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Mesh and PointCloud Loaders

The mesh and pointcloud loader category is intended for simpler mesh and point clouds formats that describe a "single geometry primitive" (as opposed to e.g. a scenegraph consisting of a hierarchy of multiple geometries).

Mesh/PointCloud Category Loaders


Data Format

A single mesh is typically defined by a set of attributes, such as positions, colors, normals etc, as well as a draw mode.

The Pointcloud/Mesh loaders output mesh data in a common form that is optimized for use in WebGL frameworks:

  • All attributes (and indices if present) are stored as typed arrays of the proper type.
  • All attributes (and indices if present) are wrapped into glTF-style "accessor objects", e.g. {size: 1-4, value: typedArray}.
  • Attribute names are mapped to glTF attribute names (on a best-effort basis).
  • An indices field is added (only if present in the loaded geometry).
  • A primitive drawing mode value is added (the numeric value matches WebGL constants, e.g GL.TRIANGLES).
loaderDataObject (Optional)Loader and format specific data
headerObjectSee Header
modeNumberSee Mode
attributesObjectKeys are glTF attribute names and values are accessor objects.
indicesObject (Optional)If present, describes the indices (elements) of the geometry as an accessor object.

The header fields are only recommended at this point, applications can not assume they will be present:

header FieldTypeContents
boundingBoxArray[[minX, minY, minZ], [maxX, maxY, maxZ]]


Primitive modes are aligned with OpenGL/glTF primitive types

ValuePrimitive ModeComment
0POINTSUsed for point cloud category data
1LINESLines are rarely used due to limitations in GPU-based rendering
4TRIANGLESUsed for most meshes. Indices attributes are often used to reuse vertex data in remaining attributes


attributes and indices are represented by glTF "accessor objects" with the binary data for that attribute resolved into a typed array of the proper type.

Accessors FieldsglTF?TypeContents
valueNoTypedArrayContains the typed array (corresponds to bufferView). The type of the array will match the GL constant in componentType.
sizeNoNumberNumber of components, 1-4.
byteOffsetYesNumberStarting offset into the bufferView.
countYesNumberThe number of elements/vertices in the attribute data.
originalNameNoString (Optional)If this was a named attribute in the original file, the original name (before substitution with glTF attribute names) will be made available here.

glTF Attribute Name Mapping

To help applications manage attribute name differences between various formats, mesh loaders map known attribute names to glTF 2.0 standard attribute names a best-effort basis.

When a loader can map an attribute name, it will replace ir with the glTF equivalent. This allows applications to use common code to handle meshes and point clouds from different formats.

NameAccessor Type(s)Component Type(s)Description
POSITION"VEC3"5126 (FLOAT)XYZ vertex positions
NORMAL"VEC3"5126 (FLOAT)Normalized XYZ vertex normals
TANGENT"VEC4"5126 (FLOAT)XYZW vertex tangents where the w component is a sign value (-1 or +1) indicating handedness of the tangent basis
TEXCOORD_0"VEC2"5126 (FLOAT), 5121 (UNSIGNEDBYTE) normalized, 5123 (UNSIGNEDSHORT) normalizedUV texture coordinates for the first set
TEXCOORD_1"VEC2"5126 (FLOAT), 5121 (UNSIGNEDBYTE) normalized, 5123 (UNSIGNEDSHORT) normalizedUV texture coordinates for the second set
COLOR_0"VEC3", "VEC4"5126 (FLOAT), 5121 (UNSIGNEDBYTE) normalized, 5123 (UNSIGNEDSHORT) normalizedRGB or RGBA vertex color
WEIGHTS_0"VEC4"5126 (FLOAT), 5121 (UNSIGNEDBYTE) normalized, 5123 (UNSIGNEDSHORT) normalized

Note that for efficiency reasons, mesh loaders are not required to convert the format of an attribute's binary data to match the glTF specifications (i.e. if normals were encoded using BYTES then that is what will be returned even though glTF calls out for FLOAT32). Any such alignment needs to be done by the application as a second step.


Scenegraph support

For more complex, scenegraph-type formats (i.e. formats that contain multiple geometric primitives), provides glTF 2.0 support via the GLTFLoader.

Material support

Material support is provided by some mesh formats (e.g. OBJ/MTL) and is currently not implemented by, however the glTF loader has full support for PBR (Physically-Based Rendering) materials.