A New VRML Year

Dateline: 1/6/99


OK stop sipping that champagne and get back to work :-)

One of the great things about VRML is how no one is ever satisfied. The VRML Consortium is now the Web3D Consortium and 3D technologies of all sorts are simply exploding on the scene.

Some of the technologies are proprietary systems, some are file format based, and some are standard's based. What's the difference and why should you care?

Proprietary systems generally (this is overgeneralized of course) have superior performance because a single organization or even just a few people can craft a solution. They are also totally dependent on that organization or person. Feedback and the views of people outside the developing group are rarely heeded in this type of process.

According to a Dec. 15th press release:

The VRML Consortium today announced that its membership has ratified an expanded charter to include multiple technologies for 3D on the Internet. Previously, the Consortium would only consider VRML-based proposals; but now the invitation is open for other technologies to be considered for standardization. The goal of the new charter is to create a suite of interoperating standards targeted at specific market segments. To reflect this new expanded charter, the consortium is now called the Web3D Consortium.

Some of the unspoken truths about this change are a need for more members and money. Any member supported organization with basically no outside revenue streams is going to have these problems especially given the desire to be inclusive rather than elite with exorbitant membership dues.

So what's next? The move towards other 3D Web technologies is not only a natural evolution it's inevitable. 3D Web technologies have NOT caught on in a widespread way YET. The reasons have nothing to do with VRML and its capabilities. 3D content is simply harder to author, harder to deliver, and requires more compute resources, typical 2D technologies. Interaction with 3D widgets and spaces is not as obvious and 3D interaction techniques are still very much a subject of research. The effort to reach out by the Web3D Consortium makes perfect sense from many aspects.

Also in the announcement:

The Web3D Consortium has also initiated an internal, fast-paced process to define an interoperable set of lightweight and extensible component 3D standards to flexibly address the needs of a wide range of Internet and broadcast applications. This process has the backing and support of key industry members and is expected to promote interoperability with standards such as DHTML, XML, DOM and MPEG-4 to encourage the ubiquitous deployment of reliable 3D content.

Interoperability with these other important efforts is vital to the ultimate success and ubiquity of 3D for the Web. If you can, join the Consortium and get in on the next wave of Web 3D technologies.

One Year Ago in Focus on Web3D VRML becomes an International Standard

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