[Public WebGL] gl_FragDepth and the focus of WebGL

dv [email protected]
Mon Apr 2 14:27:12 PDT 2012


Hello,

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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