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Appendix F

VRML Resources

There are a wealth of VRML resources available on the Internet that contain the latest information. This appendix provides a short introduction to some of these resources.

General VRML Information

The VRML Repositories are a great place to find information on software products. The FAQ contains general information.

VRML Repositories on the Web

The three main repositories for VRML information are as follows:

The VRML Repository at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (http://www.sdsc.edu/vrml/) includes information on various VRML tools, software, and example applications. This is the most up-to-date repository:

http://vrml.wired.com/ includes an archive of the VRML e-list.

http://www.eit.com/vrml/ features the public domain VRML artwork files.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Web Pages

The main VRML FAQ is maintained by Jan Hardenbergh and is located at

http://www.oki.com/vrml/VRML_FAQ.html

The FAQ includes information on configuring your HTTP server to transmit the MIME types for VRML and compressed VRML.

VRML Specification

The Version 1.0 Specification for Virtual Reality Modeling Language is at

http://www.hyperreal.com/~mpesce/vrml/vrml.tech/vrml10-3.html

A VRML-enabled version of the spec is at

http://www.virtpark.com/theme/vrml/

A version of the spec is available in Japanese at

http://tje12.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp:10000/~takuya/vrml/vrml.html

VRML Browsers

WebFX from Paper Software runs on Windows PCs:

http://www.paperinc.com

Webspace is a VRML browser available on various machines. SGI version:

http://webspace.sgi.com

Others:

http://www.tgs.com/~template

InterVista’s WorldView VRML browser runs on Windows PCs:

http://www.intervista.com

VRScout from Chaco is available on Windows PCs:

http://www.chaco.com

WhurlWind is available on PowerMacs running QD3D:

http:/www.info.apple.com/qd3d/Viewer.HTML

Virtus Voyager is available for Macintosh and Power Macintosh:

http://www.virtus.com/voyager.html

SDSC (the San Diego Supercomputer Center) is developing a VRML browser for SGI/UNIX machines, with source code available free for noncommercial use:

http://www.sdsc.edu/EnablingTech/Visualization/vrml/webview.html

VRWeb, along with its source code, is available on UNIX machines:

http://hyperg.iicm.tu-graz.ac.at/vrweb/

Newsgroups

Newsgroups for VRML are just starting to be created. They are a good place for beginners to ask questions.

comp.lang.vrml

This is being discussed as a potential new VRML newsgroup.

alt.lang.vrml

This newsgroup exists, but has low propagation and low traffic. The FAQ for alt.lang.vrml is at

http://www.virtpark.com/theme/vrmlfaq.html

E-Lists

The main e-list for discussion of VRML is the unmoderated www-vrml list. Expect a minimum of 30 messages a day on this list; it’s not for the faint-hearted. Hope springs eternal for a good newsgroup to complement the e-list! For information, e-mail majordomo@wired.com with the message info www-vrml. A digest version also exists, which concatenates the daily messages into one message. E-mail majordomo@wired.com with the message info www-vrml-digest for more information. Because of the volume of postings to the www-vrml list, please read the list for several days before posting, so you can get a feel for what’s discussed. And if you have questions like “When will such-and-such browser be available?” please try the VRML Repositories mentioned in this section first. If you have problems with a VRML browser, please e-mail the relevant company.

Two other VRML e-lists exist. They are the vrml-modeling and vrml-behaviors lists. The vrml-behaviors list is starting to get busy as people propose ideas for behaviors in VRML 2.0. For information e-mail listserv@sdsc.edu with the message info vrml-modeling or info vrml-behaviors.

An e-list about business applications and models for virtual worlds is vworlds-biz. E-mail listserv@best.com with the message info vworlds-biz.

Software

If you are interested in writing your own VRML browser, you will want to start with QvLib, a parser for the VRML 1.0 specification.

QvLib parser is a program that parses VRML files. An SGI version is at

ftp://ftp.sgi.com/sgi/inventor/2.0/qv1.0.tar.Z

Old versions corresponding to Pre-1.0 VRML Specification drafts are available for LINUX, IRIX, Sun, NT and Mac at

ftp://ftp.vrml.org/pub/parser/

Authoring Tools

Authoring tools let you create VRML worlds, generally using a 3D user interface. Using them is much easier than trying to write VRML by hand.

Webspace Author is a new authoring package for SGIs from SGI:

http://webspace.sgi.com

The nice thing about Webspace Author is that it has good support for VRML-specific features, such as LOD (level of detail) editing, WWWInlines, and optimizing file sizes.

Home Space Builder is a VRML-compatible authoring tool for PCs from Paragraph:

http://www.us.paragraph.com/whatsnew/homespce.htm

It works well once you understand the interface, though the file sizes can be large.

