We get this question a lot: why WebGL? With subsequent questions like what about security? what about standard?
Well, we believe WebGL will become THE standard to display 3D content online in the browser. That’s the very reason why we started playing with WebGL as soon as it was out there, and why we launched sketchfab.com
Working on a technology natively understandable by the browser is the only way to be working on a scalable product. Plugin-based solutions, beyond the drawback of requiring installation, have to be developed for each browser, each operating system, each platform, each device…
Working with WebGL allows us to provide in-browser support for more than 20 native 3D formats, and on almost 60 % of browsers, and counting. In the meantime, we are also working on a fallback for non-modern browsers. Working on WebGL makes it possible to reach sketchfab.com from an Android tablet, and soon on the iPad. Working on WebGL makes it possible for us to provide a full standard universal 3D viewer.
As soon as you want to publish something online, and display it on someone else’s computer, you have to give it in a way or another, and an evil-minded hacker can get parts of it. We dont do any magic about it, models can be used anywhere if skilled people really want to do that. You have the same concern with ANY online industry: movies, musics, etc… and any service to publish content: youtube, soundcloud…. You can try to hide the data as much as possible, but someone will still be able to take it.
However, you should keep in mind that 3D is complex, even more than video or music are. Every digital input has an inside structure you can’t see, and the outside face you can see. It’s the very same thing for a 3D file: a hacker could get the overall look, but not the parts composing the model, and he wouldn’t be able to edit the original file on a 3D software.
In the end, what one can get is what one can see. Yes, someone could get one big triangulated mesh, but it would need to be retopologized, and a random 3D artist could remake the same model from scratch in less time.
No one can completely secure a data published online, that’s the reality. At sketchfab, we take this matter very seriously, and are working on several options to protect models, including private features with password protection.
And regarding Microsoft’s concern that WebGL raises too many security risks, we suggest you read Mozilla’s answer.