What is VRML?

VRML stands for Virtual Reality Modeling Language. It was designed to create a more “friendly” environment for the World Wide Web. VRML incorporates 3-D shapes, colors, textures, and sounds to produce a “virtual world” that a user could walk and fly through. VRML is an interpreted language. That is, commands written in text are interpreted by the browser and displayed on the user’s monitor. Many of these worlds can be found on the web today. The current specification, VRML 97, supports JAVA, sound, animation, and Javascript. It allows the world to be dynamic; always changing.


HTML and VRML are similar, and very different. Both languages use a text editor as standard equipment. You don’t need anything other than a text editor for HTML, as is the same with VRML. However, the similarities stop there. By creating the 3rd dimension, a lot more creativity, as well as frustration arises. VRML requires that “objects” be placed in an X, Y, and Z space. HTML only uses the X and Y plane. Also, HTML can be viewed in only one way, which the page designer specifies. VRML can be viewed from all angles, making a world be much more enjoyable to experience. VRML files are inherently much bigger than HTML files. Due to this, you should use some methods to reduce your file size.

VRML History

VRML was an idea that was expressed in the First International Conference of the World Wide Web. Mark Pesce, Tony Parisi, Tim Berners-Lee, and David Ragget discussed VRML at this conference. VRML would have to be platform independent to be implemented on the internet. Also, the language had to be able to place objects in 3-D space, as well as include attributes such as shape, color, and size. Since VRML would be used in the internet, all platforms should be able to support it: UNIX workstations to humble desktop PC’s. Silicon Graphics introduced the Open Inventor format, and it was widely accepted. Since then, slight changes were made, and VRML 1.0 was introduced in May 1995. A more clarified version, VRML 1.0c, was issued January 1996. Now, VRML 2, called Moving Worlds, is in full swing.
Differences between VRML 1.0 and 2.0

The major differences that VRML 2.0 has is that it is more interactive, more realistic. VRML 1.0 had static worlds, that is, no interaction and the shapes you see in the world are the shapes that will stay, no movement. VRML 2.0 enhances this by adding JAVA and Javascript support, as well as sound and animation. Now instead of just looking at an unexciting house, you can see the windows flutter, the doors open, cars entering and exiting the garage. Also you can hear music playing, and interactivity like opening the door, using an elevator, or flying through space, automatically! VRML 2.0 was such a major leap from 1.0 that a whole new language had to be created. VRML 1 and 2 are not, compatible. There are conversion tools available, but the best thing is to learn VRML 2.0 from scratch, and experience the new dimension of reality it offers.