World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0024336445
Reproduction Date:

Title: WebGL  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Three.js, Virtual world framework, Bhuvan, WebCL, O3D
Collection: 3D Graphics Apis, Cross-Platform Software, Graphics Libraries, Graphics Standards, Opengl, Web Development, Webgl
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Original author(s) Mozilla Foundation
Developer(s) Khronos WebGL Working Group
Initial release March 3, 2011 (2011-03-03)[1]
Stable release 1.0.2 / March 1, 2013 (2013-03-01)
Platform Cross-platform
Available in English
Type API
Website //

WebGL (Web Graphics Library) is a non-profit Khronos Group.[4]


  • Design 1
  • History 2
  • Support 3
    • Desktop browsers 3.1
    • Mobile browsers 3.2
  • Content creation and ecosystem 4
  • Scientific Simulation 5
  • Similar technologies for 3D in a browser 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


WebGL 1.0 is based on OpenGL ES 2.0 and provides an API for 3D graphics.[5] It uses the HTML5 canvas element and is accessed using Document Object Model interfaces. Automatic memory management is provided as part of the JavaScript language.[4]

Like OpenGL ES 2.0, WebGL does not have the fixed-function APIs introduced in OpenGL 1.0 and deprecated in OpenGL 3.0. This functionality can instead be provided by the user in the JavaScript code space.

Shaders in WebGL are expressed directly in GLSL.


WebGL evolved out of the Canvas 3D experiments started by Vladimir Vukićević at Mozilla. Vukićević first demonstrated a Canvas 3D prototype in 2006. By the end of 2007, both Mozilla[6] and Opera[7] had made their own separate implementations.

In early 2009, the non-profit technology consortium Khronos Group started the WebGL Working Group, with initial participation from Apple, Google, Mozilla, Opera, and others.[4][8] Version 1.0 of the WebGL specification was released March 2011.[1] As of March 2012, the chair of the working group is Ken Russell.

Early applications of WebGL include Zygote Body.[9][10] In November 2012 Autodesk announced that they ported most of their applications to the cloud running on local WebGL clients. These applications included Fusion 360 and AutoCAD 360.[11]

Development of the WebGL 2 specification started in 2013.[12] This specification is based on OpenGL ES 3.0.


WebGL is widely supported in modern browsers. However its availability is dependent on other factors like the GPU supporting it. The official WebGL website offers a simple test page.[13] More detailed information (like what renderer the browser uses, and what extensions are available) is provided at third-party websites.[14][15]

Desktop browsers

  • Google Chrome – WebGL has been enabled on all platforms that have a capable graphics card with updated drivers since version 9, released in February 2011.[16][17] By default on Windows, Chrome uses the ANGLE (Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine) renderer to translate OpenGL ES to Direct X 9.0c or 11.0, which have better driver support.[18] On Linux and Mac OS X the default renderer is OpenGL however.[19] It is also possible to force OpenGL as the renderer on Windows.[18] Since September 2013, Chrome also has a newer Direct3D 11 renderer, which however requires a newer graphics card.[20][21]
  • Mozilla Firefox – WebGL has been enabled on all platforms that have a capable graphics card with updated drivers since version 4.0.[22] Since 2013 Firefox also uses DirectX on the Windows platform via ANGLE.[18]
  • Safari – Safari 6.0 and newer versions installed on OS X Mountain Lion, Mac OS X Lion and Safari 5.1 on Mac OS X Snow Leopard implemented support for WebGL, which was disabled by default before Safari 8.0.[23][24][25][26][27]
  • Opera – WebGL has been implemented in Opera 11 and 12, although was disabled by default in 2014.[28][29]
  • Internet Explorer – WebGL is partially supported in Internet Explorer 11.[30][31][32][33] It initially failed the majority of official WebGL conformance tests, but Microsoft later released several updates. The latest 0.94 WebGL engine currently passes ~97% of Khronos tests.[34] WebGL support can also be manually added to earlier versions of Internet Explorer using third-party plugins such as IEWebGL.[35]
  • Microsoft Edge – The initial stable release supports WebGL version 0.95 (context name: "experimental-webgl").

