Opera releases WebGL & Hardware accelerated browser preview

More than 3 years on, Opera have released a public preview build of their browser, with a standards-based 3D canvas implementation using WebGL for Windows. In 2007 they had released a preview build showing an implementation of a 3D canvas context.

Opera have been working on a WebGL implementation since early 2009, when the standardization process started. Due to frequent changes in the standard, it had been difficult to commit to a WebGL implementation; but now that it has matured and stabilized, Opera felt it was the right time to release a public implementation of the standard within their browser.

For those who have never heard of WebGL, it is a context to the canvas element which gives you hardware-accelerated 3D rendering in JavaScript. The API is based on OpenGL ES 2.0, which means that it is possible to run WebGL on many different devices, such as desktop computers, mobile phones and TVs. More information can be found here at the Khronos wiki.

The Hardware acceleration in this build is a bit different from what other browsers are doing. Much like IE9 and Firefox 4, do full hardware acceleration of all draw operations - but then, unlike those browsers, who only offer this acceleration on Windows Vista and Windows 7, the implementation will run on any OS with sufficient hardware support. This means full hardware acceleration can be achieved on Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS X and OpenGL ES 2 capable devices such as recent smart-phones and web-enabled TVs.

You can grab the preview build here, and please note that this requires an OpenGL 2.x compatible graphics card and related drivers for hardware acceleration and WebGL to work.

Also, Tim Johansson notes on the Opera Developer blog some limitations; "Neither WebGL nor hardware acceleration will be included in the upcoming release of Opera 11.10 for desktop. Some other aspects, such as SVG rendering, may not work correctly. We will continue working on these new features – fixing on all remaining bugs and optimizing our code – and we will release further preview builds to keep you up to date with our progress."

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

PS3 units to be seized by EU customs in patent dispute

Next Story

Team Meat attack Microsoft's Xbox Support

34 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Beyon_Godlike said,
Seems to have a sluggishness to it on my system
i7 930
6gb triple chan mem
radeon 5870

It might be your system config. I seem to be having little trouble with it on an Athlon II with 4gigs and mobo Nvidia graphics (and not, not Ion).

Arm yourselves with patience ( Opera users ) because you have looooong way ahead. Within 6 months, maybe you'll have some HA. Despite what Opera says, you with very old cards and drivers and OS, be prepared for frustration. Especially when we speak about full HA.

bluefisch200 said,
****ty inefficient OpenGL...just use DirectX 10.1 & 11...

Sure, and just drop support for Mac and Linux.

bluefisch200 said,
Why not?
Because if a browser is trying to gain market share (and most of them are) then limiting themselves to one operating system after supporting 3 operating systems is not the way to progress.

You could, but what would you gain from that as a developer? Lost time implementing something that can only be used on one operating system that already has a feature available that does the same thing (albeit potentially slightly slower).

K.I.S.S. springs to mind. Implementing both isn't keeping it simple, and dropping support for 2 operating systems so that one operating system has a slightly faster browser seems like a step backwards.

Intrinsica said,
Because if a browser is trying to gain market share (and most of them are) then limiting themselves to one operating system after supporting 3 operating systems is not the way to progress.

Oh yeah? How much market-share? 5%?
How ever, Opera had a Qt based UI for years and with Version 10 they have switched to a Cocoa based UI...holy crap...they develop 3 UIs for 3 operating systems now...

bluefisch200 said,
Oh yeah? How much market-share? 5%?

Every single day, Windows market share drops.

It may not be fast but it's inevitable. Better get used to it.

bluefisch200 said,
****ty inefficient OpenGL...just use DirectX 10.1 & 11...

As you can see from the blog posts, Direct3D support is coming for Windows. Be patient!

haha, kinda shows its propreity software that inventive and renewing
why isnt there an OpenSource cross-OS browser that does this among the 3 major OS's?

John. said,
It's a pity the overall UI still looks horrific.

I'm trying to understand where you're coming from with that comment. Opera 11 looks virtually identical to Firefox 4, which itself is trying to emulate Chrome (unsuccessfully, imo); whilst all browsers look better than IE9, which seems to view usability with contempt with its cramped navigation bar, mass of unlabelled icons and simplistic navigation buttons.

