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A friendly interface around WebGL shader programs


A simple interface to WebGL shaders which uses a proxy object to provide direct, efficient access to a program's uniforms and attributes; an intuitive API that does not sacrifice performance.


Browserify is recommended.

$ npm install shayda


Let's assuming the following vertex shader source:

attribute vec3 aVertexPosition;

uniform mat4 uMVMatrix;
uniform mat4 uPMatrix;

void main(void) {
  gl_Position = uPMatrix * uMVMatrix * vec4(aVertexPosition, 1.0);

And a very simple fragment shader:

void main(void) {
  gl_FragColor = vec4(1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0);


To compile the shader sources into a program, use shayda.compile():

// gl is the context object returned from canvas.getContext("webgl")
var program = shayda.compile(gl, vertexShaderSource, fragmentShaderSource);

This method will throw an error on failure, and return a shader object on success. As well as references to the underlying GL context and program, this object is augmented with properties that enable attributes and uniforms to be manipulated directly by name - there's no longer any need to use unwieldy combinations of functions such as getUniformLocation and uniformMatrix4fv.

Program Activation

To activate the compiled program, call its use() method:


Direct uniform assignment

The shader object has a setter defined for each uniform. Where once you would write:

var pUniform = gl.getUniformLocation(prog, "uPMatrix");
gl.uniformMatrix4fv(pUniform, false, new Float32Array(perspectiveMatrix.flatten()));

You can now simply do:

program.uPMatrix = new Float32Array(perspectiveMatrix.flatten());

Is that clean or what?

For consistency, all setters are currently mapped to the array-consuming (i.e. v-suffixed) variants of the GL functions such as gl.uniform1iv, gl.uniform3iv and gl.uniform4fv. For vector uniforms you also get methods of the form setX(x, y, z, w) - wherein X is the name of the uniform with the first character uppercased - which receive an argument for each component of the vector.

// The following two lines are equivalent
program.lightPosition = new Float32Array([1.0, 2.0, 3.0]);
program.setLightPosition(1.0, 2.0, 3.0);


Attributes also get a couple of helper methods. Firstly, to enable/disable vertex attribute arrays:


And to set the attribute from the currently bound buffer (the arguments are the same as the last 5 to the standard gl.vertexAttribPointer() call):

program.aVertexPosition.pointer(3, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);


A very simple demo, based on Mozilla's Getting started with WebGL, can be found in the demo directory. The commented lines therein show shayda in operation.


  • Support samplers


© 2013 Jason Frame [ @jaz303 / ]
Released under the MIT License.