Khronos has shown off their newest updates to the WebGL and Collada 3D API that enable an easier way of enabling hardware accelerated graphics in browser and improved 3D asset management.
WebGL is by no measure a new standard, however, there is an update to the standard which is now shipping in 1.0.1 and has fully compliant implementations. Initially, there were some serious GPU driver issues that needed to be resolved, partially pertaining to security and partially due overall stability. As a result of that, we can now harness our GPUs inside of our browsers to help render 3D assets in-browser. However, currently the only commercially shipping browser with this support is Google’s Chrome release 25. This makes WebGL compliant across Windows, Mac and Linux. Mozilla and Nvidia will shortly follow Chrome’s lead with announcements coming soon.
Also, the WebGL 1.0.2 update and a set of WebGL extensions have already been ratified and will be formally released in April. What we really is the coolest thing about WebGL is the fact that Unigine’s game engine has actually been ported to WebGL enabling one of the coolest demos we’ve ever seen.
The actual demo can be found here and is just as impressive in the browser as it was when it originally ran on our desktops back in the day.
The second annoucement from Khronos comes in the form of their COLLADA standard which is now being combined with GL APIs to enable a way to carry 3D data. By creating the GL Transmission Format (glTF) they are able to bridge the gap between COLLADA and GL APIs and to help create a carrier. This carrier is designed to use JSON to describe scenegraph as well as multiple other files necessary to recreate a full scene. These include astc, .png, .jpg textures, .bin verices and indices as well as .glsl shader materials.
By creating glTF, they are able to more easily transmit data from applications into APIs that are easily managed by apps that utilize OpenGL, OpenGL|ES and WebGL. This allows for a much broader ability to transport certain applications securely across platforms without having to worry about compatibility among other problems.