[X3D-Public] O3D - Google's 3D JavaScript API

Ben Francis mail at tola.me.uk
Wed Apr 22 00:44:14 PDT 2009

Dear all,
I've been dying to talk about this since last summer when I joined the
trusted testers programme, but the public release has finally arrived.
Google has released<http://o3d.blogspot.com/2009/04/toward-open-web-standard-for-3d.html>an
Open Source JavaScript API for creating interactive 3D graphics in the
browser called O3D <http://code.google.com/apis/o3d/>. It is currently a
browser plugin for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome that works
on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux - but Google ultimately would like to see
native support in browsers.

Although Google have been working on this project for two years, they're
billing this as an early release as "part of a conversation with the broader
developer community about establishing an open web standard for 3D
graphics". With reference to Khronos' Initiative to Create Open Royalty Free
Standard for Accelerated 3D on the
, Matt Papakipos (Engineering Director at Google) has previously said "with
more and more content moving to the web and JavaScript getting faster every
day, the time is right to create an open, general purpose API for
accelerated 3D graphics on the web. Google looks forward to offering its
expertise in graphics and web development to this discussion".

A CNET article on O3D
<http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10224078-2.html>also quotes
'Google believes that it's possible that multiple 3D interfaces will be
supported in browsers of the future. "Ultimately, there's going to be at
least two," Papakipos said, pointing out that 2D graphics in the browser has
two technologies at present, SVG and Canvas'. Having personally discussed
X3D with Matt Papakipos, I have high hopes that he may be referring to X3D
here, or perhaps a derivative of X3D. When I discussed X3D with members of
the O3D team (known internally by a different name) last summer, they said
they didn't know a great deal about X3D at the time, but they seemed to have
some reservations about parts of the standard - apparently enough to warrant
taking their own approach to the problem.

I would encourage Web3D Consortium members to engage in this discussion. As
Google has recently become a browser vendor and a member of the Khronos
group, I would also be interested to hear the consortium's views on Google's
recent release. Their new API is yet another example of an imperative
approach in contrast with X3D's declarative approach, as mentioned in
previous posts.

Please note that I am not currently an employee of Google, I was only an
intern there last summer, any opinions expressed are my own.



Ben Francis
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