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Blaxxun VRML Browser Source Released 64

Cave Newt writes "The Web3D Consortium just released the source code to Blaxxun's CC3D VRML browser, which Blaxxun kindly donated in order to seed the development of a fully conformant, completely open and preferably multi-platform VRML browser. Pretty darned cool. "
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Blaxxun VRML Browser Source Released

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  • I'll be one of the first to admit that the license is less then ideal. Plenty of lawyer-speak. That said, I think the code will provide a useful service. At minimum it will provide the best documentation ever provided for a fully functional browser: the source. I think it will do more then that, but even at that level it helps. Well see what the communities response is.

    Your coverage of banned places is too large. The places banned are the ones on the US export control list. The Blaxxun folks are just covering their tails with this sort of language. The reality is that the source is out there. How well does this restriction work for PGP? Here is the text of that part:

    2.3 U.S. Export Restrictions. Web3D acknowledges that the Code and all related technical information, documents and materials are subject to export controls under the U.S. Export Administration Regulations. In connection with its rights hereunder, Web3D will: (a) comply strictly with all legal requirements established under these controls; (b) cooperate fully with blaxxun in any official or unofficial audit or inspection that relates to these controls; and (c) not export, re-export, divert or transfer, directly or indirectly, any such item or direct products thereof to Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria or any national thereof or to any country or national thereof that is embargoed by Executive Order, unless Web3D has obtained the prior written authorization of blaxxun and the U.S. Commerce Department. Upon notice to Web3D, blaxxun may modify this list to conform to changes in the U.S. Export Administration Regulations.

    -Alan Hudson
    Chair Source Code Management Task Group
    www.web3d.org/TaskGroups/source [web3d.org]

  • That company was started 4 years ago, telling everyone that within a year or two, all e-commerce would be done in 3D-"virtual reality" worlds, with users interacting through "avatars" (are they still using that term today?). Now, when buying a book on Amazon, where's the need for a 3D-world?

    Like every Internet-related startup, they had their followers in the beginning, but now, after 4 years, what have they achieved? Is anybody seriously using their stuff? Are they making any real money? Heck, they don't even have any noticeable press covering recently! And that's where "Open Source" comes into play. It won't save that company, but at least it created some press echo again.

  • The banned list is from Appendix A, section 2.1. It seems pretty clear that the countries I mentioned are the only ones that may legally download the source code. From the license:

    2.1 The Web3D Consortium grants to you ?Licensee? a non-transferable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, limited license to use a copy of the VRML COMPONENT CODE in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and the European Union, exclusively for non-commercial use in connection with research and development. Licensee acquires no right, title or interest in or to the Licensed VRML COMPONENT CODE other than the limited rights granted in this License. All modifications, enhancements and bug fixes made by or for Licensee to the Licensed VRML COMPONENT CODE may not be offered for sale or reuse without including notification of all pertaining copyrights retained by copyright owners, including blaxxun interactive.
  • All the 3D authoring apps support VRML import and export. VRML is very successfult for that. All the 3D authoring vendors are scared as hell that their own proprietary formats will be usurped by a open source format. That is why VRML is still alive and that is why it is being silently but actively fought against by the 800 pound 3D authoring companies. Open formats ultimately will prevail. Stay tuned :-)
  • Hmmm... I was looking at 2.1 of the main body. This was in the Appendix A. Maybe they made a mistake and didn't modify the Appendix... I'll check, but I would agree that its strange to limit the countries in that way. I vaguely(read not really but...) understand obeying the US export saws for tech transfer but I can't understand a blanket statement like that.

    Will check into it. Thank you. I hate reading legalize!

  • It makes you wonder, have the VRML guys ever actually SEEN Quake?

    Playfulness in 3D spaces [shirky.com] - Why Quake, written to scratch an itch, is so much better than VRML, a solution in search of a problem, and what to do about i

  • I went to a day-long workshop at CASCON'97 which dealt with the use of communities in ecommerce. I'd think that VRML, intelligently used (and with properly wide net connections), would provide an excellent platform for ecommerce situations.

    Not that this is entirely good news for everyone (especially the segment of /.ers that looks down their nose at ecommerce), but a VR world has the capacity to be quite engaging, to build community and allow for both synchronous and asynchronous interaction.

