Learn WebGL by Building a 3D Molecule Viewer

March 16, 2011

Are you curious about WebGL and want to learn more? The Signals Blog, is running a series of tutorials on WebGL for Chemistry.

The goal: build a 3D molecular viewer for the Web browser using WebGL and no plugins. Each lesson builds on the last one, leading - hopefully - to an MIT-licensed component suitable for further open- or closed-source development.

This is a bit of a high-wire act as I have little previous experience programming 3D graphics or OpenGL, although I have some experience building complex JavaScript applications. I'll be learning about WebGL just as much as everyone else reading - if not more, so comments and feedback are most welcome.

Running examples are available online, so you can easily test each lesson's code with your browser of choice. The complete source for all lessons is also available.

The series so far consists of:

  1. WebGL for Chemistry Part 1: Introduction
  2. WebGL for Chemistry Part 2: Displaying a Sphere in a View