The Apple, Google, Mozilla and Opera-backed WebGL project took a significant step forward yesterday, after the Khronos group pushed out a public draft specification of the WebKit-derived code. Publication of the rough-round-the-edges specification means more web developers can now tinker with, and enhance, the code. Of course …
Not at the idea of 3D web pages - that horrifies me.
However, if it takes off then maybe it will force Nvidia and ATI to fully open up their hardware APIs so that *nix machines can, you know, use their full power with open source drivers.
I've never managed to get full 3d hardware acceleration off the GPU to work in Ubuntu. Mind you, I haven't tried for a while, maybe it's improved in the last year.Got an XFX HD 4850 512mb XXX edition working with full acceleration on Ubuntu anyone?
Party like it's 1999
The 3D web experience is almost here, *just like it was 10 years ago*!
VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) was all the rage then. Whatever happened to that?
It turned into X3D, but anyway...
VRML wasn't hardware accelerated, and even if it had been GFX cards weren't up to scratch. It needed a plugin to work, and back then everyone was on dialup, so it took an age and a half to load.
Similar 3D plugins and effects that came in later via Flash proved much more popular. With almost everyone on broadband, much more powerful PCs, and browser makers building support straight in, I think we're in a much better position to make it work.
Not in IE though. Those morons still haven't even given us SVG support.
I was shite,
It required a plugin,
The plugin was also shite - THREE things...
I even had a mate who made a navigable 3D tour of his house in it. Worked reasonably well even on the scrappy hardware available (if by "well", you're satisfied with output sitting somewhere between 3D Construction Kit on the 16-bits and Quake on a non-3Dfx'ed Pentium) but must have been a bitch to program because he lost patience with completing it. Can't remember if it actually did need a plugin... surely it would have been integrated into browsers as time went on? It's not that complex an idea really. If you can fit complete 3D games for older systems into less than a meg, then putting one in a hijacked image frame in a browser can't be too heavy on the resources?
Plus somewhere in my inherited collection of cheap tat CDs my dad couldn't stop buying from the local computer shop, there's a "3D Web Designer" program that ostensibly spits out working VRML sites with an "easy" bit of mousework. I'll have to fire it up, see if it works, see if browsers still accept it.
What in all this suggests that WebGL won't go the same way, anyhow? I mean, if the only thing that was stopping VRML was a "lack" of accelerator cards (they weren't THAT rare at the time, really, certainly not for people who could afford a modem and by-the-minute internet access...) or decent CPUs, crap bandwidth and hooky plugins, all of that could have been ironed out or just improved by the passage of time for VRML. And people's higher standards for online content these days (games like Crysis, flash-heavy sites and video streaming, stuff that actually does tend to "just work") may mean a similarly critical eye is cast on it even though it could be piles better. Could just be that 3D interfaces actually don't work too well if you're not physically walking through them? I mean, we do have Second Life, but that's not useful for a great deal of "real" use, other than the odd gimmicky virtual seminar.
I say put WebGL to simmer on the back burner for a bit until we have fully immersive cerebral hookups to our PCs, then its time will properly come.
Business adoption of Web3D
Its got one major flaw. The HTML contains the 3d source code. Therefore as soon as you deploy a 3d web application, your competitors can go through your source code. With a text based HTML, thats not an issue, as its easy to code, but a 3d engine is a lot more investment work.
e.g. Heres 3 demos.
In Firefox, open up any of the three demos, then right click, view-page-source, and search for Canvas.
I'm all for open source, but businesses still need to earn a living. People can't create 3d applications that can simply be ripped off within 10 seconds of opening the page up. If the 3d were via say Java it would be a bit more protected, but currently thats unfortunately got the barrier of plug in like download behavior which is a major killer for adoption of 3d in a web page.
Its amazing how many years its taking to get 3d in a web page sorted out.
OpenGL in the browser means you can have a 3d view of a product, or do Google Earth inside the browser - without plugins
Theres no reason the graphics card makers need to open anything, in fact they can do less - you could even imagine the webgl commands being routed directly to the card more-or-less bypassing the OS.
Don't want to be pessimistic or anything
A bit later on MS will join the WebGL group, then start working on a conflicting spec called LiveXtrem3D or something. WebGL will become viable before LiveNetX3D, but when WindowsLiveX3D is finally usable, MS will leave the group while a lot of companies which have farty 3D websites will mysteriously decide to use Microsoft Internet.COM 2.0 3D Technology instead of the WebGL standard.
Waiting for the first 3D porn site. That will be the first sign it is a viable technology.