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WebGL gets update and COLLADA becomes ISO Standard

Industry-standards Khronos Group announces new standards and development of WebGL format for advancing 3D on the web


Last week on the heels of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) the Khronos Group made several announcements pertinent to the 3D market (and not just for gaming). The Khronos Group has announced that WebGL, a standard for Web-enabled 3D graphics, has been updated and that the 3D file format COLLADA has been endorsed by The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard for the exchange of 3D information.

Both formats have been linked to a way to further extend great 3D content on the Web. WebGL is now at version 1.0.1 and now fully conformant to a range of desktop and mobile platforms, with many more to follow. The browser and GPU communities have been working diligently in the WebGL working group to resolve GPU issues and tighten the WebGL specification by precisely defining behaviors to provide a trusted and reliable platform that provides portability for 3D content within HTML5 browsers across diverse platforms. The latest WebGL specification is here.

WebGL Details

WebGL 1.0.2 Specifications Tighten Specified Behaviors such as:

  • adds many clarifications for specification behavioral precision – principally thanks to Mozilla;
  • mandates support for certain combinations of framebuffer formats, to ease developer adoption;
  • clarifies interactions with the encompassing HTML5 platform, including the browser compositor and high-DPI displays;
  • dramatically increases the number of conformance tests to roughly 21,000 to improve both the breadth and depth of test coverage – thanks principally to work by Gregg Tavares at Google and the OpenGL ES working group.

Additional WebGL working items submitted focusing on optional extensions include:

  • JavaScript-level debugging of WebGL API calls and shaders;
  • a query to ensure lost context events are handled correctly – such as when a mobile device is powered off when WebGL is executing;
  • additional 3D functionality from the OpenGL ES 2.0 ecosystem such as anisotropic filtering, standard derivatives and vertex array objects.


COLLADA 1.5.0 has been published as an official ISO standard to provide a reliable, long-term international standard for 3D asset authoring and interchange.

In addition, the COLLADA working group announces that it has delivered on key objectives agreed with the COLLADA community over the last year.  By working with NetAllied, the OpenCOLLADA open-source importer/exporter has been significantly upgraded to provide proven, robust operation and hosted on GitHub for free and easy adoption by tools vendors and the COLLADA community.  The OpenCOLLADA SDK offers direct write and parsing import capabilities, and robust support for full COLLADA import/export, which is superior to many commercial solutions. OpenCOLLADA is available under the MIT license and Khronos encourages its free-of-charge integration in commercial and proprietary tools. OpenCOLLADA can be found here.

Further, today the COLLADA Working Group announces the formation of the new “glTF” project to define a final stage OpenGL Transmission Format to enable rapid delivery and loading of 3D content by OpenGL®, OpenGL ES or WebGL™ APIs. glTF™ together with COLLADA comprise a standards-based content pipeline for rich 3D web and mobile applications.  Khronos will make drafts of the glTF file format publicly available during development to enable feedback and integration of requirements from the wider industry and will also create a sample open source COLLADA to glTF convertor.  More information on glTF is available here.

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