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September 22, 1998

3D WEB DEVELOPMENT TOOLS HIT THE STREETS

By CBR Staff Writer

As if responding to VRML co-inventor Tony Parisi’s plea for better web 3D authoring tools (CI No 3,500), two companies have introduced rival offerings. One is Santa Clara, California-based Superscape, a charter member of the VRML Consortium, which has launched a 3D ActiveX control called 3D Control. This is designed to help developers improve integration of their 3D applications with those built using other tools, such as Microsoft’s Visual Basic, Java VM and Visual C++, Inprise Delphi and Macromedia’s Director and Authorware. Meanwhile, in Palo Alto, Sun Microsystems Inc has made the beta version of its Java 3D application programming interface (API) available. Ken Tallman, Sun’s senior product marketing manager for Java 3D, says that since the company joined the VRML Consortium earlier this year, one thing has become clear: People are looking for a better programming environment than they had with EAI. Not that that’s the sole purpose of the Java 3D API. VRML is just one of the things people are doing with this API, Tallman says. More people are adding 3D graphics to their existing Java applications. Some of the people who had been using VRML are migrating to Java 3D camp. Usability issues are prompting that migration, he claims. He also believes it is reversible: If those people can also get a Java 3D VRML viewer and browser, they’ll have the best of both worlds. To that end, Sun has donated the source of its proof-of-concept Java VRML loader and browser to the Consortium. Any VRML developers out there with time on their hands?

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