Thursday, September 19, 2013

At last! Chrome D3D11 day has come!

As of revision 223716, Chrome Canary will have the ability to use Direct3D 11 (via ANGLE) as the rendering backend! Woot woot! The new backend can be enabled using the "Enable D3D11" flag in about:flags. To tell which backend you are using visit about:gpu and look for the GL_RENDERER string.

That's cool, but should have no impact whatsoever on your day to day Chrome use (and if it does, we want to hear about it!) So why do I bring it up? Because along with the shiny new backend comes a much awaited WebGL feature: Multiple render targets! This extension has been available to Mac and Linux devs for a little while now (it's still behind the Draft Extensions flag), but had some spec issues that prevented it from being implemented in the ANGLE D3D9 backend. Now with the new D3D11-based backend the extension should be available to a much wider range of developers.

(Want to know if you have it? Look for "WEBGL_draw_buffers" in the supported extensions list on

So go, brave WebGL developers, and defer all your renderings for great justice!

[UPDATE: I initially said that the D3D11 backend may be enabled by default on some systems. Unfortunately that's not the case just yet, and I apologize for the error.]

Monday, September 16, 2013

What's coming in WebGL 2.0

The WebGL working group has just released a public draft of the WebGL 2.0 spec. Hooray! Of course, being a public draft things are still subject to change and there are still plenty of TODOs, so don't be too surprised if things get chopped, tweaked, added or completely reworked before WebGL 2.0 reaches a browser near you.

The nice thing is, however, that since the entire goal of the spec is to bring OpenGL ES 3.0 capabilities to the browser the chances of things deviating too much from that spec are pretty minimal, and it's probably safe to assume that most ES 3.0 features will make their way into your browser soon. (With a few notable exceptions that I'll discuss in a bit.)

So what is new in 2.0? I realize that reading specs is rarely fun, so allow me to summarize for you. While this won't be a complete rundown of the upcoming features it should provide a good sense of where things are headed.