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WebGL Model Viewer

The purpose of this project is to have a base for testing WebGL and previewing models in the browser without any further dependencies to other frameworks. If you are looking for something more powerful, take a look at Three.js.


You will need to open it within a web server. Because of CORS issues, it can't be opened as a local file, unless you start Chrome with

/Applications/Google\\ Chrome --allow-file-access-from-files

Then just open html/modelViewer.html.

You can see it running here: Da Model Viewer

Alternatively, you can install it as a Chrome plugin (deprecated in Dec 22). Just point to the location of the html folder when adding it as a extension.

Supported formats

  • Partial support for Object Wavefront (.OBJ)
  • Partial support for Collada (.DAE)

Rigged Collada models are supported as well. You can preview the keyframes in an animation, inspect the skeleton, and transform the joints. At the moment, the joint transforms are limited to Collada files where those transforms are stored as separate rotations, and not as a single matrix.



We target ECMAScript 2016 (or ES7), so we can use all modern syntactic sugar. Older versions of Javascript are not supported. Use ESLint to get the style right. I'm using AirBnB Javascript style as base. To install it, install Node.js first. Then, from the console, run npm install inside the root directory of this repository.

Preferred style:

  • Declare classes with the class keyword, never with function.
  • Keep files shorter than 500 lines. If they grow bigger, try to split the files in modules.
  • Prefer modules and avoid the old (function(global) {})(this); wrapping construct.
  • Prefer readability over backwards-compatibiliy.
  • Use Promises for async operations, with the only exception of things that do not need to be waited for. For instance, images are loaded asynchronously, but we don't need to wait for them to be ready (for a WebGL texture to be created). A model can be loaded and displayed with a default white texture, and as images get loaded, the textures will appear.
  • Use async and await syntactic sugar for Promises.
  • Unfortunately, Workers do not support modules at the moment, so code involving workers will look uglier. Try to make the Worker code as independent as possible (even if it means copy-pasting a couple of already existing functions).

Comments about some of the custom rules in the ESLint config file:


The code is roughly divided into 2 main blocks: UI and rendering. All the UI is created throw controls.js, with some helpers from uiutils.js. The rest of the code is related to rendering. The main rendering loop is in renderer.js. A Renderer contains a series of 3D and 2D plugins. The 3D plugins render things in the WebGL canvas, while the 2D plugins are used to overlay things using a 2D context.

A Renderer contains a scene, that looks like this,

this.scene = {
  camera: new Camera(33.4, aspect, 0.1, 500),
  models: [],
  lights: [new SunLight(1, 0.2)],
  overlay: {alpha: 0.5},
  labels: {
    world: {
      origin: [0, 0, 0]
    scale: 1

PluginLitModel takes care of rendering all the models in the scene, but at the moment the viewer only lets you load one model at a time.

The labels inside the world section are labels with coordinates in world space. Labels in model space are inside model.labels.


A minimalist model viewer written in raw WebGL, with no dependencies to other frameworks








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