VRML is due for another makeover but this time things seem to be a little for considered and more controlled. The primary issue the Web3D Consortium is dealing with these days is X3D. The best place for info on X3D happenings is the consortium web site under the X3D Task Group section.
X3D represents the next generation of VRML, (and has been called VRML-NG...with apologies to Star Trek). A recently published Road Map illustrates the stages of evolution. It's important to note that by the year 2002 the intent is to merge X3D and VRML97 into one entity called VRML2002 which will go forward to ISO as the next official version of the standard.
Plans and talk and consensus building and arguments abound and all don't mean crap without real code. That's why the most hopeful aspect about all the new developments are the new demos produced by Shout Interactive and Blaxxun that show the preliminary functionality of their X3D proposals. In addition newObjectivity and Draw Computing have also put forward proposals.
One of the driving forces behind all the effort is the indefatigeable Don Brutzman. Don a member of both the Board of Directors and the Technical Advisory Board lives and breaths this stuff. Check out his recent presentation to the members. In addition there are a number of highly informative links available at the Consortium's X3D Talk Group page...if you're interested check em out! Better yet volunteer for some work! The hypermail archive of the ongoing active discussions are a great way of getting info that is up-to-date.
There is of course a huge amount of work involved in this effort and yet to be accomplished. Personally I more hopeful than I have been in a long time because of the clear evidence of actual work being produced. Aside from simply improving the stability and ubiquity of it all new important features like NURBS, multitexturing and particle sets are being developed.
Finally rumor has it that Marjorie Stave of NYVRMLSIG fame has agreed to assume the role of X3D Evangelist. Watch out she'll be after ya ;-)
One Year Ago in Focus on Web3D (VRML) About.com's VRML97 Browser Datasheet
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