Smallest Webgl page?

This week I was intrigued by my co worker Andor Salga trying to make a webgl page that was just an empty black canvas, but was still technically a webgl empty black canvas in as few characters as possible. It doesn’t HAVE to be black, though, just some colour of some sort.

Anyway, it ended up on twitter, and was passed around by a couple people and this is what we now have:

<canvas onclick=with(getContext('experimental-webgl'))clearColor(0,0,0,1),clear(16640)>

Please forgive the use of with šŸ˜›

It is currently at 88 characters.

I challenge someone to reduce the character count.

I also figure this is a good chance to explain WebGL, how to set it up, and some of the dirty JavaScript tricks used here.

What you need to setup a WebGL context is a canvas, access to a reference of that canvas, three function calls, and a buffer bit seen as 16640 in the current version.

The function calls are getContext, clearColor, and clear.

getContext returns the object that clearColor and clear must be used on.

The buffer bit is actually a constant variable defined as COLOR_BUFFER_BIT, or 16384, or 0x4000, or 0100000000000000, or the bitwise operation 8<<11. With the decimal version being the smallest number of characters at 5. It is that one singular bit in the binary representation we are interested in, but I also found out that the DEPTH_BUFFER_BIT can also be turned on, usually written as COLOR_BUFFER_BIT | DEPTH_BUFFER_BIT giving us the decimal of 16640… still only 5 characters, but I am currently using… just because.

The practical and readable way to do what we need setup would be something like this:

<canvas id="canvas"></canvas>
  var canvas = document.getElementById( "canvas" );
  var graphics = canvas.getContext( 'experimental-webgl' );

  graphics.clearColor( 0,0,0,1 );
  graphics.clear( graphics.COLOR_BUFFER_BIT | graphics.DEPTH_BUFFER_BIT );

So how do we go from the above to 88 characters?

First if we drop the script in an event on the canvas element itself so we don't need to create a script element, and we no longer need to search for the element by id as it exists as the keyword "this". The only event I could get to respond in this context was onclick… so onclick it is.

Next is to drop the buffer bit and just use the pure value explained above.

If the string in the onclick event doesn't have any spaces, we don't need to put it in quotes. Good for us as we don't want to use spaces anyway.

Drop the . Valid HTML is far too long šŸ˜›

The this word in this.getContext isn’t needed inside the onclick… the browser will find it.

Using with allows us to not have to attach clear and clearColour to an object, just so long as the object returned from getContext is inside the with parameters.

What with does is allows you to take an object as a parameter, and anything inside the following block of code that does not exist within that scope, the browser will then check if it exists inside the object supplied as a parameter. This function is dangerous and there is only ONE time to use this function, and that is when you are trying to make a WebGL page 88 characters šŸ˜›

We should now have something that looks like this…

<canvas onclick=with(getContext(‘experimental-webgl’)){clearColor(0,0,0,1);clear(16640)}>

We are at 90 characters now.

To drop those extra two characters we need to make clearColor(0,0,0,1); clear(16640) one command, because just like any operation, if with has no curly braces, it will execute the next line, and end.

We are now going to pervert the ability to define multiple variables using a comma like “var i = 0, a = 1;” so if we drop our function calls in between the comma, it should work… in all the wrong ways… just drop the curly braces and turn the semi-colon into a comma like this “clearColor(0,0,0,1),clear(16640)” That is technically runnable JavaScript.

We now have 88 characters with this:

<canvas onclick=with(getContext('experimental-webgl'))clearColor(0,0,0,1),clear(16640)>

Again, I am challenging someone to make it less than 88 characters.


20 Responses to “Smallest Webgl page?”

  1. Hi Scott,
    Looks impressive!

  2. Clearcolor should have a default value… You should be able to just call clear.

    default is 0,0,0,0

  3. Yup, but then you can’t see it šŸ˜€

  4. […] bit of fun: what’s the smallest possible WebGL page? (Peter Strohm has a less-minimal but more useful sample in […]

  5. argon master Says:

    Fills in red for me. @Chrome 9

  6. argon master Says:

    I mean this: <canvas onclick=with(getContext(‘experimental-webgl’))clearColor(1),clear(16640)>

  7. argon master Says:

    In fact THIS is probably the shortest:
    <canvas onclick=with(getContext(‘experimental-webgl’))clearColor(clear(16640))>

    It works in Chrome 9 for me.

  8. Does in fact work in Chrome.

    Does not work in Minefield.

    Is Chrome getting creative? or is Minefield simply behind in the spec?

    Either way, very interesting solution.

  9. Buuuut, I took what you showed me, and was able to knock off two characters from both Chrome and Minefield.

  10. It doesnt work for me without the tags , head, body, etc, any ideas? should i save it as html or htm (using chrome 9 and firefox 4b10) thanx

  11. Sorry, I forgot to click twice, now it is working!

  12. I think I have made it smaller with:

  13. “”

  14. Seems I am having trouble posting with html braces – insert them yourself

    canvas onclick=getContext(‘experimental-webgl’,{alpha:0}).clear(16640)

  15. Damian, I cannot seem to get it to work in Chrome. Can you confirm it works in Chrome?

  16. The quotes in the above code around “experimental-wegl get messed up with the html formatting in the blog. Lets try double quotes (still without the html braces):
    canvas onclick=getContext(“experimental-webgl”,{alpha:0}).clear(16640)

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