    No doubt people who want to sell us stuff (whether it's advertising pageviews - yes, those are bought and sold - or conventional goods and services) will jump on the bandwagon, since the longer they can keep you there means the longer that they have to pitch to you - and that means greater sales.

    --
  • >The site: www.cosmosoftware.com has been
    >down for months.


    Like any large organisation, CAI (who own Cosmo Player now) has lots of people in it working on
    different things in different ways.
    It does seem like VRML is Too Open for some people
    there right now (or something), but others are
    working hard to get cosmosoftware back up again.

    In the meantime, I run a mirror at www.karmanaut.com/cosmo/player/ [karmanaut.com]. I host versions for Mac and Windoze, and link to SGI for the IRIX version. Sure, it's a 3 MB download, but what do you expect for cyberspace? This is a bigger deal than some HTML parser, kids. How big is Q3Test for Linux? 33MB? I agree that crowbarring cyberspace into a browser plugin is a stupid idea - but we've got to start somewhere.

    Where we go next is for another post ;)
  • Im still waiting for the day when ActiveWorlds http://www.activeworlds.com ports their browser to linuX. They have the server (like usual) but no client. I used to be into 3d/2d and VRML, I learned VRML1.0 and it was a big hype for a while, but then faded quick. Blaxxun actually used to be BlackSun interactive but got bought out.
  • I started this, so I feel obligated to make a few comments.

    First, while some of the license provisions are regrettable (most notably the ones that effectively exclude South America and much of Asia), the fact remains that just about any source is better than no source. There are plenty of people for whom having a professionally coded, general-purpose, 3D code base will be a huge boon regardless of the license provisions. For everyone else, the situation really hasn't gotten any worse--and yes, I am taking into account the other, truly Open Source VRML projects like Chris Morley's LibVRML97/lookat browser. I don't see a license like this drawing away more than a tiny trickle of OSS developers, if even that.

    Second, while VRML certainly never took the world by storm and is distinctly less lively now than it was at its height a couple of years ago, it remains a very useful tool for prototyping, displaying and exchanging 3D objects. I've used it at work to create quick, animated mockups of internal projects, and at home to explore what an addition to my house might look like. I even used it to demonstrate some trig functions once. Was it necessary for that? No, but the ability to zoom way, way out really got the point across about asymptotes and infinities. Some of the best content I've ever seen has been 3D scientific visualizations--hurricanes, planetary magnetospheres, USGS elevation data, Mars Pathfinder, Tenochtitlan, you name it. And Floops, Driftwood, Dilbert and MODvr [modvr.com] may never have had big audiences, but they were more compelling than almost any other content I've seen on the Net.

    Finally, if you're looking for Snow Crash-like VR, there's no question that something like ActiveWorlds comes much closer to the mark than just about anything in VRML--if only because of the vast scale [vevo.com] that's possible in a database-driven, custom 3D application like AW. But don't hold your breath waiting for a Linux client. The company only has a few developers, and last I checked, everything was very tightly tied to RenderWare. Possibly there's a Linux port of that (RW) in the works, but I haven't heard about it.

    Anyway, while I don't think too much of the current Web3D efforts to create a VRML successor (X3D), I do appreciate that they've managed to get some source code out. Yes, it would be a whole lot cooler with a real OSS license (NPL, say), but it's a reasonable first step. And who knows, maybe blaxxun will ease up on the terms after getting some constructive (i.e., non-flaming) feedback. One can hope.

    Greg Roelofs

  • Nice to see people giving more stuff to the world.
  • by reverse solidus ( 30707 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @09:39AM (#1639649) Homepage
    It's yet another "Community Source" license. Lots of interesting little twists, though, including a ban on using the source code outside the USA, Eurpoean Union, Australia, and Japan. The rest of the world is SOL. There's an especially amusing addendum to the license that makes the Web3d consortium thought police for Blaxxun. Check out:
    EUA [web3d.org], Web3d/Blaxxun Agreement [web3d.org], Amusing addendum [web3d.org]
  • Subject says it all.
    I was so excited that Cosmo's software and
    source were going to be released, then SGI
    sold them to Platinum, then Platinum got
    bought out, and I was stuck without a good
    VRML authoring kit.
    It's good the the Blaxxun source is published.
    It'll mean better vrml browsers on any platform
    that has open source coders. Blaxxun's software
    seems pretty good, but I don't have much
    experience with it.
    I'm just glad that SOMETHING is happening in the
    VRML world.
    J05H
  • by warmi ( 13527 )
    It is nice of them to release the source code but, to tell the truth, I have never seen anyone use VRML outside of sites of people who either develop or are somehow connected with VRLM. One can find JavaScript, Java, Flash and similar technologies all over the Internet - not so with VRML.
    Can we finally say, the technology did not work out, forget it, try something else... ?
  • by kbonin ( 58917 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @10:08AM (#1639652) Homepage
    The Web3D Consortium is "cooperating" with yet another for-profit entity, in this case Blaxxun. The source is not open, in fact the "community license" and addendum terms are one of the most restrictive yet released.

