Google has launched a new open-source project for its Chrome browser that will enhance 3D graphics rendering capabilities without the need for users to download additional drivers. Dubbed ANGLE (Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine), the project aims to allow Windows users to run WebGL content without having the traditionally necessary OpenGL drivers installed.
WebGL is a cross platform API (application programming interface) utilizing hardware accelerated 3D graphics for writing web applications, and at present many Windows computers are unable to render WebGL content due to OpenGL drivers not being installed. This hasn’t been an issue for computers running OS X or Linux, as OpenGL is the primary 3D API, however on Windows the most commonly used application is Microsoft’s Direct3D API which is also the base for the graphics API for the Xbox 360.
According to project manager Henry Bridge this means that “even if they have powerful graphics hardware many Windows machines can’t render WebGL content because they don’t have the necessary OpenGL drivers installed… ANGLE should make it simpler to prototype these applications on Windows and also gives developers new options for deploying production versions of their code to the desktop.”
This includes helping developers working on applications for mobile and embedded devices and increases the viability of hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in web pages.
The project is released under the BSD open-source license, potentially promoting incorporation by others with proprietary software. While Microsoft has been reserved in its support, the likes of Firefox, Safari and Opera have begun to implement the fledgling WebGL technology.
The ANGLE project can be found on the Google code website.