glTF™ 2.0 is an open standard for efficient and reliable encapsulation and transmission of 3D assets and scenes, including PBR materials and animations. glTF continues to gain strong industry momentum with new support from major players including Facebook, Adobe, Epic, and Unity, in addition to the ongoing support from the grassroots open-source community.
glTF - Cross-Platform 3D Asset Transmission
Facebook’s recent adoption of glTF 2.0 enables its users to place and see 3D content in their News Feeds, underscoring the social media platform’s plan to enable users to bring 3D objects and assets with them across AR, VR, mobile, and web experiences — using open standards. Facebook’s prominent support for glTF is already stimulating the creation of innovative tools to generate glTF content, such as Sony 3D Creator, Oculus Medium, and Foundry Modo.
With Facebook’s milestone announcement, 3D joins images and videos as an easily shareable media type. Users can simply drag and drop 3D objects into their News Feed and select a color and texture for the background. The 3D models are responsive to scroll and touch, so users can move and view them from any angle, and even bring them into specific Facebook spaces such as social VR hangout rooms. Supporting an open standard means that Facebook can easily enable third-party developers to be a part of the 3D-wave; brands like LEGO, Jurassic World, Clash of Clans, and Wayfair are already building glTF 3D objects for users to interact with. We can look forward to the near future where users will be able to digitally capture and sculpt a 3D object, share it on Facebook, play with it in VR, and even insert it into user’s worlds with AR.
If you are interested to try this out on your own Facebook News Feed, you can drag and drop a glTF Binary (GLB) file onto the Facebook Post composer, use the Facebook Graph API to make 3D posts, and also include Open Graph meta tags in your website to have your GLB picked when someone shares a link to your webpage. Mr.doob has made a video tutorial on how to use the Three.js library to create a GLB file. Khronos™ has made our first 3D uploads to The Khronos Facebook News Feed, and high profile websites such as New York Times have already started to post 3D models — check it out!
glTF 2.0 has already won support from other big players like Google and Microsoft. Earlier this year, Google released an extension to use Draco geometry compression to make glTF files significantly more compact, and Microsoft uses glTF 2.0 to bring 3D capabilities to Paint 3D and Microsoft Office. Unity has joined the Khronos effort to develop the open source glTF importer/exporter for its engine and plans to have official glTF support before the end of year. Another leading game engine, Unreal Engine from Epic, is already experimenting with glTF import in version 4.19. Additionally, at GDC 2018, Adobe announced that it’s adopting glTF as the output format for its Dimension publishing service for interactive marketing material.
As glTF 2.0 is increasingly adopted, Khronos is carefully balancing having sufficient testing tools so that glTF continues to be consistently generated and reliably imported by all tools across the industry, while also managing the specifications evolution. glTF 2.0 has a robust set of samples and tools available, including a growing number of glTF-Sample-Models, the gltf-vscode tool for multi-engine viewer and validation, and the glTF-Asset-Generator by Microsoft to easily test handling of the complete specification, including corner cases, and more. In terms of specification developments, the Draco geometry compression extension filled a key need, with efficient compressed texture transmission being poised as the next advancement.
Tools like Blender exporter, Maya2glTF,3DS Max exporter, as well as FBX2glTF and Collada2glTF, have played significant roles in helping mature the exporter ecosystem, and to enable a wide variety of choices to generate glTF models. Large repositories of glTF models are becoming available, such as Sketchfab, Google Poly, and Microsoft Remix 3D. Sketchfab for example has 150,000 glTF 2.0 models freely available under a Creative Commons license.
Consistent glTF Rendering on Multiple Engines
With increasing support from major industry players, the adoption of glTF is only going to continue to pick up speed. If you are a developer of tools, engines, or applications and need fast and predictable 3D asset import and export, adopt glTF in your runtime and content pipeline - glTF is entirely free to use. There are many existing open source importers and exporters to draw from, and the use of the glTF Validator and the glTF Unit Test Models are great resources to ensure your pipeline is handling glTF correctly.
Much of the discussion and development around glTF ecosystem happens on the open glTF GitHub Site, where the community is encouraged to report issues with tools or engines, provide input to the specification’s roadmap, and share open source tools, tutorials and sample models - all are welcome! You can even join Khronos if you want to be directly involved in the glTF working group.