    Blaxxun probably released it in an attempt to subvert mindshare away from the OpenVRML group and others now starting up that want to make a truly open source VRML browser.

    As for "the Web3D Consortium", they will cut a deal with anyone who will pay their bills or keep them in the drivers seat in behalf of their corporate sponsors: Microsoft, Blaxxun, SGI, Sony, Apple, ect.

    They had lofty goals. Politics and money have made it impossible for any of them to be acheived. This deal is no exception.

  • by rmull ( 26174 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @09:44AM (#1639653) Homepage
    I have yet to see a single good use for VRML. This may be due to the fact that there aren't any good browsers for linux, but i've seldom run across anything other than a novelty site that even has VRML on it. Though I'm sure I'll be proved wrong...
  • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @10:16AM (#1639654) Homepage
    I'm surprised by so many "hey, wasn't VRML that thing that didn't work out?" comments here.

    Yes, VRML was overhyped to the maximum, so much that most everyone started hating it; but if you consider it, VRML _is_ a good idea done _right_.

    Just think of today's market in consumer computer graphics. Current low-cost graphics cards for standard PCs have the 3D processing power that was exclusively available to high end graphics workstations only a very short time ago. The vast majority of today's computers are equipped with 3D graphics cards. And the only product research made by graphics card manufacturers is in the 3D sector.

    And of course the games market, that is driving this technology. There is practically _no_ 2D game available today. When I first saw Doom-like first person shooters, I never expected to see games like we have today - I too thought that 3D was "just a trend".

    I'm pretty sure that there will be a need for 3D in internet applications and I am glad that VRML is here already as a working solution. It's not as important as its inventors claimed it would be, but it's certainly more than "just a trend" and surely more than a failure.
  • ...but I tend to place VRML on that wonderful scrapheap that includes Push Technology, Home Video Phones, DIVX, Betamax, and other overhyped but ultimately rejected technologies.
  • by incubus ( 9714 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @10:30AM (#1639658)
    I spent quite a bit of time looking at VRML.
    In a word, it sucks and here's why.
    The concept behind VRML is exactly that of HTML. It's a markup language. While this is sufficient for stuff you read and browse through, it's not sufficient for an interactive environment.
    VRML comes in world files which generally have a .wrl extension. Typically this 'world' is loaded into your VRML browser, and then rendered as appropriate.
    If you hit a particular link, it loads up another .wrl file from the server and sends ya over there.

    While this method is fine for web pages.. it's *not* fine for an interactive 3D environment. That's the problem... you need something more interactive than a highly-static format.

    There are *some* facilities for doing things dynamically with VRML, but from what I saw, they were mainly hacks with javascript etc that look like they weren't really planned during the original design.

    The sum of this analysis is that taking what works for web browsing and just 'doing it in 3D' is not the right philosophy.

    Here's a fair example, you can't do anything dynamic that would require changes to the wrl file loaded in the browser. To do that.. you have to reload the wrl file... which is unreasonable.
    Almost any sort of behavior the objects you create are going to have... has to be predefined in the .wrl file. (I said almost).

    VRML is unpopular for a reason.
  • Assuming this event kick-starts a wave of VRML development now that hackers can play with source, what's there to do with it? Build it into some games? I'm not trying to poor-mouth Blaxxun; I just don't see why people will think this is will lead to delivery of cooler 3-D imagery over the Net. Correct my ignorance, please.

  • Ok, I went to Netscapes plugin list to get
    VRML.

