Web GL, Becoming a Programmer & Multimedia

I’ve thought a lot about the state of the web and 3D lately. This is odd as I haven’t done much research into WebGL other than checking out a few of the examples that are sent my way by friends and or co-workers in the web industry.

As a web programmer by day and a 3D artist in my spare time (or what little is left of it) I’ve actually switched roles and viewpoints since I was a 3D only guy.

Back in my 3D days I was what I now call an “end user”.

I bitched and moaned about how programmers only made shitty code and it was their fault that Cinema 4D or Photoshop or whatever crashed while I was trying to work at my 3D job where I spent most of my time rendering architectural projects, or figuring out how to animate something so it looked more convincing. Now I’m one of those programmers; although I only know how to program web based technologies, it’s nice to see how the tables have turned. I now know that it probably wasn’t the programmers fault when my programs crashed, but it was more likely a graphics driver or failing hard drive causing my corrupt files and blue-screens-of-death. I was also using Windows 2000 and Windows XP was a new thing that most folks hadn’t moved to yet. My point is that things have changed and so have I.

Last week, I jumped head first into Raphaël JS, a cross browser solution to create vectors on the web. Think Adobe Illustrator version 8, but done in JavaScript, in a browser. It’s really exciting stuff! I actually used some of it in the upcoming release of SlideDeck 2, so us using this in a shipping product, in a production environment is a big deal. It means that it’s “ready”. We can finally create vectors on the web. Bear in mind that Rapahaël JS is not new, but it bridges a gap that was previously bigger and is stretching our capabilities as web creators.

One of the shortcomings of the web has always been rich media. It was near impossible to do video, scalable vector graphics or even 3D on the web without some crutch like QuickTme, Flash, or Java. This is also changing quite rapidly. Technologies like WebGL and HTML5 are turning JavaScript into a super language. A bridge between the user, the viewport that is the browser and the back end technologies like SVG, 3D, and of course, Video.

If you’ve ever done anything with WebGL and are able to point me in the right direction so I can educate myself some more, I’d love to hear about it. If not, then I hope you’ve enjoyed my rant 🙂

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