Since I released the first version of my free WebGL 3D library
nearly a year ago, I get a lot of mails by companies and hobbyists, asking me what I think. Is WebGL the future? Or is it Flash instead? Or will it become just another dead horse, like VRML
? My answer: Of course. WebGL is the future. Here is why.
Why previous attempts failed
No wonder that people keep asking this, WebGL is very new, and previous attempts like VRML or Director 3D
have failed horribly. The reasons why those previous technologies failed are simple:
Why WebGL is better
- They sucked. No, really. Have you ever tried programming something using Director (Lingo anyone?) or VRML? No'? Be glad. Their interface wasn't nice, and they were too high level.
- It just wasn't the right time. People just recently have started being used to play games with tons of megabytes of data directly on websites. And now, they want 3D. Also, today everyone has built-in, relatively fast 3D hardware.
- Programming stuff in 3D is complex. So locking people into your own, non-open, limited technology like these probably wasn't the best idea.
WebGL isn't based on a plugin. It runs directly in the browser, and is a public standard, managed by the Khronos group
. It's low level, meaning it is complicated to use for newbies, but you can do basically anything with it. For experienced programmers, it hasn't even to be learned, it's just like OpenGL ES. For these reasons, it is accepted by programmers. And although the release of it's stable 1.0 specificiation was just a few months ago, it already is available in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and soon in Opera. It even already runs on several mobile devices, including the iPhone
. And even Microsoft's InternetExplorer isn't the show stopper anymore: using the ActiveX plugin IEWebGL
, you can run your WebGL code also there. Most average users probably won't even notice they just installed that plugin, I've tried it out with CopperLicht
So it's no surprise that you see programmers forums get filled more and more with WebGL questions and demos. Also the downloads of my CopperLicht library are getting more and more. More and more companies seem to be interested in my WebGL editor CopperCube
. And even Adobe seems to plan for the near death of Flash, although they recently released a (surprisingly nice) 3D API for their flash player: They are working on HTML5 tools now
, and already killed off Flash for mobile devices
is a small step into the right direction.
, which are simplifying and abstracting WebGL a lot.
So all in all: WebGL appears to stay. It's a great technology and will be used. Just as with all new technology, it just needs a bit of time to get people used to it.