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History of VRML and Its Development Process. Learning Objectives. Understand the history of VRML Understand the purpose and functions of VRML Learn how to view a VRML file in a file and have a general conception of how the file is defined Understand where VRML may go in the future. 1994.

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learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the history of VRML
  • Understand the purpose and functions of VRML
  • Learn how to view a VRML file in a file and have a general conception of how the file is defined
  • Understand where VRML may go in the future.



Prototype 3D interface for the Web developed by Mark Pesce and Tony Parisi



Developed based on Open Inventor format - described static 3D scenes



Silicon Graphics' Moving Worlds proposal for a VRML revision is adopted



Recognized as an international standard by ISO and IEC (ISO/IEC 14772)



Proposed revision to VRML97 (ISO/IEC 14772:200x)Under development .... see the Web3D Consortium for details


Here is a nice historical summary of the process.

the origin
The Origin
  • Created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
  • Passed by 75% vote of member organizations
  • 3D interactive objects and worlds
  • Web based
  • Universal interchange format for 3D graphics and multimedia
design criteria
Design Criteria
  • Authorability
  • Composability
  • Extensibility
  • Performance
  • Scalability
what it does
What it Does
  • Implicitly establishes a world coordinate space for all objects defined in the file, as well as all objects included by the file;
  • Explicitly defines and composes a set of 3D and multimedia objects;
  • Can specify hyperlinks to other files and applications
  • Can define object behaviors.
features 1
Features 1

Taken from http://www.virtualrealms.com.au/vrml/tute01/tutorial.htm

  • Navigation - many control options - walk, fly, examine or none (Contact and Cortona also support proprietary 3rd-person avatar modes)
  • Viewpoints - pre-defined camera positions
  • Models - primitives (box, sphere, cone, cylinder), extrusions, indexed face set (mesh), line set, point set, elevation grid and text (Contact and Cortona also support proprietary spline and NURBS geometry)
  • Materials - diffuse color, specular, emissive, ambient, shininess, transparency, color per vertex
  • Sound - fully spacialized 3D audio in WAVE or MIDI format
  • Textures - support for JPEG, GIF, PNG and MPEG1 video. (Contact and Cortona also have proprietary support for Flash, RealMedia, AVI, multi-texturing and environment mapping)
features 2
Features 2
  • Collisions - collision detection between user and objects (As of version 4, Cortona supports object to object collision detection)
  • Animation - animate position, rotation, scale, points, color and much more. Scope for many separate animations in one world all with different time lines and triggered by different events. Almost every attribute can be animated!
  • Sensors - sense user activity such as touch, drag (plane, cylinder and sphere), time, proximity, visibility (Contact and Cortona also have proprietary support for key sensors and drag 'n' drop sensors)
  • Scripting - Interfaces directly with Javascript, Java, the web browser and any programming language residing on the client/server
features 3
Features 3
  • Routes - scripts, animations and object properties can be "wired" together in an infinite number of ways to create any effect
  • Compact - extremely small file size with gzip compression
  • Modular - references external textures, models, scenes and scripts
  • Extensible - if the core VRML nodes aren't enough you can create your own nodes using Prototypes
  • Other - Cortona and Contact support full-screen mode and 3D stereo with the right hardware. They can also both be embedded in either a web page or a stand-alone application with full control of the scene graph and 3D engine from C++, java, javascript and vbscript.
  • Box
  • Cone
  • Cylinder
  • ElevationGrid
  • Extrusion
  • IndexedFaceSet
  • IndexedLineSet
  • PointSet
  • Sphere
  • Text
future 1
Future 1
  • As stated in the History section a revision/replacement for VRML97 has been proposed called X3D (Extensible 3D). In short it adds the following new functionality and formalizes some extensions that have developed since VRML97.
    • Full backwards compatibility with VRML97
    • Full extensibility through Components and Profiles
    • Core profile is a limited subset of VRML97 for lightweight plug-ins and MPEG4 compatibility
    • Optional XML and binary encodings, in addition to VRML's traditional ASCII encoding
    • H-Anim - Humanoid Animation. Standardized hierarchical structure and interface for animated avatars
    • GeoVRML the representation of accurate real-time geographical data using VRML
    • NURBS - organic models described using NURBS mathematics rather than polygons thus significantly reducing file size and increasing render optimization
future 2
Future 2
    • 2-way Web page communication through a multi-language scene authoring interface (SAI)
    • Universal Media - In-built standard media items (textures, models etc) to speed download time
    • Multi-texturing extensions
    • Enhanced sensors (keyboard, joystick, drag 'n' drop etc)
  • Additionally VRML is included or referenced in the upcoming MPEG-4 standard, Java3D and in other developing standards.
  • Some of the new proprietary Web3D technologies are derivatives of VRML:
    • Blaxxun3D (www.blaxxun.com)
    • Shout3D (www.shout3d.com)
    • Sony Blendo (www.blendomedia.com)





Transform { # Third child - a blue box

translation -2.4 .2 1

rotation 0 1 1 .9

children [

Shape {

geometry Box {}

appearance Appearance {

material Material { diffuseColor 0 0 1 } # Blue





] # end of children for world


  • #VRML V2.0 utf8
  • Transform {
  • children [
  • NavigationInfo { headlight FALSE } # We'll add our own light
  • DirectionalLight { # First child
  • direction 0 0 -1 # Light illuminating the scene
  • }
  • Transform { # Second child - a red sphere
  • translation 3 0 1
  • children [
  • Shape {
  • geometry Sphere { radius 2.3 }
  • appearance Appearance {
  • material Material { diffuseColor 1 0 0 } # Red
some points of grammar
Some Points of Grammar
  • Files begin with
    • #VRML V2.0 utf8 [optional comment] <line terminator>
  • # begin comments
  • control characters, space double or single quotes, sharp, comma, period, brackets, backslash or braces are not allowed in names
  • First character can not be a digit, plus or minus