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SIG: Khronos Details WebGL Initiative

At Siggraph the Khronos Group outlined its plans for WebGL — bringing synergy between OpenGL developers and Web developers to enable rich-interactive 3D on the Web without browser plugins.

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At Siggraph in New Orleans last week the Khronos Group announced details of its new WebGL plans and working group. The group is focused on developing hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in Web pages without the need for browser plugins. First announced at the Game Developers Conference in March of this year (2009), the WebGL working group includes many industry leaders such as AMD, Ericsson, Google, Nvidia, Opera and Mozilla. 

What is WebGL

WebGL is defined as a Javascript binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 to enable rich 3D graphics within any standards-based browser, on any OS platform that supports OpenGL and OpenGL ES graphics standards. The group is working on specifications to provide content portability across diverse browsers and platforms. 

The first public release of WebGL is scheduled for the first half of 2010. 

WebGL will leverage recent developments in HTML 5.0 specification, including the use of the Canvas element. Accelerated OpenGL ES functionality that is directly accessible from JavaScript is expected to encourage a wide variety of 3D-enhanced Web applications, including those with rich user interfaces.

“Google is committed to open web standards and is very excited to be part of the WebGL initiative,” said Matt Papakipos, engineering director at Google. “We believe that WebGL is an important step toward making high-performance 3D possible in the browser.”

OpenGL and Canvas

“The Web has already seen the wide proliferation of compelling 2D graphical applications, and we think 3D is the next step for Firefox. We look forward to a new class of 3D-enriched Web applications within Canvas, and for creative synergy between OpenGL developers and Web developers,” said Arun Ranganathan of Mozilla and chair of the WebGL working group.

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