The last two years have seen a radical change in how 3D technologies are managed by browser. The emergence and consolidation of a standard, the JavaScript API WebGL, makes it possible to develop applications able to direct rendering interactive 3D computer graphics within any web browser.

The practical side of this change is that there is no more need of any kind of plugin or other software to be installed to enjoy 3D content on a browser. This is an important advantage for all those application domains populated by ordinary users (not ICT geeks).

There is no need to underline the importance of 3D graphics in the CH field and it is known that web publishing is one of the fastest and most versatile channels for broad dissemination. The synergy of these two technologies has led to the blossoming of a number of new solutions for publishing and showing 3D artifacts on the web in an easy and practical way.

We cite here the two most interesting emerging platforms for this purpose, SketchFab and 3DHOP.

  • SketchFab is a commercial service based on the freemium businesses model. It allows to easily load simple 3D models on their servers, that can be shown in their full 3D glory, can be easily integrated in any web page and even in the Facebook news feed. Easiness of use and an already wide dissemination and use are key characteristics of this platform. On the other side, the degree of configurability to specific application needs is low.
  • 3DHOP is an open source platform targeted to allow the flexible, yet easy creation of multimedia and interactive Web presentations of high resolution 3D content. It is addressed to a more sophisticated audience (ranging from museum applications designers, to scientific visualization developers, to everyone needs big data highly detailed interactive rendering) who want to embed digital models in their Web pages, but at the same time also might want some degree of customization of the presentation layout. It allows easy integration of various kinds of 3D content directly inside HTML pages, with particular reference to those originating by scanner acquisition (millions points/triangles), thus supporting , thanks to innovative algorithms for the streaming of multiresolution 3D meshes over HTTP, the exploration of very large models on commodity computers and standard internet connections.