glTF Ecosystem Takeoff!

The glTF Working Group 15th March 2016

Khronos is holding a meetup at 12 noon to 1PM on Wednesday March 16th during GDC in San Francisco to update the industry on WebGL 2.0 and glTF 1.0 – and you are invited!

If you are a Web developer, you may know and love WebGL, the Khronos standard that defines a JavaScript binding to the OpenGL ES API.  WebGL enables browsers to display and generate dynamic 3D games and apps.  But generating 3D graphics calls are just half the 3D Web solution - have you ever considered how a WebGL application receives 3D models and animations across the network to drive a 3D experience?

Up to now, 3D has been unique in not having a widely established format that browsers and apps have agreed to use to send assets efficiently across the Web: photos have JPEGs, music has MP3s, and movies have MP4 – well now 3D has glTF!

glTF Logo

glTF – it stands for OpenGL transmission format - is a Khronos-created, royalty-free specification for the efficient transmission and loading of 3D scenes and models by 3D applications. glTF has been carefully designed to minimize both the size of 3D assets, and the runtime processing needed by applications to unpack and use those assets – especially important in mobile applications. glTF defines a common publishing format for 3D content tools and services that streamlines authoring workflows and enables interoperable use of content across the industry.

Although the glTF 1.0 specification was released just a few months ago, in October 2015, it is already gaining friends and allies across the industry.  Any successful format standard needs a thriving ecosystem so that files can be effectively generated by tools, validated for correctness and easily imported by engines and applications – and glTF is making amazing progress on all fronts!

The glTF Ecosystem
The glTF Ecosystem

Creating glTF
We are thrilled that Blender will soon directly export glTF files. While other tools finalize their glTF exporters, there are multiple convertors available to bring your assets to glTF from a wide variety of formats, e.g.:  Autodesk has created an open source FBX to glTF converter, and there are open source translators to convert from OBJ and COLLADA.

Being a standards organization, Khronos understands that any cross-platform content formats lives or dies on the ability of tools to reliability produce correctly formed asset files.  To help glTF exporters check themselves for correctness, Khronos is funding the creation of a glTF Validator, and has issued a Request for Quotations – if you are interested to work on this project please bid before March 31st - see more information here.

Using glTF
glTF is designed that so that if you are creating your own WebGL application it is almost trivial to unpack and use glTF assets however you wish.  But of course a lot of WebGL content uses WebGL engines - and the good news that all the major WebGL engines now import glTF directly including ThreeJS, Microsoft Babylon.js, Cesium, Pex and xeoEngine!

Babylon.js directly importing glTF
Babylon.js directly importing glTF

How Can I Get Involved?
Most importantly, check out glTF and see if it can save you time and money!  We found that almost everyone creating WebGL pipeline was being forced to recreate something like glTF - it’s good to not have to recreate the wheel - so you are welcome! J

Finally, Khronos has placed its glTF tools and resources in open source on GitHub for all to use, and we warmly welcome the community’s involvement in evolving the standard for the good of the industry.  We keep track of glTF ecosystem activities on GitHub, if you are working with glTF – please help us keep the Ecosystem page up to date and let us know how glTF is making a difference!

March 15th, 2016
Tags: glTF