I personally prefer Chrome out of the big-four. Still, I don't see how you can objectively call Opera "horrific". And when it comes to standards support Opera is right up there with Chrome, while IE9 and Firefox struggle to catch up.

All down to personal preference I'm afraid. I just don't like it. Chrome has 4 buttons (back, forward, refresh, Wrench), Opera has Back, Forward, Key, Refresh, Home, Speed Dial, and all the panels etc on the bottom. It looks busy and chunky and I really just don't like it. It's too 'blocky' for my liking. Chrome manages to fit everything in that I need and still look clean and fluid.

John. said,
It's a pity the overall UI still looks horrific.

What? It has the best UI under Windows 7. Where did you get this...

Glendi said,

What? It has the best UI under Windows 7. Where did you get this...

I'm not using Windows 7, but I'm sure it's nice. I didn't mean to offend or confuse anyone, it was just a personal comment =/

John. said,
It's a pity the overall UI still looks horrific.

Just because you don't like the UI does not really give you the right to call it horrific. You just find it awkward for your taste. You are more than entitled to your opinion. I think we can all respect that.

My only issue with this is that you are judging your preference on either XP or Vista. These are both dated operating systems from a market stand point, and most developers are going to be looking to Win7 to implement the UI. In the case of Opera, I will attest to the fact that it does look fairly ugly under XPmode.

I am also not sure what to make of Opera under Linux and OSX.

I think what is missing from this is how all the current browsers look really nice on Win7. I would include in this bunch Firefox 4, Chrome, IE9, Opera and to a much lesser degree, Safari. Safari still really looks nothing like a Windows applications, but it is a significant improvement over the past versions on Windows. All in all, I think this is a great time to have a choice in

azure.sapphire said,
Just because you don't like the UI does not really give you the right to call it horrific. You just find it awkward for your taste. You are more than entitled to your opinion. I think we can all respect that.

I think we are all entitled to our own opinions. And yes, if I stepped in someone's car that resembled the interior of a cockpit, I'd probably be horrified too.

Thankfully, I believe you can customize it.

John. said,
All down to personal preference I'm afraid. I just don't like it. Chrome has 4 buttons (back, forward, refresh, Wrench), Opera has Back, Forward, Key, Refresh, Home, Speed Dial, and all the panels etc on the bottom. It looks busy and chunky and I really just don't like it. It's too 'blocky' for my liking. Chrome manages to fit everything in that I need and still look clean and fluid.

You can easily make Opera only have those 4 buttons. Just right click the toolbar and then select Appearance. Under the Toolbars tab untick everything but Address Bar and Tab Bar. Right click any buttons you don't want and select Remove From Toolbar. Then slick the Buttons tab in the Appearance menu and drag any buttons you might want onto the toolbar. It's very simple. And if you really like the Chrome theme, you can grab one from the Skins tab.

The Opera UI is very customizable. You can make it as simple or complex as you like.

WebGL does not give you "hardware-accelerated 3D". It gives you JavaScript APIs based on OpenGL.
The fact they are hardware-accelerated depends on the browser.

Anyway, a "standard" based on its implementation cannot become a W3C standard.

Note that there are no builds for any other OS than Windows currently.

However, I'm a little puzzled as to why Opera is claiming that no other browser offers WebGL acceleration for other operating systems since both Safari and Chrome have acceleration under OSX (albeit experimental / via a boolean option)

Opera says that hardware acceleration will work on any OS. This means that also 'windows xp' will get full hardware acceleration, and I don't think any other browser already does that. I'm guessing something like that could also be valid for other OS (or versions).
(If I'm not mistaken firfox 4 will only have partial hardware acceleration on windows xp).

I don't think they mean that no other browser supports hardware acceleration outside windows. I'm guessing it's more of OS combined with version support thing.

yowan said,
Crashed on first use!

Lot of comments on Opera blog, complaining about freezes and crashes! I think IE9 was a lot more stable in preview stages, to compare.

fehuris said,

Lot of comments on Opera blog, complaining about freezes and crashes! I think IE9 was a lot more stable in preview stages, to compare.

Not even remotely the same thing. This is a build from the Core Labs, they have about NO quality assurance before release.