Mobile browsers

  • BlackBerry 10 – WebGL is available for BlackBerry devices since OS version 10.00[36]
  • BlackBerry PlayBook – WebGL is available via WebWorks and browser in PlayBook OS 2.00[37]
  • Android Browser – Basically unsupported, but the Sony Ericsson Xperia range of Android smartphones have had WebGL capabilities following a firmware upgrade.[38] Samsung smartphones also have WebGL enabled (verified on Galaxy SII (4.1.2) and Galaxy Note 8.0 (4.2)). Supported in Google Chrome that replaced Android browser in many phones (but is not a new standard Android Browser).
  • Internet Explorer - WebGL is available on Windows Phone 8.1
  • [40]
  • [40]
  • Google Chrome – WebGL is available for Android devices since Google Chrome 25 and enabled by default since version 30.[41]
  • Maemo – In Nokia N900, WebGL is available in the stock microB browser from the PR1.2 firmware update onwards.[42]
  • [40]
  • Opera Mobile - Opera Mobile 12 supports WebGL (on Android only).[43]
  • Sailfish OS - WebGL is supported in the default Sailfish browser.[44]
  • Tizen - WebGL is supported[45]
  • Ubuntu Touch
  • WebOS
  • iOS – WebGL is available for mobile Safari, in iOS 8.[46]

Content creation and ecosystem

The WebGL API may be too tedious to use directly without some utility libraries, which for example set up typical view transformation shaders (e.g. for view frustum). Loading scene graphs and 3D objects in the popular industry formats is also not directly provided for. JavaScript libraries have been built (or sometimes ported to WebGL) to provide the additional functionality. A non-exhaustive list of libraries that provide many high-level features includes three.js, O3D, OSG.JS, CopperLicht and GLGE. There also has been a rapid emergence of game engines for WebGL,[47] including Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5.[48] The Stage3D/Flash-based Away3D high-level library also has a port to WebGL via TypeScript.[20][49] A more light-weight utility library that provides just the vector and matrix math utilities for shaders is sylvester.js.[50][51] It is sometimes used in conjunction with a WebGL specific extension called glUtils.js.[50][52]

There are also some 2D libraries built on top of WebGL like Cocos2d-x or Pixi.js, which were implemented this way for performance reasons, in a move that parallels what happened with the Starling Framework over Stage3D in the Flash world. The WebGL-based 2D libraries fall back to HTML5 canvas when WebGL is not available.[53]

Removing the rendering bottleneck by giving almost direct access to the GPU also exposed performance limitations in the JavaScript implementations. Some were addressed by asm.js. (Similarly, the introduction of Stage3D exposed performance problems within ActionScript, which were addressed by projects like CrossBridge.)[53]

Creating content for WebGL scenes often means using a regular 3D content creation tool and exporting the scene to a format that is readable by the viewer or helper library. Desktop 3D authoring software such as Blender, Autodesk Maya or SimLab Composer can be used for this purpose. Particularly, Blend4Web allows a WebGL scene to be authored entirely in Blender and exported to a browser with a single click, even as a standalone web page.[54] There are also some WebGL-specific software such as CopperCube and the online WebGL-based editor Online platforms such as Sketchfab and allow users to directly upload their 3D models and display them using a hosted WebGL viewer.

Additionally, Mozilla Firefox implemented built-in WebGL tools starting with version 27 that allow editing vertex and fragment shaders.[55] A number of other debugging and profiling tools have also emerged.[56]

X3D also made a project called X3DOM to make X3D and VRML content running on WebGL. The 3D model will in XML tag in HTML5 and interactive script will use JavaScript and DOM. BS Content Studio and InstantReality X3D exporter can exported X3D in HTML and running by WebGL.

Scientific Simulation

Beside great works done in 3D web design and many examples made by web developers in this area and also in gaming, some researchers used WebGL for their scientific purposes. For example, in a book named "Cellular Automata" the authors have used this technology to simulate Debris flow for the article "Visualization of molecular structures using state-of-the-art techniques in WebGL" tried to simulate molecules with it. More basic examples like simulation of the solar system are made many times by developers.

Similar technologies for 3D in a browser

Java OpenGL is fairly similar layer to WebGL in the Java world, whereas Stage3D is the equivalent layer in Adobe Flash Player 11 and later. Google Native Client also supports OpenGL ES 2.0.[57]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ IE11 fails more than half tests in official WebGL conformance test suite
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ a b c
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ a b
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ a b
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^

External links

  • Official website
  • WebGL /Canvas 3D Preview in WebKit r48331
  • WebGL Demos from Google Chromium (deprecated and broken), all the samples of which seem to have ended up at .orgwebglsamples
  • Mozilla Developer Network
  • Unofficial WebGL Games Community
  • Matti Anttonen & Arto Salminen Building 3D WebGL Applications
  • WebGL Fundamentals

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.