    Has a listing for WIRL by Vream.

    tried the link to example virtual worlds
    pulled up a porn site, and I'm at work!
    damn, damn I say

    I guess vREAM appealed to the new URL owner.
  • VRML was released quite some time ago, and as distressing as it is, the people once again have been lead astray. Why are things efficient only when the rest of the world uses it? VRML would have been one of the biggest break throughs in internet publishing, but what happened? I think the grasp of the marketting giants choked it to death. More than 4 years ago I purchased a book that taught me how to develope VRML, and I figured within about a year, that's all I'd see... so why not? What happened? We can't cope with Virtual Reality?

    At some point in time I lost line of VRML. It became a nothing. I was too consumed with the latest version of HTML and the most up to date browsers that, not surprisingly, have created their own versions of HTML. Why when something is multi-platform do they have to tinker with it so that it truely isn't? Are they showing us who's boss? VRML should have been a break though... but it was a flop. It's all about marketting... or maybe it's just that people aren't ready... most people never are so I think the most logical would be the best answer.

    This stuff is old new... throwing a bunch of kindling into the fire that went out won't start it up again.

  • Actually, no. You aren't required to contribute your changes back into the source pool. If you drop them a letter, make sure you read the license very carefully first, or any legitimate problems will get lost in the noise.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    VRML is a fairly pointless technology (or lack thereof). It makes you wonder, have the VRML guys ever actually SEEN Quake?

    What, exactly, is VRML supposed to accomplish?
  • Not all too true.

    I think some advancements in vrml technology will come in time just like java technology.

    higher bandwidth is the best breath of air for VRML, but also maybe following along with the Jar format, where you download a wrl container and work as an Object, or download a group of containers and work as a scene.

    If someone released a true "open sourced" vrml, then i'm sure it could be dropped into mozilla as a library rather then an external plugin.

    working in a manufacturing environment, and building maintenance would be a dream come true. click through your project, and not have to load up your cad software, or simply walk through the building and have temperatures show up, and what staff is in each room, who's logged in/punched in and such. Since most of this is controlled from a computer, why not use VRML and html and javascript to represent your building as a scene and let you click through instead of constantly walking around.. with javascript you could add triggars, alarms and do whatever you heart desires.

    just some ideas, but vrml has its place, if you think of it as a modeling language and not simply html sending you a 3d picture.

  • how could anyone really think vrml would take off given the large data sets it required (for anything useful) that is.... here's a company that's thinking in the right direction... http://www.perilith.com/projects/

    I'm afraid while lot's of people where poring over the latest vrml specs (myself included) they might just have seen the flash out of the corner of their eyes of game companies creating realtime 3d game engines that are turning the game business ( and more traditional business ) on it's head.

  • ohh and this one as well...
    http://www.unrealty.net/vsmm99/

  • This is one of the apps i have been missing badly for a long time.

    Despite what many people think, VRML2 is actually a pretty advanced, extensible and downright useful file format.

    It is node-based and therefore supports complex activity. The way VRML 2 works reminds me a lot of the way high-end 3D programs like Maya are architected.

    While i haven't used it much recently (since i haven't been able to get a browser for Linux), i think it is actually a really good foundation for a pervasive 3D imaging model.

    It is based on ASCII text, which might make some of the hardcore go 'pfft', but theres no reason that it can't incorporate binary file formats, like BSP trees using EXTERNPROTOs.. the code to handle the binary data, if it is defined in the EXTERNPROTO can be dynamically loaded at runtime, that is a VRML browser can be extended in any way you like through a standard, documented mechanism.

    take a look at what LivePicture did with their Panoramas - these were implemented as VRML2 EXTERNPROTOs, which were displayed in a cut-down VRML2 browser, and if they had finsihed what they started, this type of object (now very popular) could have been displayed without any extra effort by all compliant VRML2 browsers.

    While the Quake/Unreal game engines are wonderful things, which support excellent performance, they are limited in many ways, and just aren't as approachable to the newbie as VRML2 is.

    I can sit down and build a VRML2 world in an ASCII text editor, its a much more daunting task to make a Quake Level, even with emacs ;)

    Anyway, i strongly support this move, but would call for Blaxxun to go GPL goddamnit. All these 'Community Source' licenses just make developers nervous.

    The GPL protects Blaxxun, by making sure their competitors can't directly profit (in a financial sense) from your generosity and effort. Plus, they get to say they were the first to support a truly open and cross-platform web standard. VRML won't go anywhere without a community, and if they want adoption by the Linux community, then i'd say the only way is with the GPL.

