TypeScript icon, indicating that this package has built-in type declarations

2.0.8 • Public • Published


Build Status

A simple script to help bring OBJ models to your WebGL world. I originally wrote this script for my CS Graphics class so that we didn't have to only have cubes and spheres for models in order to learn WebGL. At the time, the only sort of model loader for WebGL was Mr. Doob's ThreeJS. And in order to use the loaders you had to use the entire framework (or do some very serious hacking and duct-taping in order get the model information). My main focus in creating this loader was to easily allow importing models without having to have special knowledge of a 3D graphics program (like Blender) while keeping it low-level enough so that the focus was on learning WebGL rather than learning some framework.


The main Mesh class. The constructor will parse through the OBJ file data and collect the vertex, vertex normal, texture, and face information. This information can then be used later on when creating your VBOs. Look at the initMeshBuffers source for an example of how to use the newly created Mesh


  • vertices: an array containing the vertex values that correspond to each unique face index. The array is flat in that each vertex's component is an element of the array. For example: with verts = [1, -1, 1, ...], verts[0] is x, verts[1] is y, and verts[2] is z. Continuing on, verts[3] would be the beginning of the next vertex: its x component. This is in preparation for using gl.ELEMENT_ARRAY_BUFFER for the gl.drawElements call.
    • Note that the vertices attribute is the Geometric Vertex and denotes the position in 3D space.
  • vertexNormals: an array containing the vertex normals that correspond to each unique face index. It is flat, just like vertices.
  • textures: an array containing the s and t (or u and v) coordinates for this mesh's texture. It is flat just like vertices except it goes by groups of 2 instead of 3.
  • indices: an array containing the indicies to be used in conjunction with the above three arrays in order to draw the triangles that make up faces. See below for more information on element indices.

Element Index

The indices attribute is a list of numbers that represent the indices of the above vertex groups. For example, the Nth index, mesh.indices[N], may contain the value 38. This points to the 39th (zero indexed) element. For Mesh classes, this points to a unique group vertex, normal, and texture values. However, the vertices, normals, and textures attributes are flattened lists of each attributes' components, e.g. the vertices list is a repeating pattern of [X, Y, Z, X, Y, Z, ...], so you cannot directly use the element index in order to look up the corresponding vertex position. That is to say mesh.vertices[38] does not point to the 39th vertex's X component. The following diagram illustrates how the element index under the hood:

obj loader element index description

After describing the attribute data to WebGL via vertexAttribPointer(), what was once separate array elements in JS is now just one block of data on the graphics card. That block of data in its entirety is considered a single element.

To use the element index in order to index one of the attribute arrays in JS, you will have to mimic this "chunking" of data by taking into account the number of components in an attribute (e.g. a vertex has 3 components; x, y, and z). Have a look at the following code snippet to see how to correctly use the element index in order to access an attribute for that index:

// there are 3 components for a geometric vertex: X, Y, and Z
elementIdx = mesh.indices[SOME_IDX]; // e.g. 38
// in order to get the X component of the vertex component of element "38"
elementVertX = mesh.vertices[(elementIdx * NUM_COMPONENTS_FOR_VERTS) + 0]
// in order to get the Y component of the vertex component of element "38"
elementVertY = mesh.vertices[(elementIdx * NUM_COMPONENTS_FOR_VERTS) + 1]
// in order to get the Z component of the vertex component of element "38"
elementVertZ = mesh.vertices[(elementIdx * NUM_COMPONENTS_FOR_VERTS) + 2]


  • objStr a string representation of an OBJ file with newlines preserved.

