Wish you could play Crysis in your Web browser? Two influential organizations are banding together to try to bring accelerated 3D graphics to the Web, a move that eventually could improve online games and other Web applications.
The Web is gradually becoming a better foundation for applications with splashy, sophisticated interfaces, but 3D graphics on the Web remain primitive. Now, though, Mozilla, the group behind the Firefox browser, and Khronos, the consortium that oversees the widely used OpenGL graphics interface technology, are trying to jointly create a standard for accelerated 3D graphics on the Web.
In response to a Mozilla proposal, Khronos established an Accelerated 3D on Web working group to create a royalty-free specification. The goal is to produce a first public version within 12 months, Khronos said in an announcement at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco.
Mozilla plans to release the technology first as an extension to its browser sometime after Firefox 3.5 is released.
Added Mozilla's Vladimir Vukicevic, who's been involved in 3D Web experimentation:
Finally, people are doing more and more on the Web, and are coming to expect more from the applications that they use. Web applications already have access to features that have traditionally been reserved for desktop apps, including being able to work while offline, storing data locally, multiple choices for 2D graphics, and native audio & video support. Adding 3D to this mix ensures that current Web apps can experiment with new user experiences, while also enabling new classes of Web applications.
There's a long distance between a draft specification, a real standard, and incorporation into enough browsers that Web developers will be able to count on it, so don't expect anything revolutionary immediately. Meanwhile, Adobe is working to build 3D technology into its Flash plug-in for browsers, so other alternatives already popular with online gaming programmers exist.
But as the Internet matures, a number of allies are making gradual progress through HTML 5 and other efforts to build sophisticated technology into open Web standards that don't need a plug-in.