    Otherwise, this will just incite the GNU people to write a truly free alternative e.g. GNOME vs KDE, and lets face it, nobody really wants to see another attempt to reinvent the VRML browser.

    my 2c







  • This is one of the apps i have been missing badly for a long time.



    Despite what many people think, VRML2 is actually a pretty advanced, extensible and downright useful file format.



    It is node-based and therefore supports complex activity. The way VRML 2 works reminds me a lot of the way high-end 3D programs like Maya are architected.



    While i haven't used it much recently (since i haven't been able to get a browser for Linux), i think it is actually a really good foundation for a pervasive 3D imaging model.



    It is based on ASCII text, which might make some of the hardcore go 'pfft', but theres no reason that it can't incorporate binary file formats, like BSP trees using EXTERNPROTOs.. the code to handle the binary data, if it is defined in the EXTERNPROTO can be dynamically loaded at runtime, that is a VRML browser can be extended in any way you like through a standard, documented mechanism.



    take a look at what LivePicture did with their Panoramas - these were implemented as VRML2 EXTERNPROTOs, which were displayed in a cut-down VRML2 browser, and if they had finsihed what they started, this type of object (now very popular) could have been displayed without any extra effort by all compliant VRML2 browsers.



    While the Quake/Unreal game engines are wonderful things, which support excellent performance, they are limited in many ways, and just aren't as approachable to the newbie as VRML2 is.



    I can sit down and build a VRML2 world in an ASCII text editor, its a much more daunting task to make a Quake Level, even with emacs ;)



    Anyway, i strongly support this move, but would call for Blaxxun to go GPL goddamnit. All these 'Community Source' licenses just make developers nervous.



    The GPL protects Blaxxun, by making sure their competitors can't directly profit (in a financial sense) from your generosity and effort. Plus, they get to say they were the first to support a truly open and cross-platform web standard. VRML won't go anywhere without a community, and if they want adoption by the Linux community, then i'd say the only way is with the GPL.



    Otherwise, this will just incite the GNU people to write a truly free alternative e.g. GNOME vs KDE, and lets face it, nobody really wants to see another attempt to reinvent the VRML browser.



    my 2c















  • I believe that I read somewhere that Silicon Graphics (before they were SGI) wrote a 3D-Web Based-stock-price-analysis (Wow, buzzwords plus) thing in VRML that the New York Stock Exchange liked so much they bought.

    It would be pretty cool... Neuromancer like.

  • That wasn't a useful point at all.

    You don't blame manufacturers of kitchen knives for domestic murder. A nuclear missile can be used to deflect an Earth-destroying asteroid as well as to perform genocide.

    The technology is neutral. Where blame is required, place it where it is due, squarely on the people that put technology to bad use.
  • I've always found VRML to be the 3D equivalent of HTML; Give somone a document in HTML and you know they are going to be able to view it, no matter what OS they are using. Same thing for VRML if you need to share 3D objects. As was mentioned above, it is especially useful for scientific visualisation, especially when you can never be sure that your collaborators are using the same modelling/visualisation package as you are. Think of it as a lowest common denomenator.


    (shameless plug): I've got some VRML molecules on my web page
    http://www.biochemistry.bham.ac.uk/gcoates/resea rch.html
  • Two words: "Snow Crash"

    3D is destined to become a major part of the 'net. VRML is poorly suited for anything better than novelty worlds, but much of the idea behind it is good. Once someone creates a language/protocol with real interactivity, then things will start happending, fast. But this is an important first step toward growing the VR user base to critical mass. If anything VRML-like is to suceed, it needs a better implementation than a web browser plug-in.

    -- mblagusz@DELETEMEalleg.edu

  • The applications of VRML I've seen tend to be a bit weak on content. I'm not really sure if it is a problem inherent with VRML or simply the development of VRML applications. I think it is great to have a 3D interface standard that can easily plug into, say OpenGL, but I'm not sure this has the features to really move the field. How is this solution going to change this perception? Can it?

    -- Moondog
  • I agree there are some purposes for which VRML is okay. But I think that something better than VRML would also have this capability.

    Another example, is the near impossibility of having a chat-type application in VRML. I want an object in my wrl file to have a socket associated with it etc.

