A year and a half ago I presented WebGL for the first time to the crowd at Dorkbot San Francisco. Full of excitement that the browser makers finally, really shipped it, I spun the big vision and showed the most beautiful demos I could get my hands on. Back then it was Aki Rodic’s Chrysaora jellyfish forest, the Zygote visible human simulation, and Brandon Jones’ insane port of Id Software’s RAGE. Still crowd-pleasers, all.
This year it’s different. Things have moved from buzz to reality, and the reality is good. Last week I gave the Dorkbot crew an update from the front lines. While the demos aren’t as exciting as a year ago, they are more real. They’re about visualization, mapping, 3D printing, terrain generation, new devices and just creating fun projects– in other words, the stuff of web development. The overriding theme is that WebGL is here to stay, it’s appearing in real applications, on new devices, in money-making products and books (nudge nudge as in by yours truly). These are wonderful developments… but frankly I am just relieved that some skittish product manager at Google or Apple didn’t yank WebGL support sometime in the past year. Paranoia? Perhaps. But after watching 3D appear on the web in fits and starts for fifteen years, indulge me.
Apologies for the lame HTML page graphics, it’s been a busy summer and I had to put it together on the spot.