A simple example:

In your index.html file:

        <script type="text/plain" id="my_cube.obj">
            # OBJ File Generated by Blender
            o my_cube.obj
            v 1 1 1
            v -1 1 1
            v -1 -1 1
            v 1 -1 1
            v 1 1 -1
            v -1 1 -1
            v -1 -1 -1
            v 1 -1 -1
            vn 0 0 1
            vn 1 0 0
            vn -1 0 0
            vn 0 0 -1
            vn 0 1 0
            vn 0 -1 0
            f 1//1 2//1 3//1
            f 3//1 4//1 1//1
            f 5//2 1//2 4//2
            f 4//2 8//2 5//2
            f 2//3 6//3 7//3
            f 7//3 3//3 2//3
            f 7//4 8//4 5//4
            f 5//4 6//4 7//4
            f 5//5 6//5 2//5
            f 2//5 1//5 5//5
            f 8//6 4//6 3//6
            f 3//6 7//6 8//6

And in your app.js:

var gl = canvas.getContext('webgl');
var objStr = document.getElementById('my_cube.obj').innerHTML;
var mesh = new OBJ.Mesh(objStr);
// use the included helper function to initialize the VBOs
// if you don't want to use this function, have a look at its
// source to see how to use the Mesh instance.
OBJ.initMeshBuffers(gl, mesh);
// have a look at the initMeshBuffers docs for an exmample of how to
// render the model at this point

Some helper functions

downloadMeshes(nameAndURLs, completionCallback, meshes)

Takes in a JS Object of mesh_name, '/url/to/OBJ/file' pairs and a callback function. Each OBJ file will be ajaxed in and automatically converted to an OBJ.Mesh. When all files have successfully downloaded the callback function provided will be called and passed in an object containing the newly created meshes.

Note: In order to use this function as a way to download meshes, a webserver of some sort must be used.


  • nameAndURLs: an object where the key is the name of the mesh and the value is the url to that mesh's OBJ file

  • completionCallback: should contain a function that will take one parameter: an object array where the keys will be the unique object name and the value will be a Mesh object

  • meshes: In case other meshes are loaded separately or if a previously declared variable is desired to be used, pass in a (possibly empty) json object of the pattern: { 'mesh_name': OBJ.Mesh }

A simple example:

var app = {};
    app.meshes = {};
var gl = document.getElementById('mycanvas').getContext('webgl');
function webGLStart(meshes){
  app.meshes = meshes;
  // initialize the VBOs
  OBJ.initMeshBuffers(gl, app.meshes.suzanne);
  OBJ.initMeshBuffers(gl, app.meshes.sphere);
  ... other cool stuff ...
  // refer to the initMeshBuffers docs for an example of
  // how to render the mesh to the screen after calling
  // initMeshBuffers
window.onload = function(){
    'suzanne': 'models/suzanne.obj', // located in the models folder on the server
    'sphere': 'models/sphere.obj'
  }, webGLStart);

initMeshBuffers(gl, mesh)

Takes in the WebGL context and a Mesh, then creates and appends the buffers to the mesh object as attributes.


  • gl WebGLRenderingContext the canvas.getContext('webgl') context instance

  • mesh Mesh a single OBJ.Mesh instance

The newly created mesh attributes are:

Attrbute Description
normalBuffer contains the model's Vertex Normals
normalBuffer.itemSize set to 3 items
normalBuffer.numItems the total number of vertex normals
textureBuffer contains the model's Texture Coordinates
textureBuffer.itemSize set to 2 items (or 3 if W texture coord is enabled)
textureBuffer.numItems the number of texture coordinates
vertexBuffer contains the model's Vertex Position Coordinates (does not include w)
vertexBuffer.itemSize set to 3 items
vertexBuffer.numItems the total number of vertices
indexBuffer contains the indices of the faces
indexBuffer.itemSize is set to 1
indexBuffer.numItems the total number of indices

A simple example (a lot of steps are missing, so don't copy and paste):

