Mozilla and Khronos Hook Up in 3D Graphics Initiative

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 25, 2009

Mozilla and graphics consortium the Khronos Group have announced a far-reaching new initiative to bring accelerated 3D graphics to the web. With many representatives from Khronos on hand at this week's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, the joint initiative is being discussed there. As BBC News notes, "it could lead to widespread browser-based gaming as well as creating 3D environments in social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace."

We've written widely about how open source, 3D worlds, and 3D gaming are converging, including here, and here. In a blog post, Mozilla's Graphics Team Lead, Vladimir Vukicevic says:

“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 and 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.”

Chris Blizzard, Mozilla’s director of evangelism, adds that work done by Mozilla and Khronos will probably arrive in the release of Firefox that immediately follows the upcoming 3.5 release (3.5 is the new name for Firefox 3.1):

“This is a pretty big deal for us and for the web, and is really a reflection of the continued acceleration of open web technology well beyond just the classic HTML and JavaScript that we’ve seen in the past. “It’s our intention to include this as base functionality in the release after Firefox 3.5, assuming all goes well on the standards front.”

Mozilla and Khronos intend to develop a standard that would let developers use JavaScript to tap into powerful OpenGL graphics interface technology. On the gaming front, this could allow users to play immersive 3D games directly through their browsers, without time-consuming downloads.

Extensions for games could also take off, just as Firefox extensions have, and I agree with BBC News that social networks such as Facebook and MySpace could start to see widespread use of 3D graphics. The initiative could also make development speedier and easier for 3D worlds such as Second Life. This is exactly the kind of next-generation browser technology that Mozilla should be focusing on.