    Another beef I had with VRML is the emphasis on javascript.... I don't have any bones to pick with javascript, but I just don't think it'll go anywhere without working with perl in a nice integrated fashion.

    Several 'experts' have recommended that I look at Java3D for future applications. This comes from some of the very few people out there who do have VRML sites.

    Does it work on linux? I dunno.. when I get up the strength to make another foray into the 3D world... I'll try it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I really don't feel like creating an account so "coward" it is. I quickly got excited about the Blaxxun announcement because the freaks that keep playing hot potato with Cosmo seem to treat it like a perverted uncle. I didn't think we were the only ones leveraging existing 3D content with VRML but from the sounds of it, we might be...

    Armed with a simple IE5 browser, a CosmoPlayer plug-in and the login info below, you can say, "oh, yeah, ok, I guess that works"

    http://cap.sweets.com
    CAP Products>>Offices Online>>Demo

    user: pmoore-d
    pass: cap

    Add some stuff to the cart, click on its teeny graphic, choose the 3D button(pause for plug-in), click in the viewer to fling it around...

    I'd be interested in your complaints-
    paul_moore@mcgraw-hill.com

    For another approach(not VRML) try:
    styleclick.com
    eonreality.com
  • by biot ( 12537 )
    It's great to see the Blaxxun people finally come to their senses. I've been mailing them every year for some three years running now, asking about Linux support.

    BTW, The Blaxxun community server was ported to Linux YEARS ago, and they were always very upfront about it, recommending the Linux version over the NT version.
  • Ahhh consipracy theories, greed, and more... all we need is a little good sex...for some more reasoned thoughts on blaxxun and this deal check out

    http://web3d.about.com/library/weekly/aa100699.htm

    Sandy Ressler
    (Web3D Guide for About.com)

  • I have to say I can't quite agree with you in thinking that everything is (and should) move to 3D. While games are probably the sector to most benifit from a 3D view, some have been hindered by it. Take Daggerfall for example. It was a brilliant concept of a truly non-linear RPG, but it was ruined by a cumbersome 3D interface that made the dungeons hellishly tedious. It would have been much better served by an isometric view.

    Oh, speaking of isometric views... you say, "There is practically _no_ 2D game available today"? I would point out that the best selling game (both recently, and ever) is Starcraft... very 2D. The same can be said for Diablo, CIV(all of them), and many others. They are good games because they focus more on ease of user interface, and playability than eye-candy. Because of this, they all out sold Wolfenstein, and they all out sold Quake.

    Now, for those of you who may have suffered at the hands of unnecessarily 3D games (i.e Daggerfall), how would you feel about being unable to see the relevant portions of your web page or spreadsheet, without having to rotate it just so? I personally hate that sort of thing. So while VRML may be pretty cool, I sure doubt it will be replacing 2D web browsing anytime soon.
  • I didn't say that everything should be 3D. I sure hope it won't. But there is far more 3D used today than I ever expected.
  • FYI - There are other people working on free 3d Tech .. under much less restrictive licenses that the blaxxun people - in fact some have postulated that the blaxxun source release was infact made in reponse to the Gel release at siggraph, so its suprising to see no mention of Gel here. Gel - http://gel.urstudios.com (moving soon to http://www.gel3d.org) is "intended as a set of technology for implementing new and interesting things - not as a set of protocols". It takes a very different approach from VRML in very many fields (peer-peer networking, etc), but it would certainly be practical to implement a VRML browser using the technology. The license is also extraordinarly unrestrictive.
  • (Shout3d is basically a 3-d viewer in Java that you can write scripts for inside the Java. Its Only about 40k and there's none of those huge downloads like the 5mb+ for VRML viwers. [THAT was the real reason VRML was never used widely. BESIDES the fact it never even worked on my computer.]) Anyway, VRML was a really cool idea, but it had its problems. Among those already remarked is of course, capitalism, which the USA has exceded greatly in converting the world to(except for some Moslims...and what countries do we have the most problems with?). Another was the fact it was static and the bastards couldn't be changed. Finally, learning is just too hard for common fools. Did you see any "basic editors" lying around the web for VRML scripts? Without those for HTML, betcha 50% of the web wouldn't be here (not that we would actually miss most of 'em anyhow). Yeah, yeah, flash don't have any basic editors, but the download was only a meg and the stuff you could do with it compared to html is/was tremendous. Guaranteed you make an "basic editor" in which you submit 2 or 3 pictures, make a 3-d image (can't think of a better word), and post it freely (and without legal repercussions) would skyrocket VRML usage. (all it would take is ONE of those damned AOL forwards--look at hamsterdance.com). Law or World #2 - Anybody will go with any sceme if it allows them to be both more comfortable AND lazy. 'nough of ranting. Anyhow, VRML is a dirty word now and making the source-code from blaxxum open-source don't wake this corpse. Probably, blaxxum just wanted to see if they could pull off a little revival before WEb3d consortium(BTW why don't they just say group? Do all "educated" people feel the need to make long words?) makes another company's plan the official VRML environment. BTW the VRML name is being changed to X3d. -Keirian "If Finnish people can talk while they breath in(you gotta see this), I can rant while I."
  • No Mac browser for a long time (and this still applies)