var gl   = canvas.getContext('webgl'),
var mesh = new OBJ.Mesh(obj_file_data);
// compile the shaders and create a shader program
var shaderProgram = gl.createProgram();
// compilation stuff here
// make sure you have vertex, vertex normal, and texture coordinate
// attributes located in your shaders and attach them to the shader program
shaderProgram.vertexPositionAttribute = gl.getAttribLocation(shaderProgram, "aVertexPosition");
shaderProgram.vertexNormalAttribute = gl.getAttribLocation(shaderProgram, "aVertexNormal");
shaderProgram.textureCoordAttribute = gl.getAttribLocation(shaderProgram, "aTextureCoord");
// create and initialize the vertex, vertex normal, and texture coordinate buffers
// and save on to the mesh object
OBJ.initMeshBuffers(gl, mesh);
// now to render the mesh
gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, mesh.vertexBuffer);
gl.vertexAttribPointer(shaderProgram.vertexPositionAttribute, mesh.vertexBuffer.itemSize, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);
// it's possible that the mesh doesn't contain
// any texture coordinates (e.g. suzanne.obj in the development branch).
// in this case, the texture vertexAttribArray will need to be disabled
// before the call to drawElements
  // if the texture vertexAttribArray has been previously
  // disabled, then it needs to be re-enabled
  gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, mesh.textureBuffer);
  gl.vertexAttribPointer(shaderProgram.textureCoordAttribute, mesh.textureBuffer.itemSize, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);
gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, mesh.normalBuffer);
gl.vertexAttribPointer(shaderProgram.vertexNormalAttribute, mesh.normalBuffer.itemSize, gl.FLOAT, false, 0, 0);
gl.bindBuffer(gl.ELEMENT_ARRAY_BUFFER, model.mesh.indexBuffer);
gl.drawElements(gl.TRIANGLES, model.mesh.indexBuffer.numItems, gl.UNSIGNED_SHORT, 0);

deleteMeshBuffers(gl, mesh)

Deletes the mesh's buffers, which you would do when deleting an object from a scene so that you don't leak video memory. Excessive buffer creation and deletion leads to video memory fragmentation. Beware.


npm install webgl-obj-loader

var fs = require('fs');
var OBJ = require('webgl-obj-loader');
var meshPath = './development/models/sphere.obj';
var opt = { encoding: 'utf8' };
fs.readFile(meshPath, opt, function (err, data){
  if (err) return console.error(err);
  var mesh = new OBJ.Mesh(data);

Webpack Support

Thanks to mentos1386 for the webpack-obj-loader!


http://frenchtoast747.github.com/webgl-obj-loader/ This demo is the same thing inside of the gh-pages branch. Do a git checkout gh-pages inside of the webgl-obj-loader directory to see how the OBJ loader is used in a project.



  • Add simple support for N-Gons (thanks qtip!)
    • This uses a very elementary algorithm to triangulate N-gons, but should still produce a full mesh.
      • Any help to create a better triangulation algorithm would be greatly appreciated! Please create a pull request.


  • Updated to TypeScript
  • Breaking change: the Mesh option indicesPerMaterial has been removed in favor of always providing the indices per material.
    • Instead of mesh.indices holding an array of arrays of numbers, mesh.indicesPerMaterial will now hold the indices where the top level array index is the index of the material and the inner arrays are the indices for that material.
  • Breaking change: the Layout class has changed from directly applying attributes to the Layout instance to creating an attributeMap


  • Add Support for separating mesh indices by materials.
  • Add calculation for tangents and bitangents
  • Add runtime OBJ library version.


  • Add support for 3D texture coordinates. By default the third texture coordinate, w, is truncated. Support can be enabled by passing enableWTextureCoord: true in the options parameter of the Mesh class.


  • Modularized all of the source files into ES6 modules.
    • The Mesh, MaterialLibrary, and Material classes are now actual ES6 classes.
  • Added tests for each of the classes
    • Found a bug in the Mesh class. Vertex normals would not appear if the face declaration used the shorthand variant; e.g. f 1/1
  • Provided Initial MTL file parsing support.
    • Still requires Documentation. For now, have a look at the tests in the test directory for examples of use.
    • Use the new downloadModels() function in order to download the OBJ meshes complete with their MTL files attached. If the MTL files reference images, by default, those images will be downloaded and attached.
  • The downloading functions now use the new fetch() API which utilizes promises.


  • Support for NodeJS.


  • Dropped jQuery dependency: downloadMeshes no longer requires jQuery to ajax in the OBJ files.
  • changed namespace to something a little shorter: OBJ
  • Updated documentation


  • Initial support for Quad models


  • Texture Coordinates are now loaded into mesh.textures


  • Vertex Normals are now loaded into mesh.vertexNormals

Bitdeli Badge

Package Sidebar


npm i webgl-obj-loader

Weekly Downloads






Unpacked Size

546 kB

Total Files


Last publish


  • frenchtoast747