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February 10, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

The next-generation 3D standard from the Web3D Consortium, formerly the VRML Consortium, will be based on XML and called X3D (short for extensible 3D). While X3D will be backwardly compatible with existing technology based on the virtual reality modeling language (VRML), it should also interoperate with other web standards, including MPEG-4 and HTML-NG. X3D is defined as a set of lightweight, componentized 3D standards, built to address the needs of a wide range of markets – that is, broadcast media as well as the internet. The first components should include a lightweight 3D runtime engine, a platform-independent file format and XML integration. Later releases are to include real-time 3D graphics with text, 2D graphics and streaming sound and video. With industry support, the Web3D Consortium hopes to produce a draft X3D standard by mid-1999. This announcement will not come as a huge surprise to longtime industry observers. Ever since it announced its change of name in the middle of last year (CI No 3,457), and particularly after Microsoft announced its own XML-based Chromeffects for 3D graphics on the web (CI No 3,488), the Consortium has been hinting that componentization, XML and the embrace of rival standards like Chromeffects are the only ways for the VRML community to move forward. In fact, both sides of the Chromeffects controversy are now making conciliatory noises. As a key Consortium member, Microsoft has said it wants to bring its experience with Chromeffects to the X3D initiative.

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