What is WebGL API?

Mon Feb 07 2022

2 min read

You often introduce 2D or 3D graphics to improve the user experience of your websites. Using libraries like three.js and D3.js, you can create amazing 3D effects, but rendering these effects on the browser is a separate story.

A web API called WebGL lets you render 2D and 3D graphics on the screen. Let’s take a look at it.

Web Graphic Library (WebGL) API

Based on OpenGL library, WebGL uses the user’s GPU to render interactive 2D and 3D graphics in the browser. It is a JavaScript API and is supported across all major web browsers. WebGL is also integrated with other web APIs; thus, it can run hardware-accelerated graphics with the user’s GPU directly inside the HTML canvas without needing external plugins.

The Unity Engine uses WebGL API to make web-based games. The terrain view of Google Maps uses WebGL to render.

Use cases

There are multiple areas where you can utilize this API. Here are some of the everyday use cases:

  • You can implement 3D web designs.
  • WebGL is also used to build Interactive browser games.
  • Data visualization is often needed to understand data trends. WebGL also helps you with this.
  • You can also create physics simulations using WebGL.

Benefits of WebGL

  • This API is supported by web browsers and mobile browsers like Safari, Android browsers, and Chrome for Android.
  • It is open-source and constantly maintained by the community. You can look up its source code and even contribute to it.
  • WebGL applications are written in JavaScript and thus, do not need to be compiled. You can directly see the result by opening the file in the browser.
  • With WebGL, you do not need to manage memory manually.
  • It is easy to set up because it is integrated with HTML5. You only need a text editor and WebGL-supported browser, and you can start working with it.