Web Browsers Flirt with 3D

June 12, 2009 2 min read

Is the web ready to adopt plugin-less 3D and advanced 2D?

Are web browsers ready for a new wave of 3D and vector-based 2D content (plugin-less)? Is the web ready to adopt 3D and advanced 2D with the same enthusiasm it recently adopted videos? Those were the questions discussed yesterday evening in Cupertino at the Apple headquarters by a group of tech enthusiasts attending a presentation organized by the Silicon Valley chapter of the ACM SIGGRAPH. The official topic of the event was "Browser Standards from 2D to 3D."

there is not a fully recognized 3D standard for the web

Vladimir Vukicevic (blog), a Firefox technical lead, went through the recent evolution of web browsers and described all the important improvements and enhancements generated by a more competitive environment where FireFox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, and Google Chrome are competing for market share. In the long list of new capabilities of the current generation 3D was clearly absent, as we all know. Vladimir explained that there is not a fully recognized 3D standard for the web. Browser developers within the Khronos Group are getting close to a final decision on how to approach 3D features. The struggle is between providing a complete set of 3D APIs (at a level comparable to OpenGL), and keeping everything as simple as possible in order to attract the largest number of web developers. Currently the optimal solution seems for the browser to expose a complete 3D API while allowing advanced developers to build on top of it a layer of software (or library) providing higher level access to less technical web developers (more info here).

who do we expect will be the first to jump on the new 3D opportunities?

In a year from now we may be witnessing the diffusion of 3D capable web browsers (starting from Firefox 3.5) and hopefully the appearance of the first 3D web applications not requiring a plug-in. Who do we expect will be the first to jump on the new 3D opportunities? New CAD systems running from the cloud on the browser? Simple 3D widgets integrated into traditional webpages? New applications able to exploit the 3D capabilities of the browser? Server based CAD viewers? New 3D searching tools? Online 3D games?

What is your opinion?

Franco Folini

Franco Folini
Franco Folini


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