Last Modified: 11/07/99
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The Future of 3D on the Web

3D Standards

The overall future of 3D graphics on the WWW seemed assurred. Marketers in particular find that customers can now examine products online much more easily if they can manipulate the objects, see they from many angles, and close up. For example StyleClick now displays 10% of its products in 3D and Sharper Image notes that the 3D views have pulled in 300% more people than before and people spend 50% more time in the 3D areas. An official notes that "now we can finally offer something on the web that is clearly superior to a catalog". There are also major advantages in the areas of science and education.

However, what form that 3D graphics will take is not yet clear. VRML was the early standard but is no longer a clear winner. Some systems offer a mixture of VRML and other proprietary products while others don't use VRML at all.

The VRML consortium has recognized this and has morphed into the Web3D consortium. It is delveloping X3D, an XML variant of VRML which uses a part of VRML as a core subset which can then be extended in various ways with proprietary products so that the operation and file formats will remain interoperable. X3D will be backward compatible with VRML and will also be compatible with MPEG-4 and HTML NG. Examples of X3D syntax include:

VRML 97 : DEF MyView viewpoint { position 0 0 10 }

XML : <viewpoint id='MyView' position='0 0 10' >

Another example:

<transform id="NameOfTransform" bboxcenter="0 0 0" 
bboxsize="4 4 4" translation="10 5 0" rotation="0 0 0 1"
scale="0.5 0.5 0.5"
scaleOrientation="0 0 1 0" center="0 0 0" >

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