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Makes high-performance batched WebGL calls easy.

BatchGL models series of WebGL calls as a tree with vertex data buffered into the leaves. It renders the tree depth-first, so buffered vertices in leaves will get batched over together. Leaves closer to each other will get rendered more closely to each other, allowing for fewer expensive context switches, texture buffering, etc.

BatchGL is hosted on Github and is distributed under the MIT license. It's currently <1kb minifed and compressed.


bower install batchgl or npm install batchgl

You can use the build/batchgl.js file as-is, or run npm install && make build to get the minified and gzipped versions.


Here's how you might set up a texture-rendering pipeline:

 * One-time setup of the rendering pipeline starts here:
var Program = BatchGL.Root.extend({
  init: function(context, vertexShader, fragmentShader) {
    // compile shaders, link program here 
  run: function() {
    // tell WebGL to use the program 
var Texture = BatchGL.Step.extend({
  init: function(program, image) {
    // setup 
  run: function() {
    // buffer, bind textures 
var Uniform = BatchGL.Leaf.extend({
  init: function() {
    // setup 
  run: function() {
    // bind uniforms here 
  buffer: function(vertexSet) {
    // buffer vertices to WebGL 
  flush: function() {
    // call WebGL drawing methods 
var context = new BatchGL.Context(canvas),
    program = new Program(context, vertexShader, fragmentShader),
    sprite = new Texture(program, spriteSheet),
    otherSprite = new Texture(program, spriteSheet2),
    lion = new Uniform(sprite, someCoordinates),
    tiger = new Uniform(sprite, otherCoordinates),
    bear = new Uniform(otherSprite, otherOtherCoordinates);
 * One-time setup is finished. You can now create sets of vertices pointing to
 * different leaves in the pipeline tree, and pass them around as renderable
 * objects.
var v1 = new BatchGL.VertexSet(lion, [ /* some vertices */ ]);
var v2 = new BatchGL.VertexSet(lion, [ /* more vertices */ ]);
var v3 = new BatchGL.VertexSet(tiger, [ /* more vertices */ ]);
var v4 = new BatchGL.VertexSet(bear, [ /* more vertices */ ]);
var v5 = new BatchGL.VertexSet(bear, [ /* more vertices */ ]);
 * You can buffer vertices in any order: BatchGL will optimize the underlying
 * calls so that it doesn't matter.
 * The following renders any buffered vertices. It optimizes the underlying
 * WebGL buffering and drawing according to the rendering tree set up above, to
 * maximize batching and to minimize expensive context switches.

API Docs


The BatchGL Context object holds a reference to a <canvas> element and its corresponding WebGL context.


  • new Context(canvas). The Context constructor takes a canvas object and initializes its gl object by calling the HTML5 getContext method.
  • .updateSize(). This updates the width and height properties of the <canvas> element to be equal to their container's CSS box-sizing. It also updates the WebGL viewport to be the same.

Public Properties

  • canvas, the <canvas> element.
  • gl, the WebGL context object.


TreeNode is the base class for any of the classes that make up the BatchGL rendering tree: Root, Step, and Leaf. TreeNodes are never instantiated directly, and are just a convenient holding place for shared callback stubs.

Class Methods:

  • .extend(Derived) sets up the prototype chain so that Derived extends the class, and also copies over any class methods from the base class to Derived. If Derived is a function, it will use the function as the constructor; if Derived is an object, it will create a constructor, make it extend the base class, and then add any properties from the given object to the derived constructor's prototype. In any case, it returns the derived constructor function.

Public Methods:

  • new TreeNode(). The TreeNode constructor takes any number of arguments, and passes them all to its overridable init method.
  • .init(), a method stub. Client code can override the init method to do something when a node is initialized.
  • .run(), a method stub. Client code can override the run method to do work when BatchGL is processing a render call and has reached the current node in the tree.

Framework-Reserved Methods

  • .render(), a method stub that gets overridden by the derived node classes. Client code probably shouldn't override this method. render is called to render the current node.


The Root class defines the roots of rendering trees. You might set up a WebGL program in the root, and use it for all subsequent calls; if you have multiple programs, you might not do much here at all except for some basic environment setup.

Public Methods

  • new Root(context) creates a new Root object for the given Context object. It also calls the overridable .init() method inherited from TreeNode.
  • .render() calls the .run() method, and then calls render on all of the root's children.

Framework-Reserved Methods

  • .add(child) adds a TreeNode child to the Root. Steps (and Leaves) call this method automatically on their parents, so you shouldn't need to call this method manually when constructing a rendering tree.

Public Properties

  • context holds the Context object for the root.


The Step class is for intermediate steps in the rendering tree. For example, you might bind textures in a step, which would ensure that any calls to the leaves beneath them would be batched into a single texture binding call. If you're using multiple programs, you probably want the programs to be implemented as Step classes underneath a single Root.

Public Methods

  • new Step(parent) creates a new Step object underneath the given parent Root or Step node. It also calls the overridable .init() method inherited from TreeNode.
  • .render(), much like the Root object, calls the Step's run() method and then calls render on all of its children.

Framework-Reserved Methods

  • .add(child), like the Root's .add() method, adds a TreeNode child to the Step. Since Steps and Leaves call this automatically in their constructors, you shouldn't need to call this manually when constructing a rendering tree.

Public Properties

  • context is the Step's Context object.
  • parent is the Step's parent.


The Leaf class defines the leaves of a rendering tree, and are what do the actual buffering and drawing of vertices. Leaves should ideally be cheap to switch: binding things like uniforms here is a good idea.

Public Methods

  • new Leaf(parent) creates a new Leaf object underneath the given Root or Step parent. It also calls the overridable .init() method inherited from TreeNode.
  • .buffer(vertexSet) is an overriddable method stub for buffering VertexSet instances. You should put WebGL buffering calls in here.
  • flush() is an overridable method stub for flushing buffered vertices. You should put WebGL draw calls here.
  • .render(), much like the other TreeNode rendering methods, calls the Leaf's .run() method. However, the similarities stop there: it then calls its own .buffer() method on each buffered VertexSet, and assuming that it buffered some vertices, then calls .flush().

Framework-Reserved Methods

  • ._bufferVertex() buffers a VertexSet into the Leaf's rendering queue. VertexSets call this method automatically when you call their .buffer() method, so you should never have to call this yourself.

Public Properties

  • parent is the Leaf's TreeNode parent.
  • context is the Leaf's Context object.


The VertexSet class defines a set of vertices for a particular leaf in the rendering tree. VertexSets are easy objects to pass around, and you can just call their .buffer() method when you want to tell the rendering tree that you want to render the set. Whenever you want to flush the frame, calling .render() on the tree's root node will flush all of the buffered vertices.

Public Methods

  • new VertexSet(leaf, vertices) creates a new VertexSet for the given leaf. The vertices array is an optional array of numeric vertices; if you don't pass one into the constructor, you'll have to pass one in later with a .setVertices call before attempting to buffer the set.
  • .setVertices(vertices) takes an array of numeric vertices, and creates a Float32Array out of them and assigns it to the vertices property.
  • .buffer() buffers the vertex into its Leaf parent for rendering. Note that it won't actually be rendered until a subsequent .render() call on the root of the rendering tree (which you should probably call at the end of your frame).

Public Properties

  • leaf is the parent Leaf object.
  • vertices is a Float32Array of vertices.

Development Notes

To run the tests, make sure you've run an npm install at some point, and then run script/test 8000 (or pass in the numerical port of your choice).

If you want to peruse the code, tell me about bugs, or submit patches: a link to the repo.