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Enable WebGL, Direct2D Rendering In Firefox 4 Beta

28 Lug/10

The latest beta of Firefox 4, and actually several previous versions of Firefox as well, have features included that are disabled by default, mostly because they have not been tested enough to enable them for all Internet users by default.

If you have read the Firefox 4 Beta 2 release notes you may have noticed that they explicitly mention two features that are included but disabled in the beta release, specifically:

  • Full WebGL support is included but disabled by default at this time
  • An experimental Direct2D rendering backend is available on Windows, turned off by default.

Both features can be enabled in the about:config configuration settings of the Firefox browser.

How To Enable WebGL In Firefox

What it does: “WebGL enables web content to use an API based on OpenGL ES 2.0 to perform 3D rendering in an HTML canvas in browsers that support it.”

Demo Pages:

Puls

webgl demo

webgl demo

Escher Droste
Metatunnel

Enabling WebGL:

Type about:config in the Firefox 4 address bar, and enter to load the configuration page. First time users need to accept the warning message before they can continue.

Filter for the term webgl which should display four results. Locate webgl.enabled_for_all_sites and double-click the entry to set it from false to true. This enables WebGL in Firefox. Restart the browser to apply the changes.

How To Enable Direct2D Rendering In Firefox

What it does: You should enjoy your new browsing experience, in most cases you should have a noticeably faster and more responsive browser, particularly when using graphically intensive websites (not using flash, which will still be slow) (via)

Demos:

  • http://people.mozilla.com/~vladimir/demos/photos.svg
  • http://srufaculty.sru.edu/david.dailey/svg/balloon.svg
  • http://maps.google.com/

Enabling Direct2D:

It has to be noted that Direct2D is currently only supported by Windows 7 or Windows Vista, with Windows 7 being the recommended operating system. Firefox users should also have a DirectX 10 compatible video card, even though DirectX 9 cards may work but with significantly lower performance gains.

To turn on Direct2d, complete the following steps:

  • Enter ‘about:config’
  • Click through the warning, if necessary
  • Enter gfx.font in the ‘Filter’ box
  • Double-click on ‘gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled’ to set it to true
  • Below this, right click and select New > Integer to add a pref setting
  • Enter ‘mozilla.widget.render-mode’ for the preference name, 6 for the value
  • Restart

And that’s how you enable WebGL and Direct2D in the Firefox browser. Have you been experimenting with those parameters? Let us know in the comments.


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