An Introduction to Web3D

Dateline: 2/16/00

With the continuing changes in the world of 3D graphics and the Web it seems like a good time to stop and introduce newcomers to Web3D. Web3D is a strange term because in may respects there is no specific thing as "Web3D". There is no Web3D browser, and no Web3D piece of software. Confused? Good read on!

Web3D is a generic term. I use Web3D as term to describe technology to display 3D computer graphics on Web sites. VRML, the Virtual Reality Modeling Language is a file format standard, (an international standard) from which Web3D was born. To confuse matters even more, there is the Web3D Consortium, formerly known as the VRML Consortium. Its mission is to sheppard the continuing development of VRML through the ISO standardization process and to provide a forum for industry to collaborate on the technical developments of the standard. The goal is to provide mechanisms for ubiquitous 3D on the Web.

But back to basics. To see 3D in your Web browser you first need a 3D browser, typically a VRML browser. These browsers are plug-ins that work with your Web browser. Plug-ins might go away, more on that on the following page. To see a lot of examples of Web3D, primarily VRML, go to my Web3D Applications Gallery. There are pages for business, education, scientific, entertainment and more applications. If you don't already have a VRML browser go get one. They are FREE and easy to install. I'd recommed either blaxxun's Contact or ParallelGraphics Cortona if you're on a PC with Windows or CosmoPlayer if you're on a Mac.

There is an exploding array of technologies being developed mostly proprietary to display 3D on the Web. Just check out the Web3D Technologies page on this site for a listing of over 35 different systems. Each focuses on slightly different aspects of the overall problem or takes a different approach.

X3D and Beyond >Page 1, 2