    Overhyped. A bit more complex than it needed to be.

    MS hype about thier 3d interface, which now no longer exists.

    I don't see it for games, games have thier own high-performance 3d engines.
    Chat. 3D chat. Hype.

    Science and Art. Yes.

    It is a really good file format. You can make prototypes with real world names so that groups of users can write vrml by hand (or by script).

    I don't want to write in Java3d. I want to write the visualizations.

    The X3d will hopefully lower some of the requirements.
  • Lets look at what you said:

    The concept behind VRML is exactly that of HTML. It's a markup language

    It's not a markup language. The 'M' in VRML is 'Modeling'. Virtual Reality Modeling Laguage. What would it mark-up? It began as a standard way to describe objects in 3D and proceeded from there. Proceeded a lot, actually.

    There are *some* facilities for doing things dynamically with VRML, but from what I saw, they were mainly hacks with javascript etc that look like they weren't really planned during the original design

    This isn't the case either. VRML's design has the basic things that you need to get things done in 3d: interpolators, sensors for spherical, planar, and cylindrical mouse movement, collision sensors, proximity sensors, time sensors and more, nicely set up in an event-driven model. Many interactions don't even require any code. Map a plane sensor to a position interpolator and you can move things around by clicking and dragging.

    Now while its true that VRML does not have its own programming language, it does provide a specific interface to code 'bits', the SCRIPT node. This is as designed, mostly because VRML existed before Java was really strong. Some people use javascript (yuck, but simple) some folks use Java, some use C++, but if your browser supported it (a big if) you could use perl or smalltalk or anything. Kind of nice, in my opinion.

    Here's a fair example, you can't do anything dynamic that would require changes to the wrl file loaded in the browser

    This just isn't true. Your code nodes (in whatever language) can add and remove things from the scene at will, resize them, move their individual points to morph them, etc.

    I believe you must've looked at the early VRML, VRML 1.0. This is equivalent to looking at the first release of Java and saying, "oh, its all bollocks" and never looking again.

    So why isn't VRML the next big thing? Well, there's several theories, Blaxxun's attacking the most widely held: no good browsers. Java's the de facto standard for scripting info in a VRML browser, and there are all kinds of interesting things you could do, but almost no browser completely supports the VRML97 specification AND the Java specification. There are VRML browsers written using Java3D, but they are largely incomplete, and a bit slow.

    Some folks have also said that VRML is something of a solution in search of a problem. What would you do with VRML on the web? Yeah, there's lots of cool stuff, but very few of them pay well, and others (like online gaming) require fast, efficient browsers, and really don't benefit from the openness of the standard.

    Zipwow

  • by Anonymous Coward
    near impossibility? [uwaterloo.ca]
  • VRML actually stands for Virtual Reality Modelling Language, not Markup Language. Just a little thing.
  • - When it first came out the penetration of 3d accelerated hardware was minimal
    - Downloads were slow when VRML first arrived - I remember the huge difference when I first tried VRML on an SGI on an ethernet.
    - Any idiot can write text to make a HTML file, 3d stuff is much harder
    - It's not well integrated with the browser: few will use it if it requires a 4MB download (and reboot under windows).
    - So far the only real applications of 3d are games, modelling, and CGI for movies. Hopefully someone can come up with a decent 3d interface. Part of this is also the development of a good 3d manipulator - the 3d version of the mouse.

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