The most useful WebGL frameworks to use for interactive websites

Written by Bogdan Sandu on 25 Aug 2020
16,000 Views • Web Development

Today, JavaScript is one of the most useful programming languages for creating web pages. It is sturdy, especially with the support from WebGL libraries. With this, you can conveniently use HTML5 Canvas elements to generate graphics dynamically. Because of this, it is easy for web designers and developers to create fluid 2D and 3D effects. 

 WebGL is JavaScript API or a library based on OpenGL that enables web browsers to do three dimensional and 2-dimensional graphics in the browser without the necessity to place additional plug-ins, desktop apps, or merely any third-party plug-ins or browser additions. WebGL renders to the computer's Graphics Processing Unit to present complex concepts, animations, and science simulations all super-fast.

For the 90s kids reading this article, WebGL is that technology that makes it possible to play your childhood games in a browser. Yep, WebGL games in a browser. And not just those simple 90s games, but also more advanced ones from a decade later. WebGL is that powerful. 

There are tons of JavaScript sources out there that can be used for producing interactive websites. Choosing the best structure for an interactive website can be a genuine difficulty at times since there are tons of JavaScript resources. This choice is crucial because it can enhance or wreck your design.

Here are the best WebGL frameworks to use for your next website:

X3DOM 

X3DOM is the most popular WebGL framework. It is used for generating embeddable 3D Web-ready graphics. All meant for websites and apps. It works by presenting an understandable 3D scene explanation. Not only that, but runtime performance declaratively, without any low-level JavaScript or GLSL coding.

Three.js

You might need a lot of dedicated time if you want to learn this from scratch. However, it is worth learning it, as it is one of the most excellent 3D libraries on the market. Here you have hundreds of examples including numerous demos.

It also has a store of different tutorials and overall, a grand, assertive community. You use Three.js as a center for many WebGL graphics generators, and numerous browser games. It features a sturdy, easy to use online editor.

Grimoire.js – A WebGL Framework 

If you want an open-source WebGL framework, then Grimoire.js is perfect for you. It is excellent for 3D web apps and aims to create a connection between web engineers and CG engineers.

Babylon.js

This JavaScript framework is excellent for building 3D games. It is a robust framework. However, it doesn't have the same reach as Three.js. Once you open it, you can find plenty of reviews and tutorials on how to start from scratch.

PhiloGL 

PhiloGL is also a WebGL Javascript framework. This one is great for building complex 3D graphics apps. These apps can be for different data visualization, creative coding, and game development. What's best about this one is that it can be used with other libraries. It's an open-source project released under the MIT license by SenchaLabs. 

Turbulenz

Turbulenz is a framework that comes with a lot of features. They range from 2D and 3D physics to sounds and even videos. There are other services, as well. Leaderboards, multi chats, and even user data are just a fragment of all the services available. 

Filament: Mobile framework by Google

Filament is a mobile-friendly open-source WebGL. It is a 3D render built exclusively for the Web. Unlike the previous ones, it uses C++. 

That is why it is a mobile-first 3D platform. Produced and published by Google, it targets several platforms. From Android to Mac OSX and Windows, it comes with mobile-focused intentions. It is not very popular as it is relatively new. However, it is believed that it is going to grasp the eye of many game developers.

A-frame

A-Frame blends both three.js and WebGL in HTML custom elements. It lets you design VR occurrences that operate over desktop, iOS, Android, and the Oculus Rift. It's relatively simple to utilize as it also has a smooth training curve for experts and amateurs.

A-Frame runs sleekly in several VR programs like Vive, Rift. It also runs on a desktop with modern browsers like Mozilla Firefox, & Google Chrome, & mobile phones with continuous performance.

PlayCanvas.js

If you're looking for an open-source framework that provides tons of tools for building 3D games, PlayCanvas.js is just for you. You can use this game engine to create games in no time. It is designed professionally yet free of use.

Not only that, but it also comes with a cloud-based editor. It is excellent because it runs smoothly in your browser. Another great feature of this is multiple collaborations. A group of people can simultaneously work on the same projects without a problem.

KickJS: Open source Graphics & Game Engine for the Web

KickJS is another open-source WebGL game engine. It is excellent and suitable for modern web browsers. It has a graphic library meant just for that.

It is remarkable because it has transparent yet prosperous documentation. It also has a library of tutorials and even game examples. It supports mouse, gamepad, and keyboard controllers. That is not all. KickJS provides several tools for developers, including: 

  • Shader Editor,
  • Model tool,
  • Extension viewer, and some game examples with clear code.

Enchant.js

Enchant.js is a modular, object-oriented JavaScript framework. It is best used for creating secure apps and games in HTML5. It is accessible as open-source under MIT permission. Therefore free to use.

You can design 3D animations and games by applying extra plug-ins that give WebGL powers to this framework. Enchant.js is growing to be dominant with novel characteristics and plug-ins and is actively supported and improved by the Akihabara Research Center at UEI.

Scene.js

This is one more framework that runs on WebGL. Scene.js is an enormous library that allows you to 3D render any object. Suitable for modern browsers, it is one of the best on the whole market. Luckily, it is not only for basic rendering. Think of it as a visualization library. It can design several perspectives of an object and create sophisticated game graphics. This is what makes it the most magnificent competition, among other frameworks. 

WebGLStudio.js - An Open source Web 3D Graphic editor

Litescene.js is a simplistic yet compelling WebGL library. Litescene.js contains a clean JSON code that is easily embedded in web projects which you can use in WebGLStudio.js editor.

This editor is an open-source advanced 3D WebGL web-based editor. With WebGLStudio, you can export the JSON file and use it in your LiteScene. 

Litescene.js uses its own mini-library "Litegl.js". It is user-friendly. It organizes courses for handling various things like Buffer, Mesh, Texture, Shader, and other standard features of any WebGL applications.

CurtainsJS

If you are looking for an open-source WebGL library that aims to provide a WebGL-based animation for web pages – CurtainsJS offers just that. It is not a graphics engine nor a gaming engine rather than a 3D animation & events based graphics library. It converts HTML based elements into 3D animated objects using WebGL-rendering library.

D3.js 

A lot of the time, you will find many charts, maybe even graphs that rely entirely on 3D effects. Perhaps you are struggling with creating one, or perhaps you just want to improve your design, then this framework can help you. D3.js is a massive library of such animations. You can use it to render your data in 3D. You can use it for free and with no previous knowledge. 

Still, if you are on WordPress and you want an easier way to create charts, I advise using some WordPress charts plugins. The same thing is valid for the mapping feature from D3. The alternative would be to use WordPress Google Maps plugins. There are lots of options that can deliver beautiful maps without much hassle and little to no coding.

If you have the right tools, you can build anything. This is especially true for Web and browsers. Whether you are developing games or interactive websites, this can help you reach your goal. 

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