1. Technology

WebGL Up and Running

by Tony Parisi

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


WebGL Up and Running by Tony Parisi

WebGL Up and Running by Tony Parisi

Book cover image courtesy PriceGrabber

Bottom Line

This is not a book for beginners, or even web developers who are not confident in their skills at JavaScript. But if you're comfortable with that, then you'll like this book. It may seem short at first, but it covers all it needs to in concise, well-written English with lots of code samples and online examples.


  • You will create several 3D applications if you read this entire book
  • Lots of good scripts and examples for getting going with WebGL
  • Good online examples you can browse to (or click through to in the ebook)


  • No color images (although I'm told the ebook has some color—depending upon your device)
  • Not a lot about mobile support


  • Publisher: O’Reilly
  • Price: $34.99
  • Length: 211 pages
  • Released: August 2012
  • Chapter 1 introduces you to WebGL. You'll learn about the 3D coordinate system and start understanding the WebGL specificiation.
  • Chapter 2 helps you build your first 3D application.
  • Chapter 3 introduces you to adding graphics to your 3D products. You'll learn textures, shading, and how to transform the meshes you create.
  • Chapter 4 gets you started animating the 3D objects you've been creating.
  • Chapter 5 describes how to interact with the application with hit detection, clicking and dragging, and even interaction based on how the objects are viewed via the camera.
  • Chapter 6 is where you start really combining your WebGL creations in your web pages. This chapter covers how to integrate 2D and 3D together in the application.
  • Chapter 7 looks at some of the practical considerations for implementing WebGL in a production environment. You will learn about various engines and tools for getting your application live, file formats, delivery systems, and methods of working with WebGL.
  • Chapter 8 pulls all that you've learned in the previous chapters together into a finished game. You will build a racing game with a car driving along Route 66 in California.

Jennifer Kyrnin’s Review of WebGL Up and Running

My biggest complaint with this book was that it was very dense. While the copy is easy to read, and it is well-written and clear, this is not for a faint-hearted beginner. I think that even developers who have an intermediate level understanding of JavaScript and online development may be a little daunted as this book does not simplify the topic at all.

But on the other hand, if you're not daunted by dense code, the fact that it doesn't simplify is a good thing. When O'Reilly says that they'll get you “up and running” they are not kidding. The point of this book (like others in the “Up and Running” series) is to get you all the information you need to get started using WebGL right now.

I found that even with the denseness I was feeling very comfortable with WebGL and 3D by the time I got to chapter 6. The only thing I really missed was dealing with mobile. For example, there was nothing about touch events anywhere in the book. Yes, this might be a little farther than we need to go as as of iOS 5, WebGL was only available in iAds, not in general apps. But it is coming, and probably much sooner than most of us will be ready for. And if you don't understand by now that touch events are different from click or mouse events, then you aren't ready for mobile at all and this book will be plenty for you to digest.

I love that you get to create 3D apps almost immediately in this book and I love the scripts and examples that Parisi provides, along with pictures to try and visualize (in 2D) what you're building. Of course, it would have been nicer if the book were in color. I am told that the ebook had some or possibly all pictures in color, but I am reviewing the paperback copy which is black and white. Images like the texture animation in Chapter 4 look like a grey blob in the book, and it's only when I visit the included URL (for a Flickr image) that I see what he's trying to show.

If you're looking for a book to learn 3D graphics and animation using WebGL, you won't go wrong with this book. Don't assume by it's length that the book isn't useful. It's very concicse, and gets you up and running faster than you might think is possible.

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