Fountain is a VRML authoring tool for PCs from Caligari:

http://www.caligari.com

It builds nicely on Caligari’s experience developing Truespace, a 3D modeller, and can act like a VRML browser too.

Create your own simple VRML home world out of 3D fonts using Instant VRML Home World at

http://www.aereal.com/instant

Aereal Phonts creates very small files (around 4K) because it uses VRML primitives. Aereal Phonts also lets you have your simple home world automatically hosted by Aereal’s web server, so that you can instantly have your own VRML URL.

Portal is a tool for building VRML worlds from Inner Action Corporation, running on Microsoft Windows operating systems:

http://www.well.com/user/jack/

WRLGRID from the SDSC generates tile or grid geometries in VRML format:

http://www.sdsc.edu/EnablingTech/Visualization/vrml/

Radiance software is developing Ez3d-VR, a VRML authoring tool:

http://www.radiance.com/~radiance

Ez3d has several modules, has VRML-specific features, and is available on several platforms.

Converters

If you are using 3D models that have been created with CAD or 3D modeling software, you can use conversion software to translate the model into VRML format.

Keith Rule has added VRML output support to his popular freeware converter, wcvt2pov:

http://www.europa.com/~keithr

DXF2IV converts DXF files to Open Inventor (what VRML is based on). Available at

ftp://ftp.sgi.com

You can use iv2vrml to finish the conversion.

INTERCHANGE for Windows from Syndesis Corporation:

syndesis@beta.inc.net

is a commercial format translator that supports more than thirty 3D file formats, including VRML.

OBJ2WRL and TRI2WRL convert Wavefront obj (object) files and Alias tri (triangle) files to VRML, from the SDSC:

http://www.sdsc.edu/EnablingTech/Visualization/vrml/

Object File Format (OFF) to VRML:

http://coney.gsfc.nasa.gov/Mathews/Objects

Java/VRML Companies

There is a small group of companies doing the initial development in the intersection of Java and VRML.

Aereal (http://www.aereal.com) develops Java/VRML/database content sites.

Construct (http://www.construct.net) creates high-end VRML Web sites, including Java-enabled VRML.

Dimension X (http://www.dnx.com) has developed Liquid Reality, a Java-based VRML browser.

Paper Software (http://www.paperinc.com) has developed a Java API for its WebFX VRML browser.

Sun Microsystems (http://java.sun.com) is working with SGI and other companies on bringing 3D to Java.

Silicon Graphics (http://webspace.sgi.com) is developing a Java API for its 3D software, including its VRML offerings.

WorldMaker (http://earth.path.net/worldmaker) is developing software for advanced Java/VRML behaviors and multiuser VRML.

Interesting VRML Web Sites

It can be a challenge finding interesting VRML sites on the web. Here are some URLs to get you started.

Here’s the home of the Interactive Media Festival:

http://vrml.arc.org/

Proteinman’s Top Ten VRML Sites is a top ten list of VRML sites that can be accessed in VRML:

http://www.virtpark.com/theme/proteinman/home.wrl.gz

and HTML

http://www.virtpark.com/theme/proteinman/home.html

Here are some simple VRML models:

http://www.vrml.org/vrml/

Check here for many VRML-related links:

http://www.lightside.com/3dsite/cgi/VRML-index.html

The CAVE is at

www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/EVL/docs/html/CAVE.overview.html

and

http://jaka.eecs.uic.edu/dave/vrml/CAVE/

Build your own cell membrane at

http://bellatrix.pcl.ox.ac.uk

Step-by-Step Origami at

http://www.neuro.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~aly/polygon/vrml/ika

Aereal Serch is a database of VRML links, viewable in VRML

http://www.virtpark.com/theme/serch/home.wrl.gz

and HTML

http://www.virtpark.com/theme/cgi-bin/serch.html

An interactive application that lets you move around objects through the use of HTML forms and CGI at

http://andante.iss.uw.edu.pl/viso/vrml/colab/walk.html

Fractal lovers can check out a page on VRML fractals at

http://kirk.usafa.af.mil/~baird/vrml

The Inter-Galacticum (http://www.virtpark.com/theme/cgi-bin/ig.wrl) is a bunch of worlds created on-line by users of Virtual World Factory (http://www.virtpark.com/theme/factinfo.html).

Kahlua, a Java wrapper for Open Inventor 2.0 (which is similar to VRML 1.0) running on SGI and Solaris platforms, lets you write Inventor programs in Java:

http://www.cs.brown.edu/people/jsw/kahlua

Writings That Have Inspired VRML-ers

There are several science fiction books that pioneers in Java and VRML will refer to as a source of inspiration for their work in VRML.

Snow Crash and The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

Neuromancer and others by William Gibson

True Names by Vernor Vinge

The Rim by Andrew Besher


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