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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OpenGL for the browser, 17 July 2012
This review is from: WebGL Beginner's Guide (Paperback)
You may have already programmed on OpenGL, which is a vast and long standing free graphics package and language. But this book takes an important tangent. It refers to how from the OpenGL ES 2.0 (Embedded Systems) specification, a derivative was spawned, that emphasised web based and real time rendering, via the use of browsers. Perhaps it was inevitable, as OpenGL is meant for standalone applications running on a machine. This left a potentially vast operating space for a variant dedicated to the browser.

To this ends, the first chapter is instructive. It describes useful features of WebGL. Like the use of javascript to write WebGL. This goes after the extensive mindshare of web developers, especially for coding the actual web pages, since the developers are likely or effectively required to know javascript. Another advantage is how devices like smartphones and tables often come with pre-installed browsers that use javascript.

The usual question does arise, of performance of a script versus that of a compiled program. The book suggests that recent browsers give roughly equivalent performance with WebGL compared to standalone applications. But the book also acknowledges that for some shader code, you do indeed need compiling to truly maximise performance.

The text also shows how to use WebGL in conjunction with Ajax and to decode and encode JSON objects. Plus, tips are given for coding under Microsoft Windows.

The actual graphics portions of the book are straightforward. Though I would not really recommend using it for a first time learning of this material. I suspect that implicitly you are assumed to already have coded graphics and thus be generally familiar with basic concepts like normals, specular reflection, and material optical properties. Along with common shader methods like Phong and Goraud.

Some of the book's diagrams might have been better appreciated by the reader if they were in colour. But this publisher's books are commonly in black and white to reduce printing costs.

If you can, consider getting this book in conjunction with another on OpenGL, like OpenGL Programming Guide: The Official Guide to Learning OpenGL, Versions 4.1 (8th Edition) or Computer Graphics Through OpenGL: From Theory to Experiments (Chapman & Hall/CRC Computer Graphics, Geometric Modeling, and Animation Series) or OpenGL 4.0 Shading Language Cookbook. Those can offer extra guidance on issues of the pure graphical concepts, if you need this support.
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