, not a spec sheet. I know practically it hasn't always been possible in the past to have the same code-base for rendering web code but now there's no excuse. All current hardware can run webkit and if there's a mass adoption, it means that it gains one of the biggest strengths that Flash has - one content distribution is guaranteed to work against the version it's meant to run under regardless of the platform.
post #14 of 19
All to the good; especially bypassing the Adobe Flash Player as a plug-in. However, if I understand this right, you will need a graphic card that can support OpenGL ES 2.0 or better.

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post #15 of 19
This sounds pretty promising. I can see basic 3D games being popular, or 3D menus and UI elements on web pages. Way to go Apple for the open source side of things!
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post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Rick_V_ View Post

Flash maybe, but sadly not Silverlight.

Silverlight's "advantage" is that it supports DRM, while Flash does not. the only website that uses Silverlight (that I'm aware of, I'm sure there are others) besides Microsoft is Netflix. Netflix's hands are likely tied in this matter-- undoubtedly the studios told them, "no DRM, no streaming".

Also, as another poster already pointed out, WebGL is sadly dependent on Microsoft. If Microsoft doesn't adopt it, then there's little reason for major web sites to adopt it. Even is the combined marketshare of all non-IE browsers reaches 50%, no [major] website will want to shut out 50% of it's users. Case in point, look it how many sites are still supporting the crappy IE-6 browser, despite it being nine years old.

But, I could be wrong on all this. I hope I'm wrong. (but afraid I'm not).

-Rick

Silverlight is not required for DRM or encrypted streaming. HTTP Live Streaming provides an open, plugin-free capacity for delivering encrypted streams to paid subscribers for example. Any you don't need a plugin to deliver iTunes content such as FairPlay movies on demand.

The reason web standards were largely stagnant between 1996 and 2006 is because there was not enough critical mass behind credible alternatives to IE. Today, IE doesn't even matter on among mobiles, and even on the desktop Firefox has taken a big chunk, Macs are IE-free, and Google is pushing Chrome as a browser and as a Windows replacement.

With Mozilla, Google, Apple, and all of the mobile vendors all supporting HTML5, it doesn't matter if IE doesn't. Sure, IT groups will prevent open content within their domains, but consumers will snap up a browser that "works" just as they dumped WMP for iTunes to use the iPod. Not too long ago, you could have similarly argued that iTunes wouldn't matter because Windows was tied to WMP. Things change.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Levi Black View Post

With Mozilla, Google, Apple, and all of the mobile vendors all supporting HTML5, it doesn't matter if IE doesn't. Sure, IT groups will prevent open content within their domains, but consumers will snap up a browser that "works" just as they dumped WMP for iTunes to use the iPod. Not too long ago, you could have similarly argued that iTunes wouldn't matter because Windows was tied to WMP. Things change.

I would love to see some stats about what percentage of people use WMP to iTunes that don't have an iPOD. Personally I do prefer iTunes and used it before I got an iPOD, but the argument that the majority of people dumped WMP for iTunes is blurred as anyone with an iPOD is forced to use iTunes. The larger percentage of people I know when they didn't have iPODs also all still used WMP.

As mentioned before its great WebKit supporting this but it isn't going to make a huge difference to the sites we see because of so many people still running IE6, and that isn't Microsofts fault. Like they say if they go to your house for dinner and your running IE6, you wont be by the time you leave.
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post



You know MS has done a few innovative things. For example many people do not realize that MS invented AJAX ( or innerHTML to be more precise) back in 1999. Some people have just assumed that Google invented it since they recently popularized it. Up until HTML 5 it was not a standard method but finally has been included in the W3C spec.

Yet, Microsoft didn't write HTML 5. It was Apple and Google. And now they're bitching about this and that in the spec that weakens their proprietary hold on IE only solutions.
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post



You know MS has done a few innovative things. For example many people do not realize that MS invented AJAX ( or innerHTML to be more precise) back in 1999. Some people have just assumed that Google invented it since they recently popularized it. Up until HTML 5 it was not a standard method but finally has been included in the W3C spec.

AJAX is a rather loose term referring to a bundling of existing technologies. MS certainly played a role in the development of many web technologies, including some in AJAX. However, to say that MS "invented" AJAX is a pretty extreme stretch.

Some of the components that make up AJAX today, are implementations based upon early work by Microsoft. The key phrase is "based on". MS consistently fought to ruin web standards because they rightfully recognized that web browsers could make OS choice irrelevant. This was a huge threat to their near OS monopoly. Hence, code that was based upon Microsoft's work, quickly diverged from what MS had originally implemented. MS actively sought to make their implementation different from 3rd party implementations.

Ironically, some of these technologies have come full circle and MS is now seeking to support that which it used to try and thwart. XMLHttpRequest is one such example.
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