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   Re: [xml-dev] VRML 1.0 and the HTML Killers

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Thanks Len,
I paste here a previous response to David Megginson's post on VRML 1.0 (previously I hit reply button instead of reply all), and below that I bring to your attention an intitative we are engaging with regard for digital heritage domian interoperability.
VRML 1.0 was an evolutionary dead end, and its mutant offspring VRML 2+  fair better than it in did in the environment, but are soon to be extinct also, as it now appears Java3D will also be, and the newer entrants in the evolutionary drama, X3D and Xj3D, are likely to be the real evolutionary winners for the foreseeable future (or let us hope) so let's refocus this on the critical issues regarding 3D, and there are 3 primary points I'll make here:
1. Unless it comes pre-packaged on a machine or within a browser the majority of the population will not take the short amount of time that is necessary to download and install 3D software.
2. Similarly, until high end graphics cards are commonplace (and this circumstance is continuing to improve) and until end user clients can process the wieghty 3D models (either singular files or more buly 3D worlds), the "marketability of 3D will continue to be viewed as too bothersome to most, although there is always the "Oh, how interesting" appeal- point is that industry needs to continue improving and making more affordable high end  graphics cards. for the consumer.
3.  (This could be #1) Access and bandwidth. The biggest hurdle that 3D has always faced is its bulkiness, i.e., 3D models, despite decimation and compression, are large files, and the average Internet user is not getting anything close to 56K, which isn't great enough to fluidly deliver large files.  The few of us on I2 enjoy what the majority don't, or perhaps more importantly, cannot comprehend as a reality, because they have no idea what it even is, but even at 100Mb 3D can be tough to deliver and access fluidly, unless it has been rendered smartly, i.e., to assure quality and to ensure that it is not polygon heavy.

Heritage Metadata Repostory (HMR) and Heritage Portal Services Interface (HPSI) and, of course, with translation layers.
Per Len's apt discussion below, Interoperability is the goal we all seek, especially those of us intrigued with the potential for cross-system data search and retrieval.
Pending funding, we've formed an initial consortium (of sorts)  comprised of 32 of the larger organizations and institutions  in the US and EU (with others to join in future) involved in digital heritage collections development, i.e.,to network remotely located digital libraries (e.g., Digital Archive Network for Anthropology and World Heritage (http://dana-wh.net)), and related world heritage collections, e.g., HEIRPORT, ARENA, AnthroSource Portal,  and so forth, to develop a Heritage Metadata Repostory and Heritage Portal Services Interface (HPSI), with intention of facilitating interoperability across and between the broad range of heritage collections.  Pending funding, it will be a three year development project and is similar in concept, scope, and goal to the UK's  Common Information Environment (CIE), and the HMR is, of course, similar to the OAI PMH. This involves interfacing a diverse array of digital collections, with a full spectrum of digital content, e.g., textual and metrical data, 2D images, and 3D objects and 3D immersive environments, streaming media ((e.g., video)  and while this is an ambitious undertaking, it has potential beyond the heritage domain, and we are collaborating on related activties with a broader spectrum of specialists in a variety of fields.

Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
X3D is doing fine.  You should check out Vizx3D, Flux 
and the Xj3D open source libraries.

The notion of 'killer apps' that have a 'serious impact' 
is dead.  It doesn't work like that anymore.  Pretty much 
everyone is in a niche these days and the questions to 
ask are, do they interoperate with other niches in the 
ecosystem, and are they conformant with the standard.  The 
first question can be hard to answer, but the second 
question can be easy if the process and the originating 
organization do a complete job resulting in conformance testing 
and test marks.  That makes the whole 'business' 
process for citing and procuring them much easier.


Should provide an overview of what X3D and the W3DC are 
doing these days.  As always, walk up the URL for 
more general information.  The W3DC is reorganizing to 
align itself better with the way most consortia operate 
today although it will maintain the VRML list without 
moderation, and keep the fees for professional members 
moderate ($100) rather than being an 'invitation-only' 

I also wrote an article on X3D for xml.com last year.  
It's in the archives somewhere.

HTML will never die.  Gencoding never does.  There 
should always be that easy to learn, easy to apply 
vocabulary that gets jobs done fast.  If there is a 
struggle in X3D or real-time 3D in general, it is 
the complexity of creating it and that as much as 
the problems of client conformance are what keep 
3D on the Web, in the niche.  Graphics are simply 
hard to do, and real time 3D is the toughest of 
all.  We have a lot of work to do to get to 
Drag Drop and Go.  

If you like modeling, any help you can provide would 
be greatly appreciated.  The fellow you would 
want to work with is Alan Hudson who is the 
Xj3D master.  Keith Victor of Virtock Technologies 
is the creator of Vizx3D.  There are other neat 
tools in the freeware areas but you can find out 
all of this at the website above.


From: David Megginson [mailto:dmeggin@attglobal.net]

Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:

VRML 1.0 wasn't an ISO standard.

Did any of the later (i.e. ISO) versions of VRML have any serious impact on 
the Web or the tech world in general?  I remember the 3D-on-the-Web thing 
flaring up and then quickly fizzling out in the mid-to-late 1990s.  VRML 1.0

is still around as a platform-neutral exchange format -- the 3D modelling 
tool's equivalent of Rich Text Format -- so it's fair to argue that that 
version did have a small-but-measurable impact.

I'll be happy to be shown to be wrong.  I love 3D modelling, and I liked the

idea of publishing 3D models on the Web in an open format -- if there's a 
lot of action out there that I'm missing, I'll be grateful for pointers.

Also, I should note, to be fair, that XML-on-the-Web idea fizzled just as 
fast as 3D-on-the-Web did.  All of the supposed client-side HTML killers[*] 
in the late 1990's either died quickly (VRML, XML, ActiveX controls), are on

life support (Java applets), or have found niches and learned to cohabitate 
peacefully (Flash, JavaScript, PDF).

All the best,


[*] On the public Web client, that is; obviously, some of these have 
vigorous existances elsewhere, and others survive inside corporate

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From the desk of James [Jim] E. Landrum III
Archaeology Materials and Database Manager, 
Archaeology Technologies Laboratory (ATL),
North Dakota State University (NDSU).
Ph. 701-231-7115  FAX: 701-231-1047
Email: james.landrum@ndsu.nodak.edu
ATL Web Site: http://atl.ndsu.edu
Digital Archive Network for Anthropology and World Heritage (DANA-WH)
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