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[Public WebGL] gl_FragDepth and the focus of WebGL


recently I wanted to try out WebGL for impostor-based visualization techniques. My initial enthusiasm subsided quickly when I found out that gl_FragDepth does not exist in WebGL.

I was confused. gl_FragDepth is not exactly new. So why isn't it supported? Because OpenGL ES 2.0 does not have it. And the reason for that is apparently an optimization issue with mobile hardware.

Now, I get it that mobiles do not support it. But WebGL?
Why is WebGL so tightly coupled to GLES? It makes no sense! It should be a superset instead, a OpenGL ES + some extras from the main OpenGL. Placing limits from the mobile world on an API that can and will be used a lot on desktops feels weird. On mobiles, gl_FragDepth is not included because very few hardware chipsets exist that support it. On the desktop, it is not included becuase of ... mobiles?

WebGL is very appealing to me because it allows one to make visualization applications instantly accessible on a wide range of installations. Even if I design my WebGL application to be usable only on desktop machines, it runs right in the browser, the one piece of software everybody has. No setup necessary. The downside is that this API is artifically crippled, which is a real pity.

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