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The Web3D Consortium is a not-for-profit, member-funded industry consortium whose purpose is to define and develop the X3D royalty-free open standards file format and runtime architecture to represent and communicate 3D scenes.
The development of 3D web-based graphics has evolved from its beginnings as the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) to Extensible 3D (X3D). Over recent years, advances in real time graphics and networking technology, and most notably the emergence of the Extensible Markup Language XML, have heavily influenced the development of the ISO-approved, freely available, X3D open standard. X3D embodies best practices in commercial real time graphics within the widely adopted framework of the World Wide Web family of technologies and standards and has no intellectual property restrictions. It provides a system for the storage, retrieval and playback of real time graphics content embedded in applications, all within an open architecture to support a wide array of domains and user scenarios.
Web3D applications have been active for some time. Previously known as the VRML Consortium, this community spearheaded the development of the VRML 1.0 and 2.0 specifications, which provide the basis for the development of associated applications. The organizations involved in this effort felt that the creation of an open consortium focused exclusively on Web3D would provide the structure necessary to stabilize, standardize, and nurture the technology for the entire community. Today, the Web3D Consortium is utilizing its broad-based industry support to develop the X3D specification as a successor to VRML for communicating 3D on the web, between applications and across distributed networks and web services.
Related to its educational mission, the Consortium maintains an extensive website of documents and links related to VRML and X3D resources, including plugins and browsers from many long term members and open source developers.
- VRML, the first ISO-standard format for 3D browsing
- X3D, modern descendant of VRML that includes XML encoding
- Xj3D, a Java browser/toolkit for X3D display