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Re: [Public WebGL] Few questions/comments about context creation attributes

On Sun, May 23, 2010 at 02:25, Vladimir Vukicevic <vladimir@mozilla.com> wrote:
> We actually considered this a while ago, and it seemed that the best thing
> to do for WebGL 1.0 was to leave this up to the WebGL implementation

Sure enough.

> same for alpha/depth/stencil; you can request those, but you have no way to
> request a specific size.  (...) In the future we could extend the WebGL context attributes object to allow
> specifying these things in more detail.  (It wouldn't break compat -- we'd
> have to add something like minDepth and maxDepth anyway, so it would be just
> additions.)

Context creation is traditionally not about requesting a specific size
(or range) but minimal sizes that must be met or exceeded (ie. the
driver/hardware can actually do as fast or faster with a better
Adding minX maxX for every attribute (depth, alpha, stencil, and then
at a later point in WebGL's life red, green and blue for consistency)
sounds overkill : more paths to implement, more to specify (including
'silly' stuff like behavior when both minDepth: and depth: are
specified"), and does not seem to bring any obvious benefit compared
to having integers that work like their siblings in EGL/GLX/...

For instance, following code would work with all implementations while
automatically benefiting from better support in any of them later on
without a new revision of the spec required :

var gl = getContext("webgl", {depth: 24}); // request a context with
at least 24-bit depth buffer, less z-fighting yay
if (!gl) gl = getContext("webgl"); // couldn't get a context with
higher precision zbuffer (WebGL implementation or driver do not
support it), just use default then

If this kind of forward-compatibility is feared, spec 1.0 could state
that the only valid values are 0 or 16, giving the same behavior as
the boolean while following standard EGL/GLX/... practice and removing
the need to add members later at the same time.

On a different but related note, shouldn't WebGL be more conservative
with context creation by default ? What was the rationale for
providing a depth and stencil buffer by default ? Convenience ?
While I can understand for depth, I'm not sure to understand why every
WebGL context should be created with a stencil buffer by default. The
feature being not that commonly used (is there even one WebGL demo
enabling STENCIL_TEST currently?), most WebGL contexts - created with
default attributes - will pay for a feature they do not use,
potentially impacting performance a bit but at least for sure reducing
the amount of video memory available for textures and buffers.
For both depth and stencil, while any developer who needs these
feature will enable them at context creation (one already has to
enable DEPTH_TEST and/or STENCIL_TEST anyways!), it is likely that
very few developers will think/remember disabling them when they don't
need one or both, making WebGL content in general use more memory and
less efficient than it could be.


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