Web 3D

Introduction to Web 3D

In this component of the course we shall be looking in some detail at:

  • introductory examples of VRML, xVRML, Ajax3D, and X3D files displayed in stand-alone (Octaga, X3DGlutViewer, Alpharis) and browser-embedded (Flux) players
  • basic scripting of VRML and X3D in a text editor (e.g., Aptana, HTML-Kit, or Quanta+)
  • scene graphs for visualising and building 3D scenes (X3D-Edit, OpenSceneGraph)


Dredge, S. (2002). Web 3D. London: Lawrence King Publishing.

Web 3D without plugins

The <canvas> element and SVG
Using the Canvas
» http://developer.apple.com/documentation/AppleApplications/Conceptual /SafariJSProgTopics/Tasks/Canvas.html
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Canvas 3D Context
» http://wiki.mozilla.org/Canvas:3D
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

» http://www.abrahamjoffe.com.au/ben/canvascape/textures.htm
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Plugins and browsers

VRML Plugin and Browser Detector
» http://cic.nist.gov/vrml/vbdetect.html
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Octaga Player for VRML and X3D
» http://www.octaga.com
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Flux Player web browser plugin for X3D, CDF, VRML and MPEG-4
» http://www.mediamachines.com/products.html
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Cortona (VRML plugin for Windows and Mac)
» http://www.parallelgraphics.com/products/cortona/
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

CosmoPlayer (excellent VRML plugin for both Windows and Mac)
» http://www.karmanaut.com/cosmo/player/
[Link updated and viewed 17 March 2007]

FreeWRL (open source plug-in and stand-alone VRML 2.0 / X3D browser for Linux & Mac OS X)
» http://freewrl.sourceforge.net
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

MacLookat (a stand-alone VRML 2.0 browser for the Mac, useful for quickly viewing and testing your VRML97 models.)
» http://www.ia.hiof.no/~michaell/home/vr/mac/maclookat/
[Link updated and viewed 17 March 2007]

Scripting VRML & X3D in a text editor


Walsh, A.E & Bourges-Sévenier, M. (2001). Core Web3D. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall PTR.
» ... and the CoreWeb3D website

Ames, A.L., Nadeau, D.R. & Moreland, J.L. (1997). VRML 2.0 Sourcebook. New York: John Wiley. (Second edition.)

Pesce, M. (1995). VRML: Browsing and Building Cyberspace. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.


Extensible 3D: XML Meets VRML
» http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2003/08/06/x3d.html
[Link verified and viewed 23 Feb 2005]

VRML and X3D Tutorials from SwirlX3D
» http://www.swirlx3d.com/tutorials.htm
[Link verified and viewed 23 March 2006]

Daly Realism X3D tutorial (Powerpoint / web)
» http://www.realism.com/Web3D/x3d/Web3D-2000.html
[Link verified and viewed 23 Feb 2005]

3dlinks.com (select 'Tutorials' from left-hand menu)
» http://www.3dlinks.com
[Link verified and viewed 23 Feb 2005]

VRML97 (tutorials from SIGGRAPH98)
[Link verified and viewed 23 Feb 2005]

The Lighthouse VRML Interactive Tutorial (Minho University, Portugal)
» http://tom.di.uminho.pt/vrmltut/

VR Interactive Tutorial @ 3DTech
» http://www.fatech.com/tech/vrml/tutorial/

Modeling software


A listing of modeling shareware is published at 3dlinks.com:
» http://www.3dlinks.com/links.cfm?categoryid=1&subcategoryid=2
[Link verified and viewed 23 Feb 2005]


Blender -- exports VRML 2.0; X3D export available separately. (Open source; Linux, Solaris, Irix, Mac, PPCLinux, FreeBSD, BeOS, Win95/98/2000/NT/XP)
» http://www.blender3d.org/
[Link updated and viewed 17 March 2007]

RenderSoft VRML Editor 1.72
"RenderSoft VRML Editor is a freeware that allows you to quickly and easily create 3D logo animations in AVI format. ... Apart from object transformations such as moving, rotating and scale, it also supports textures and materials and WWW anchor. Using RenderSoft VRML Editor, everything you edit is reflected instantly on the screen. You can see the material of your object change instantly as you move the slider, or see the texture change immediately after you select an image. Beginners will find RenderSoft the ideal program to jump start VRML, while those accomplished in the VRML language will find it useful for visualizing and fine tuning their VRML web pages."
» http://pachome2.pacific.net.sg/~jupboo/index1.html
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

EQUINOX-3D (open source; Linux, Mac)
» http://www.equinox3d.com
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Geist3D (open source; Windows)
"Geist3D is a graphics engine complete with an integrated development environment. It combines an extensible Scene Graph API with a Petri Net runtime kernel, the Python interpreter, the ODE physics engine and the OpenGL 2.0 Shading Language."
» http://sourceforge.net/projects/geist3d/
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

SwirlX3D VRML and X3D Editor (Windows)
"SwirlX3D is a powerful X3D and VRML authoring environment that displays scenes as they are being built. X3D is an interactive 3D medium that is designed from communication over the internet. Not only does it contain a rich variety of geometry nodes, but it also supports animation through TimeSensor, interpolator and Script nodes. I also supports user interaction through sensor nodes. The graphical editing interface of SwirlX3D gives full access to the data structures in an X3D file and is able to preview the completed scene." Download and try out the fully-dunctional 30-day trial version.
» http://www.pinecoast.com/swirl3d.htm
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

