VRML for Scientific Visualization
VRML is alive again, resurrected by Perl and Linux. I got freeWRL-0.27 working by following the directions. I installed the VRML test worlds for FreeWRL. Thanks to vrml4linux for pointing me in the right direction.

Floppy's Web3D Guide has a long, well-written tutorial on VRML.

I have been trying to get the code from the OpenVRML Project at SourceForge to work. This code aspires to conform to the entire VRML97 specification, including JavaScript support.

I originally thought that VRML would be good for visualizing scientific data. Now I'm not so sure, because it is difficult to discern the type of information that you get from the axis of a two-dimensional graph. Using VRML too look at numeric results is like trying to measure the dimensions of a room by holding a ruler at arms length and eyeballing the wall. Not what you want.

Another approach to rendering scenes is to take advantage of raytracing techniques. The emphasis in raytracing is usually to get a more realistic or artistic scene, and less of an interactive experience than VRML. The comp.graphics.rendering.raytracing FAQ is a good source of information for getting started.

Some people tell me that VRML is really a waste of time, and that I should just use OpenGL (or Mesa) directly. They may be right, but I really enjoy text processing so I find VRML to be quite seductive. I have written filters that translate CAD data into VRML, and flown around inside complicated designs that had never been seen in three dimensions before. I had lots of problems with the Cosmo Player, so I eventually stopped working on it. Once I get a decent VRML player that can comfortably handle 100k triangles and level of detail control, I may start posting code here.

Newsgroups

Check out alt.lang.vrml. sci.virtual-worlds is moderated.

VRML Technical Info

Fiction

Someday there will be something like VRML, only better! "In order to understand the past, you have to understand the future"

12/17/2000

By toma