Watching WebGL

Posted by Area Editor, 31 May 2011 8:00 pm

Engineers have been tackling the complex technical challenge of bringing GPU hardware acceleration into web browsers to enable great looking 3D content on the web. It’s a logical effort since GPUs are now for the most part ubiquitous on all modern computers. With browser wars heating up, along with efforts to provide more robust online experiences, we’re seeing some interesting new technologies taking center stage.

Furthermore, HTML5 delivers on the promise of delivering an app-like user experience but without the constraints of an app-store framework, right through web serving which is perfect for tablets and mobile!

WebGL enables GPU acceleration and is proving to have the potential to unlock a great opportunity for sharing and generating high-quality interactive 3D content online.

Early demos of WebGL implementations showcase the possibility of having real-time engines to drive 3D graphics in the web browser by tapping into the GPU. As technologies like WebGL take hold, we see the barriers for impressive 3D content on the web breaking wide open.

At Autodesk, we’ve eagerly anticipated the maturing of API standards in frameworks like WebGL because the more mainstream they become, the easier it will be for great 3D content to proliferate online.

As Autodesk senior software engineer Antonio Licon has been blogging, we’ve been experimenting with ways to view robust 3D files directly in web browsers tapping technologies like HTML 5, SVG and WebGL. We’ve been getting very interesting results, and WebGL is proving to be a great framework for 3D applications on the web.

Google also recently released a very interesting video talk that went into further detail about how they’ve managed to move shaders onto the GPU in Chrome using WebGL—and demonstrated thousands of objects running in a scene at 50 frames per second. These are early developments, but very promising.

As popularity of these technologies rise, we see an exciting new publishing target for our customers. . Both Flash/Molehill and HTML5/WebGL promise to give you, our users new opportunities to create new genres of interactive 3D content for the web, either for entertainment (games) or for marketing and advertising. If one day every frame of a web page or an app served through the web is able to deliver the visual experience of a games console, we anticipate that our customers will be at the forefront of creating some amazing new experiences online!

Rock on,



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