WebGPU for Metal Developers, Part Two

In the previous article we took a first look at WebGPU and got familiar with the essential pieces of the API, the command submission model, and drawing in 2D from a static buffer. In this article, we’ll look much deeper into WebGPU. Some of our topics include: texture creation and sampling displacement mapping in WGSL …

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WebGPU for Metal Developers, Part One

Doing high-performance 3D rendering on the Web has always been a tricky proposition. WebGL, in its quest for programmer familiarity and cross-platform ubiquity, adopted the API of OpenGL ES. As such it has never been capable of exploiting the full power of the underlying GPU, even as desktop APIs like DirectX 12, Metal, and Vulkan …

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Using Basis Universal Texture Compression with Metal

In this short article, we’ll take a look at a relatively new compressed texture format called Basis. Basis is developed by Binomial, LLC, a company founded by Rich Geldreich (of crunch fame) and Stephanie Hurlburt. Basis is unique among compression formats in that it emphasizes efficient transcoding between compressed formats. This means that a single …

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What’s New in Metal (2019)

With WWDC 2019 over, it’s a good time to reflect on everything that was announced and start seeing how we can put it into practice. The purpose of this article is to round up the changes to the Metal framework and tools and provide pointers to where you can learn more. This was a banner …

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Vertex Data and Vertex Descriptors

The purpose of this article is to describe and explore a foundational concept in Metal: vertex descriptors. Vertex descriptors are the glue between your application code (written in Objective-C or Swift) and your shader functions (written in the Metal Shading Language). They describe the shape of data consumed by your shaders. When I was writing …

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Picking and Hit-Testing in Metal

In this article, we’ll see how to interact with our 3D scenes using a technique called picking. Picking helps us answer the question “What did the user just tap on?” More precisely, picking is the process of determining which object or objects in our scene are being indicated by an interaction like a mouse click …

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Rendering 3D Text with Core Text and libtess2

In this article, we’ll discuss how to create and render 3D text with Metal. Most applications need to render text, and there are many techniques for drawing 2D text with graphics APIs, from pre-rasterized font atlases, to signed-distance field methods like Chris Green’s seminal work at Valve or GLyphy, to cutting-edge vector-based solutions like Slug. …

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Rendering Physically-Based ModelIO Materials

In this article, we’ll take a look at a portion of the ModelIO framework we haven’t used so far: materials. In previous articles, we’ve used ModelIO to do the heavy lifting of loading 3D geometry, but have loaded and applied textures manually. This ad hoc approach works when we only have a base color map, …

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Writing a Modern Metal App from Scratch: Part 2

In the previous article, we wrote enough Metal code to get the spinning silhouette of a teapot on the screen, but that still leaves a lot to be desired as far as a “modern” app is concerned. In this article, we’ll further flesh out the app and introduce lighting, materials, texturing, and managing multiple objects …

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Writing a Modern Metal App from Scratch: Part 1

Getting Started This article is a quick introduction to how to use the Metal, MetalKit, and Model I/O frameworks in Swift. If you know your way around UIKit or Cocoa development, you should be able to follow along for the most part. Some things like shaders and matrices will be foreign to you, but you …

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