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WebGL: Up and Running

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WebGL: Up and Running, 9781449323578 (144932357X), O'Reilly, 2012
In early 1994, Tim Berners-Lee put out an open call for a virtual reality specification for the Web; Mark Pesce and I answered. Only being able to afford one plane ticket, we sent Mark to Geneva to present our Labyrinth prototype at the first-ever World Wide Web Developers’ Conference. With typical bombast, Mark announced to the packed room that we had “already done it.” Our demo was simple but to the point: a rotating 3D object in a window that, when clicked, launched a web browser and navigated to a hyperlink. Within a few weeks, we had a mailing list, and Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML), the seminal effort to put 3D on the Web, was underway.

A decade and a half later, 3D had finally made it into the browser, though it wouldn’t be in the form that Mark and I imagined. VRML was well intentioned but far too early— before broadband connections and dedicated graphics hardware were mainstream. VRML inspired successors and copycats, but those too fell by the wayside. Technologies came and went as people continued to hammer away at the problem. Finally, around 2009, we reached the turning point: the industry rallied around a new standard called WebGL. It’s 2012 now, and it appears that WebGL is here to stay.

WebGL brings 3D to the browser, providing a JavaScript interface to the graphics hard ware on your machine. Based on OpenGL ES (the same graphics running in your smartphone and tablet), it is developed and supported by the makers of major desktop and mobile web browsers. With WebGL, any programmer can create stunning graphics that reach millions of users via the Web: no-download games, big data visualizations, product displays, training simulations…the list goes on.

Get a quick introduction to WebGL, the new standard for 3D rendering on the Web and a member of HTML5’s family of technologies. With this hands-on guide, you’ll learn essential WebGL development and production concepts, using the JavaScript 3D engine Three.js. At the end of the book, you’ll put everything together and build a full 3D application with WebGL.

You don’t have to be a game development wizard or have 3D graphics experience to get started. If you use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript—and have familiarity with JQuery and Ajax—this book will help you gain a working knowledge of WebGL through clear and simple examples.

  • Understand core 3D graphics concepts and how to implement them in WebGL
  • Create WebGL sample pages as you learn, and build a racing game application in the final chapter
  • Get to know the Three.js open source library in detail
  • Develop working knowledge of graphics rendering, texturing, animation, interaction, and behaviors
  • Seamlessly integrate 3D graphics with other content on the page
  • Learn the tools, file formats, and techniques for developing robust and secure applications in a production environment

"WebGL: Up and Running is an ideal introduction to the world of 3D programming on the web. It’s well-written, clear, and fun. I wish it had been around when I started learning!"

—Giles Thomas, LearningWebGL.com

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