Babylon.js: Going beyond the 2D web

Microsoft’s shift to Chromium from Edge makes it easier to add 3D graphics to your Web apps

The web has moved on a long way since we started to wave goodbye to Flash. Much of what we could do in animation plug-ins is now native to the browser, thanks to HTML 5 and its roster of JavaScript graphics APIs. One of the most important is WebGL, giving browsers access to the GPU and delivering interactive 2D and 3D graphics.

Microsoft’s Edge browsers, both the new Chromium-based version and the soon-to-be-deprecated EdgeHTML releases, all support WebGL. It’s a powerful tool for building graphical elements in your pages and applications, but like all powerful tools it’s complex, requiring not only JavaScript knowledge but also OpenGL’s ES Shading Language. ESSL is a C-like language that runs on GPUs, defining the shaders that WebGL’s JavaScript APIs assemble into your content.

Introducing Bablylon.js

Luckily for us, HTML 5 makes the web extensible, using JavaScript libraries to provide more user-friendly ways of working with low-level APIs such as WebGL. One of the more popular WebGL frameworks was initially released in 2013 by a pair of Microsoft engineers who were looking for a way to build 3D games on the web.

In the old Microsoft (or any other big software company) a project like Babylon.js would have been unlikely to get the support it has. It’s not connected to Microsoft’s own development tooling, or to any other of its properties. Instead, it’s only a tool that makes life easier for developers working with the modern web.

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