VRML Whining has Stopped

Dateline: 10/14/98

A funny thing has happened recently on the VRML mailing list, life-blood of VRML - all the whining about the death of VRML has actually stopped! Discussion of late has moved on to the future of VRML also known as VRML-NG (next generation) or VRML-TNG (the next generation with no apologies to Star Trek).

The discussions about VRML-NG are covering a wide range of needs such as mechanism to extend the browser, a better event model and improved EAI, integration of database facilities, and the use of XML to describe meta-data. Much of these activities taking place in specific working groups as well as on the larger www-vrml list itself. Non-technical issues such a IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and the development of a content repository are progressing also via the IPR task group (hopefully short lived) and the Content Development Working Group.

Personally I find it very encouraging to hear people like Justin Couch (from the land down under) almost single handedly wrestle the VRML External Authoring Interface (EAI) to the ground as an EAI-NG is developed. Joining Justin is Chris Marrin (now at Sony) who has put forward a straw-man proposal called Emma which has instigated a lot of productive talk and thinking as all well thought out proposals should.

VRML being an International Standard has the requirement that changes of much significance must go though the ISO process. The EAI has been submitted and approved as a new work item and will eventually get ground though the ISO mill, which actually does improve quality and help issues of conformance.

So back to the title of this feature, the Whining has Stopped, and WHY is this happening? IMHO the improved business stability due to the purchase of CosmoSoftware and Intervista by PLATINUM technology is clearly responsible. CosmoSoftware formerly a subsidiary of SGI was the defacto corporate parent of VRML. SGI with numerous business problems of a much larger nature than VRML decided to set Cosmo free (as it were). PLATINUM having previously committed to the value of 3D on the desktop saw the opportunity for the acquisition of good software AND people grabbed it.

During this tumultuous period many in the VRML community were somewhat traumatized, careers were put in flux and the "Death of VRML" was widely discussed. Well VRML ain't dead. Serious commerce is being performed using VRML. Join the crowd and get to work...seems like lots of folks certainly have gotten that idea!

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