Firefox4 and WebGL
So finally, Firefox4 is released today and this is major news for us cartogeeks. First of all its faster than previous versions but for me, I am particularly interested in the fact that this one supports WebGL. The OpenGL hardware accelleration built into the web browser. This is going to be cool for a plethora of interesting sites which need to display graphics - especially large graphics like maps.
By using hardware accelleration you can take advantage of the processing power of your gaming graphics card and that means that you should be able to get smooth pan and zoom in various applications. The one I expect will be made quite quickly from now is the browser based virtual table top.
WebGL has been about in Chrome and some other browsers but since Firefox is still the only one with good script management capabilities its got to be this one for me.
If you have it then I found that by default it did not run properly. I am assured from various posts on the web that if I get a new graphics card driver then it will work natively but otherwise you can type "about:config" into the URL address bar at the top and head down the WebGL section and select the force enable and toggle to true. Restart the browser and it was all go for me.
I tried the Quake demo but whilst it loaded, it didnt run properly. However, Googles Body browser worked fine.
So its been quite a wait but this should be good.
Well it didn't take someone long before they started using this for terrain or mapping... Monks has just pointed this link out to me which renders terrain on the GPU through the browser. Before you get excited, you should know that at the mo it only works on Linux Chrome browser with a very capable GPU. As such my good GPU is on windows and my linux box runs it but its all black. So I am stuck - like most of you I would think - with looking at the videos. But its just a matter of time. So ill keep this link here for when we have better support from windows and browsers. In the mean time you can look at his methods and source code for doing this.
I found this interesting google map of number of google searches in a location mapped to a globe in webgl.