Web enhanced information virtualization
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WHIM S2008. Web-Enhanced Information Virtualization. An Overview of Web-Based 3D Computer Graphics Standards. Why do we need it. Encapsulate computing resources from the user Provide a simplified interface to enhance usability. 2D vs. 3D. Decade-long debate

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Web enhanced information virtualization



Web-EnhancedInformation Virtualization

An Overview of Web-Based

3D Computer Graphics Standards

Why do we need it
Why do we need it

  • Encapsulate computing resources from the user

  • Provide a simplified interface to enhance usability

2d vs 3d
2D vs. 3D

  • Decade-long debate

    2D: Takes less power to compute, easier to encode and transmit;

    But generally less expressive and compelling, viewer perspective limited by the dimension to the creators’ own

    3D: More difficult to model;

    But easier to manipulate from multiple perspectives and animate more realistic motions.

Standard artifact vrml
Standard Artifact: VRML

  • Virtual Reality Modeling Language, originally named as “VR Markup Language”

  • A standard for presenting 3D interactive vector graphics

  • Designed for WWW context

Format of vrml
Format of VRML

  • Uses text to describe vertices and edges of 3D polygons, along with the texture information (mapping, surface color, shininess, etc).

  • URL can be associated with any graphical component

  • Aspects of the virtual world (lighting, sounds, etc) can be included in the world file (.wrl) to interact with the user or external events

  • Support embedded Java or JavaScript code for event-handling.

Code segment of a vrml file
Code Segment of a VRML file

#VRML V2.0 utf8

WorldInfo {

title “Just a sample“

info [“ for Apr.29 WHIM presentation"“ks2555@columbia.com"]


Transform {

translation 0 2.25 0

children [

Shape {

appearance Appearance {

texture ImageTexture { url "me.jpg" }


geometry Sphere { radius 0.75 }




History of vrml
History of VRML

Birth: First proposed in a paper submitted to the First International Conference on World Wide Web

Popularization: Revamped as VRML 97; established as an ISO standard; became widely used, particularly for education and research area.

CyberTown.com’s 3D chat application developped by Blaxxun Software in VRML97 standard

History of vrml1
History of VRML


“VRML was born dead. It never solved any real problems. Good riddance.”

--Clay Shirky, on the WWW Artist Consortium mailing list

“No integration with HTML, They were too busy getting the 3D to work.”

--Chris Phillips, director of business development and multimedia at Microsoft

Central idea of these criticism is: VRML gets the job done on 3D part, but its spec is locked, thus there is no easy way to integrate or extend it.

Web enhanced information virtualization

  • The successor of VRML, from Web3D Consortium

  • XML-Based

  • First approved by ISO in 2004

  • Defines several sets of extensions for different purposes

    • Core set

    • Interchange

    • CAD

    • Geospatial

    • Immersive

  • Browser makers can define their own extensions and submit to Web3DC for standardization

X3d s improvement over vrml
X3D’s Improvement over VRML

Multiple data encodings

New graphics features

New networking features

Improved APIs, more language/object model bindings


MPEG-4 has streaming interactive 3D using VRML

Interaction model
Interaction Model

Add Your Text



Cycle name




Data encoded in x3d
Data Encoded in X3D

  • Sample Java Applet 3D Model Viewer embedded in the html page

Development enviorment
Development Enviorment

  • Xj3D: a Java based developer X3D Toolkit and browser for data modelled in X3D


  • X3D is a relative junior standard

  • There are some other competing standards (e.g. COLLADA) alternative to X3D

  • X3D’s promising for 3D Web Publishing, durability and full potential yet to be seen