WebGL (Web Graphics Library) is a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D and 2D graphics within any compatible web browser without the use of plug-ins. WebGL does so by introducing an API that closely conforms to OpenGL ES 2.0 that can be used in HTML5 <canvas> elements.

Support for WebGL is present in Firefox 4+, Google Chrome 9+, Opera 12+, Safari 5.1+, Internet Explorer 11+, and Microsoft Edge build 10240+; however, the user's device must also have hardware that supports these features.

The <canvas> element is also used by the Canvas API to do 2D graphics on web pages.

Reference

Standard interfaces

Extensions

Events

Constants and types

WebGL 2

WebGL 2 is a major update to WebGL which is provided through the WebGL2RenderingContext interface. It is based on OpenGL ES 3.0 and new features include:

See also the blog post "WebGL 2 lands in Firefox" and webglsamples.org/WebGL2Samples for a few demos.

Guides and tutorials

Below, you'll find an assortment of guides to help you learn WebGL concepts and tutorials that offer step-by-step lessons and examples.

Guides

Data in WebGL
A guide to variables, buffers, and other types of data used when writing WebGL code.
WebGL best practices
Tips and suggestions to help you improve the quality, performance, and reliability of your WebGL content.
Using extensions
A guide to using WebGL extensions.

Tutorials

WebGL tutorial
A beginner's guide to WebGL core concepts. A good place to start if you don't have previous WebGL experience.

Examples

A basic 2D WebGL animation example
This example demonstrates the simple animation of a one-color shape. Topics examined are adapting to aspect ratio differences, a function to build shader programs from sets of multiple shaders, and the basics of drawing in WebGL.
WebGL by example
A series of live samples with short explanations that showcase WebGL concepts and capabilities. The examples are sorted according to topic and level of difficulty, covering the WebGL rendering context, shader programming, textures, geometry, user interaction, and more.

Advanced tutorials

WebGL model view projection
A detailed explanation of the three core matrices that are typically used to represent a 3D object view: the model, view and projection matrices.
Matrix math for the web
A useful guide to how 3D transform matrices work, and can be used on the web — both for WebGL calculations and in CSS3 transforms.

Resources

  • Raw WebGL: An introduction to WebGL A talk by Nick Desaulniers that introduces the basics of WebGL. This is a great place to start if you've never done low-level graphics programming.
  • Khronos WebGL site The main web site for WebGL at the Khronos Group.
  • Learning WebGL A site with tutorials on how to use WebGL.
  • WebGL Fundamentals A basic tutorial with fundamentals of WebGL.
  • WebGL playground An online tool for creating and sharing WebGL projects. Good for quick prototyping and experimenting.
  • WebGL Academy An HTML/JavaScript editor with tutorials to learn basics of webgl programming.
  • WebGL Stats A site with statistics about WebGL capabilities in browsers on different platforms.

Libraries

  • glMatrix is a JavaScript matrix and vector library for high-performance WebGL apps.
  • PhiloGL is a WebGL framework for data visualization, creative coding, and game development.
  • Pixi.js is a fast, open-source 2D WebGL renderer.
  • PlayCanvas is an open-source game engine.
  • Sylvester is an open-source library for manipulating vectors and matrices. Not optimized for WebGL but extremely robust.
  • three.js is an open-source, fully featured 3D WebGL library.

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
WebGL 1.0 Recommendation Initial definition. Based on OpenGL ES 2.0
WebGL 2.0 Editor's Draft Builds on top of WebGL 1. Based on OpenGL ES 3.0.
OpenGL ES 2.0 Standard  
OpenGL ES 3.0 Standard  

Browser compatibility

WebGL 1

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
Basic supportChrome Full support 9Edge Full support 12
Notes
Full support 12
Notes
Notes To access the WebGL context, use experimental-webgl rather than the standard webgl identifier.
Firefox Full support 4IE Full support 11
Notes
Full support 11
Notes
Notes To access the WebGL context, use experimental-webgl rather than the standard webgl identifier.
Opera Full support 12Safari Full support 5.1WebView Android Full support YesChrome Android Full support 25Edge Mobile Full support Yes
Notes
Full support Yes
Notes
Notes To access the WebGL context, use experimental-webgl rather than the standard webgl identifier.
Firefox Android Full support YesOpera Android Full support 12Safari iOS Full support 8.1Samsung Internet Android Full support Yes

Legend

Full support  
Full support
See implementation notes.
See implementation notes.

WebGL 2

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
Basic supportChrome Full support 56Edge No support NoFirefox Full support 51IE No support NoOpera Full support 43Safari No support NoWebView Android Full support 58Chrome Android Full support 58Edge Mobile No support NoFirefox Android Full support 51Opera Android Full support 43Safari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android Full support 7.0

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support

Compatibility notes

In addition to the browser, the GPU itself also needs to support the feature. So, for example, S3 Texture Compression (S3TC) is only available on Tegra-based tablets. Most browsers make the WebGL context available through the webgl context name, but older ones need experimental-webgl as well. In addition, the upcoming WebGL 2 is fully backwards-compatible and will have the context name webgl2.

Gecko notes

WebGL debugging and testing

Starting with Gecko 10.0 (Firefox 10.0 / Thunderbird 10.0 / SeaMonkey 2.7), there are two preferences available which let you control the capabilities of WebGL for testing purposes:

webgl.min_capability_mode
A Boolean property that, when true, enables a minimum capability mode. When in this mode, WebGL is configured to only support the bare minimum feature set and capabilities required by the WebGL specification. This lets you ensure that your WebGL code will work on any device or browser, regardless of their capabilities. This is false by default.
webgl.disable_extensions
A Boolean property that, when true, disables all WebGL extensions. This is false by default.

See also