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Part 5: X3D > X3D OVERVIEW

Chapter 21. X3D OVERVIEW

Topics in This Chapter

  • How X3D began as VRML Next Generation (VRML-NG)

  • Requirements driving the development of X3D

  • Core X3D specification proposals

  • Proposed X3D specification contributions

  • Proposed X3D extensions

At the time of this writing, Extensible 3D (X3D) was under active de-velopment, to such a degree that much about this next generation of VRML was still up in the air. Although it's nice to be able to construct conceptual X3D examples without having to run them through a (presently nonexistent) syntax checker, it's practically impossible to predict the future.

Fortunately, we don't have to. The ultimate outcome of the X3D development process will be found through the Web3D Consortium's X3D Task Group Web site (see http://www.web3d.org/x3d.html). As this book goes to press, the site is chock full of materials related to development of the X3D specification, including proposals from various companies.

It contains a huge pile of documents—some new, some old, and few consistent with one another. These materials make it clear that contributors to the X3D development effort are all looking out the same window. The largest objectives are well in view, and some of the smaller details have begun to emerge as well. This chapter presents a summary of the most essential of these materials, giving you an overview of X3D as it currently stands as this book goes to press.

There's another good reason to review these materials. Looking back at the VRML97 development process, it is now obvious that key elements of technology described in various VRML proposals eventually surfaced in other Internet 3D technologies, even though they didn't make it into VRML97. Many ideas from the Sun Microsystem's VRML proposal, for example, later appeared in Java 3D, while concepts described in Microsoft's ActiveVRML proposal turned up in ActiveX and Chromeffects (interestingly, the now defunct Chromeffects effort was an early influence on X3D; see Chapter 20, "Why X3D?" ). There's every reason to suspect that the same will happen with regard to the X3D proposals described below. In other words, concepts rejected by X3D may well surface in future Web3D technologies.

Finally, learning some of the concepts currently proposed for X3D will help you understand not only what X3D is about, but how to speak a com-mon language that's starting to emerge among Web3D developers.

Note: X3D Task Group

X3D is being developed by the Web3D Consortium (http://www.web3d.org/), the same organization that developed VRML (see Chapter 2, "Overview of Web3D," and Chapter 4, "VRML Overview," for details). As the successor to VRML, X3D allows 3D content to be expressed through the Extensible Markup Language (XML) as described in Chapter 22, "Weaving X3D into Web Pages."

X3D is the newest of all Web3D technologies discussed in this book. Because it was under active development at press time, the X3D material discussed in these chapters is designed to give you a conceptual understanding of the technology rather than a concrete one. If you're interested in using X3D, you should visit the X3D Task Group site to get your hands on the most current X3D specification and tools available (http://www.web3d.org/x3d.html).

You can also visit the X3D area of the Web3D Gallery (http://www.web3dgallery.com/x3d/) for easy access to a variety of X3D resources and example content.



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