PLATINUM Releases CosmoPlayer Source

Dateline: 3/17/99

Big news...CosmoPlayer source will be available for any type of use you want, noncommercial or commercial, no encumberences! This amazing development was announce on Monday 3/15/99 a day which will hopefully go down in VRML history as the beginning of the next wave of 3D on the web.

Tony Parisi, Vice President, Business Development, Internet Commerce Business Unit of PLATINUM sent the following email (I added the links):


After much deliberation, PLATINUM and Web3D have decided that it is in the best interests of the community and the industry at large to release Cosmo Player into Open Source, without encumbrances, upon the initial donation of the code. This marks a change from the terms of the current PLATINUM/Web3D letter of intent, which ties to "opening" of the source to the delivery of the X3D standard. What this means for *you* is that, once the Player source is delivered (which is looking like about 60 days hence), you can do what you want with it, when you want to, wherever you like.

Initially, PLATINUM and Web3D management desired to model our Open Source program on the one in place at the World Wide Web Consortium ("W3C"). W3C is developing XHTML (nee "HTML-NG") as an Open Source offering, but are restricting access to W3D members only, until the standard is done. We originally thought that by adopting such a plan we could best avoid the fragmentation that comes with Open Source efforts-- even Linux, based on a very mature code base, is suffering from this now, BTW-- as well as drive X3D development by creating a very tangible incentive to get it done: finish the standard, and you get the code.

Given the recent events at PLATINUM as well as the community's unease over the way X3D has been handled to date, PLATINUM and Web3D management met recently to reevaluate this strategy. We concluded that the original strategy, while offering long-term conformance benefits and structuring a forward-looking implementation plan for X3D, would come at the sacrifice of the short-term benefit of galvanizing the entire community... not to mention that it would probably generate even more ill will and unease around X3D, which would be counter-productive in the extreme. So, we have decided that it is in everyone's best interest to "let it fly," or as Mark Pesce would say, let the "thousand flowers bloom." So be it!

Now, it's time for me to trade my PLATINUM hat for an industry Fez...


In my opinion, this is an extremely generous donation that PLATINUM is making. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by the industry to develop and maintain these technologies. Now, the world is getting access to this IP for free.

Let's don't squander this opportunity.

I hope that our worst fears of fragmentation do not come true. The community, the industry and Web3D must all work together to ensure that the Player source is properly managed going forward, and that it is subjected to sufficient quality control and conformance testing. Aaron Walsh is spearheading the creation of a Source Code Management Task Group within Web3D. This will be the place where policies, procedures, and hands-on work will get done. Aaron will be posting details shortly. I encourage you to join up. Till then, keep talking on [VOS] or [openvrml]. We'll do our best to roll those discussions into this task group when the time is right.

In addition, I hope that this development does not dis-incent people from working on X3D. Now that you can build your own custom extensions to Player and not have to pay a dime of license fees, what are you gonna do? Build non-standard extensions and not bother to submit to the X3D process? I certainly hope not; that way lies madness. In parallel with our decision to untether the Player source code, Web3D management has resolved to streamline the X3D process, open it up to greater numbers of designers and contributors, and re-engage a disenchanted community. I assure you that your complaints, criticisms and concerns have been heard by Web3D management, and that we plan to do things differently this year. *People* screwed up the X3D process; people can fix it. I ask you to keep the faith a little longer and, if you're out of the loop right now, get back in! No better time.

Finally, I hope that we pitch together as an industry to help out the fledgling startups who will no doubt emerge as the dust settles from this. In your haste to "get busy" with the source code, don't neglect that there's an enormous talent pool of ex-PLATINUM employees that can form the nexus of an Open Source-based re-invigoration of this industry. Let's help them help *us*.

Enough with the Call to Action; time for logistics...


The exact details of the Open Source license will be decided upon in the context of a Definitive Agreement between PLATINUM and Web3D. We intend to have this agreement completed by the upcoming Web3D member summit meeting on March 26th. We will try to circulate early drafts of this agreement to Web3D members before the summit in preparation for a vote. We expect that the first version of the Open Source Player code will be ready in mid-May.

Till then, if you would like more information on Open Source licenses in general, go to to see examples of licenses blessed by that group. We are leaning towards the BSD-style license, which is in many ways the least restrictive of the bunch.

Take Care,


It seems pretty clear that this is the best news VRML has had in a LONG time! Now it's up to the community to get its act together and produce the best 3D for the web possible. Stable VRML97 now and a next generation VRML as X3D soon. My we do live in interesting times!

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