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20 October 2009, 17:38

WebGL introduces 3D to the WebKit browser engine

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Zoom WebGL can be used for creating various elements, such as 3D animations.
The Khronos Group announced its WebGL initiative at the SIGGRAPH conference last August. Four weeks ago, the functionality became available to enthusiasts, who could download and compile the source code and begin to play around in WebKit, provided they had set the appropriate flag when translating. WebGL is a royalty free specification that's essentially a JavaScript binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 (Open Graphics Library for Embedded Systems) which allows browsers to display hardware accelerated 3D graphics, without the need for a plug-in.

Now, the WebKit browser WebGL implementation has been made generally available as binary code. As recently reported in the relevant developer blog, the free engine's "nightly builds" have supported the 3D technology since the beginning of October. While there don't seem to be any plans for WebGL support for the Windows version, interested Mac users can download the executable program and enable WebGL by entering

defaults write WebKitWebGLEnabled -bool YES

into the terminal window.

The blog post offers a comprehensive example that demonstrates how developers can use the 3D features with JavaScript. Just as for 2D drawings, inserting a canvas element on the web page will result in the graphic being displayed.

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