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21 September 2009, 14:40

Firefox Nightly Builds gain WebGL support

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Minefield The Mozilla developers have started to integrate GPU-accelerated 3D capabilities via WebGL into their latest Nightly Builds of Firefox 3.7. WebGL was announced by the Khronos Group in early August at this years SIGGRAPH, an international conference and exhibition on computer graphics.

WebGL is a royalty free specification that's essentially a JavaScript binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 (Open Graphics Library for Embedded Systems) that allows browsers to display hardware accelerated 3D graphics without the need for a plug-in. According to a blog post by Mozilla developer Vladimir Vukićević, there are still some interoperability, shader security and portability issues as the WebGL specification has yet to be finalised, however, Mozilla and the Khronos Group are making "very rapid progress".

The current trunk Nightly Builds, also called Minefield builds, don't have WebGL enabled by default. Developers interested in experimenting with WebGL must first manually enable it. To do so, users must first enter about:config into the browsers location bar and then set the webgl.enabled_for_all_sites setting value to "true". Vukićević says that users will "have the most luck on MacOS X machines or Windows machines with up-to-date OpenGL drivers".

Other companies that have already committed their support to the WebGL initiative include Opera and Google, which is also developing its own experimental browser plug-in called O3D.

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