OpenFX (Win95/98/2000/NT/XP)
» http://openfx.org
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Pharus 3D Builder (offline visual 3D editor) and INT3D System (online visual 3D editor) (free for non-commercial use)
» http://www.int3d.com/products.html
Sample models and scenes:
» http://www.int3d.com/scenes3d.html
[Link verified and viewed 14 Feb 2006]

DX Studio (Freeware Edition for Win2k/XP/Vista)
"DX Studio is a complete integrated development environment for creating interactive 3D graphics. The system comprises of both a real-time 3D engine and a suite of editing tools, and is the first product to offer a complete range of tools in a single IDE."
» http://www.dxstudio.com
[Link verified and viewed 11 March 2007]

Dune (freeware; Linux, Solaris, Irix, Win95/98/NT/2000)
» http://dune.sourceforge.net
[Link verified and viewed 11 Feb 2007]

VRCreator (free, with excellent documentation, but no longer supported)
» ftp://ftp.platinum.com

AC3D (free trial version; Linux, Solaris, Irix, Win95/98/2000/NT/XP)
» http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/computing/users/andy/ac3d.html

Superscape / Viscape

[Note: these products are discontinued, and some of the examples may have been removed by the time you read this. The Superscape / Viscape technologies are currently being maintained and (I hope) further developed by Gigascape (http://www.gigascape.com)]

Authoring software:
DO 3D (allows export and import as VRML, although saves in the Superscape .SVR file format)
» http://www.do3d.com
3D Webmaster
» http://www.3dwebmaster.com/
» Portal to several Viscape worlds
[Link verified and viewed 28 Feb 2007]
» The Liceu, Barcelona
» Die Virtuelle Stadt, with subway link to ...
» CyberBerlin
» Examples worlds from Superscape
» Examples worlds from Alicante Virtual
» Examples worlds from VRServices
3D Webmaster download
» http://openacademy.mindef.gov.sg/OpenAcademy/Central/VR%20Files/VRT/3dwmeval.exe
» http://www.zdnet.com/downloads/stories/info/0,,000NE5,.html
Do 3D download
» http://www.zdnet.com/downloads/stories/info/0,,000QDX,.html
VRT download
» http://openacademy.mindef.gov.sg/OpenAcademy/Central/HTML%20Folder/vrt5.htm
Paraworld download and examples
» http://www.paraworld.com
Viscape plugin downloads:
» Viscape download
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
» Viscape download (alternative)
[Links verified and viewed 28 Feb 2007]


» http://www.web3d.org/x3d/content/README.X3D-Edit.html
[Link verified and viewed 11 Feb 2007]

X3D LookAt & BlendoX3D (Mac) -- a port of the Sony Blendo X3D translator, enabling the conversion of VRML97 files to X3D, and a port of a simple viewer called X3D Lookat, based on Lookat/LibVRML97, to view converted files.
» http://www.ia.hiof.no/~michaell/home/vr/mac/x3d/index.html
[Link verified and viewed 11 Feb 2007]

Combining VRML with QTVR

"VRML and QTVR get Married"
» http://www.itl.nist.gov/iaui/ovrt/projects/vrml/vrml_qtvr.html
[Link verified and viewed 11 Feb 2007]


» http://vrmlworks.crispen.org
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

» http://www.3dlinks.com
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

The Web3D VRML Repository
» http://www.web3d.org/vrml/vrml.htm

MacWeb3d - an indispensible resource for Mac users
» http://www.MacWeb3d.org/
[Link verified and viewed 23 Feb 2007]

The VRML Ring
» http://j.webring.com/hub?ring=vrml97

Projects and emerging technologies

"OpenWorlds' mission is to provide immersive, intelligent, interactive 3D and multimedia technology to application developers, particularly E-learning developers. OpenWorlds™ will become the de facto industry technology for the next-generation immersive Web 3D applications."
» http://www.openworlds.com
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

The Croquet Consortium
"Croquet is a powerful open source software development environment for the creation and large-scale distributed deployment of multi-user virtual 3D applications and metaverses that are (1) persistent (2) deeply collaborative, (3) interconnected and (4) interoperable. The Croquet architecture supports synchronous communication, collaboration, resource sharing and computation among large numbers of users on multiple platforms and multiple devices."
» http://www.opencroquet.org
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

The Metaverse Project
Not much to see here at the moment; but this promises to be an open source equivalent of SecondLife and There.
"The OpenSource Metaverse Project provides an open source metaverse engine along the lines of the commercial metaverse engines Second Life, There and Active Worlds. ... The OpenSource Metaverse Project is analogous to the web. You can create hyperlinks to any other metaworld running on any metaverse server worldwide."
» http://www.metaverse-project.com
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

Another open source project, its development funded under the EU Sixth Framework Programme, and with some major players (including the Blender Foundation) among the project partners.
» http://www.uni-verse.org
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

» http://ajax3d.org
Read the white paper 'Ajax3D: The Open Platform for Rich 3D Web Applications' at:
» http://www.ajax3d.org/whitepaper/
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]

The Multi-User Programming Pedagogy for Enhancing Traditional Study” (M.U.P.P.E.T.S.)
I've not yet had time or opportunity to look closely at this one, but it seems promising.
» http://muppets.rit.edu
[Link verified and viewed 17 March 2007]