3D in a Browser ? Oh really ?

Last week, at the GDC in San Francisco, the Khronos group announced an initiative to bring accelerated 3D graphics to the web. At Altadyn, we have been long time believers of web 3D through a browser, since the company’s inception in 2002, so we were curious what is new in this initiative, as were some of 3DXplorer users. This short Q/A list helps better positioning this news.

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Is this a new web 3D platform ? No it’s not a platform comparable to 3DXplorer , OpenSim or other platforms, as it’s missing many components of a platform; It’s missing the 3D engine to start with.

What is this initiative promoting ? Before promoting anything, with this initiative, Khronos, Mozilla and to some extent Google, have joined those who believe that 3D on the web will be within a browser, and without any download. To do so, they are promoting several technologies: 1) OpenGL as a graphics library for accelerating animations and rendering on any computer. 2) Javascript, as an open, light, portable, web language for programming. 3) Mozilla’s browser (Firefox) and other products.

What is it exactly ? The proposed spec is a light wrapper on top of OpenGL ES 2.0, with some changes to support some JavaScript pleasantries.

What problem does it solves? It will enable web developers, mainly game developers, to develop browser-based games which will use hardware accelerator boards.

Which companies or technologies is this announcement aiming at ? Microsoft and Adobe are the clear targets. (explains why Google endorsed it). Without a seamless 3D accelerator with Open GL, game developers may be attracted by either DirectX and other Microsoft environments, or the proprietary flash language from Adobe, both becoming less interesting than the universal Javascript and the powerful Open GL

Conclusion: This vision is very similar and close to our vision at Altadyn, the one which is leading 3DXplorer’s road map. As you know, already since early 2008, we have actually delivered a web3D platform which is using OpenGL, programmable in Javascript, and executable within a browser (Mozilla’s browser, but also other competitive browser, actually any browser). So we have a kind of “déjà vu” impression, but still delighted to see that this trend is strengthened and to notice that more organizations are working on more adoptions of browser-based, plug-in-less, web3D platforms.

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2 Responses

  1. I think the key is “with no download”. Just like with Flash, the tipping point for in-browser 3D will occur when the barrier to entry is just the click of a link. Well, and hardware accelerated 3D :-).

  2. […] in a browser, now Google’s turn again. After Khronos group’s initiative that we commented recently, and after premature retirement of Lively (browser-based, but requiring a client installation), […]

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