The Web3D Consortium and Sun Microsystems have announced the creation of a new X3D Binary Format Working Group.
X3D is an "Open Standards XML-enabled 3D file format to enable real-time communication of 3D data across all applications and network applications. It has a rich set of features for use in engineering and scientific visualization, CAD and Architecture, Medical visualization, Training and simulation, multimedia, entertainment, educational, and more."
Other development initiatives within the Web3D Consortium include an X3D GeoSpatial Working Group, X3D Programmable Shaders WG, Web3D Consortium Medical Working Group (MedX3D), CAD3D Working Group, and Visual Simulation (XMSF) WG, and Humanoid Animation WG.
The Consortium's new X3D Binary Format Working Group has been chartered to "develop both an encoding of X3D to enable advanced compression of 3D data to shorten the transmission time of models and scenes across a network and a data encryption scheme to protect sensitive model information. The working group is open to any member of the Web3D Consortium and has already received significant contributions, including patented, advanced geometry compression technology from Sun."
The X3D Binary Format "will be extensible through the use of a pluggable architecture to enable specialized compression techniques on a per-node or per-geometry type basis. This flexibility can be used to deploy highly efficient mesh compression regimes that are ideally suited to a particular model. X3D's encryption scheme will leverage the XML encryption work at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), further strengthening the ongoing liaison between the two standards bodies."
The X3D binary format is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2005, and will be an open, royalty-free specification. X3D itself is "an open standard that has no royalties associated with it; the Web3D Consortium has a strict policy about not requiring any IP encumbered technologies to be required, and a long-standing agreement with ISO to release the X3D specifications fee-free to the public."
The X3D Consortium is currently "advancing X3D as an integrated 3D graphics and multimedia framework in the ISO process for Information technology — Computer graphics and image processing." Don Brutzman of the Naval Postgraduate School MOVES Institute recently reported from the Breckenridge, Colorado ISO meetings that "both parts of the X3D Abstract Specification are now approved for advancement to International Standard, ISO 19775. X3D is the Web3D Consortium's centerpiece for demonstrating open standards for real-time 3D communication. Part 1 is Architecture and Base Components. Part 2 is the Scene Access Interface (SAI). Developed and tested by Web3D working groups, this specification defines the core technical capabilities of X3D scenes. X3D is equivalently implementable by multiple file-format encodings and programming languages, providing unsurpassed interoperability for 3D models."
From the Announcement: X3D Binary Format Working Group
"The X3D binary format will bring together many leading-edge technologies to create a state-of-the-art compression and encryption capability for all X3D content — further widening the applicability of this ISO standard," said Alan Hudson, president of Yumetech and chair of the X3D Binary Format Working Group. "We particularly welcome the royalty-free contribution of advanced compression technologies from Sun that will enable X3D to be one of the most compact and efficient 3D formats in the industry — and we encourage participation from any other company that would benefit from a widely available compressible 3D format."
The X3D Binary Format will be extensible through the use of a pluggable architecture to enable specialized compression techniques on a per-node or per-geometry type basis. This flexibility can be used to deploy highly efficient mesh compression regimes that are ideally suited to a particular model. Sun's contributed technology is one such advanced compression scheme. X3D can incorporate any appropriate technology, creating a unique opportunity for companies to deploy their compression technologies within an open standards framework. X3D's encryption scheme will leverage the XML encryption work at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) — further strengthening the ongoing liaison between the two standards bodies.
"Sun sees strong market potential in enabling X3D with an advanced compression technology — and that is why we have made the decision to contribute our sophisticated compression technology, royalty-free, to the X3D initiative," said Doug Twilleager, senior manager of Graphics & Media and chief architect of game technologies at Sun Microsystems. "Web3D's open membership and proven standardization processes creates an ideal forum for building this important standard — we strongly encourage interested companies to join the working group and express their commercial needs for the binary format."
The addition of a compressed binary encoding for X3D will enable a unique combination of fast, secure communication of 3D data for a wide variety of visualization and web-service applications — while using an open ISO standard. Many of the vertical market-focused initiatives within the Web3D Consortium that use X3D as a foundation technology, such as the CAD Distillation Format (CDF) specification — an X3D-based format to distill the essential elements of complex CAD and architectural data for use throughout an enterprise, will automatically benefit from this expansion of X3D's capabilities.
"Contributors to the X3D Binary Format are already showing successful solutions to a challenging industry problem by following the Web3D Consortium's proven Request for Proposal (RFP) process. NPS is committed to contribute our open-source XML Schema Binary Compression (XSBC) towards this technical solution for X3D," stated Don Brutzman of the Naval Postgraduate School MOVES Institute. "Web3D also continues to work with the W3C Binary Characterization Working Group to develop broadly compatible compression for X3D and other XML languages."
X3D forms the extensible technology foundation for the Consortium's market-focused standardization activities. X3D is a powerful open file format standard for 3D visual effects, behavioral modeling and interaction. X3D's XML-encoded scene graph enables 3D to be incorporated into web services architectures and distributed environments and facilitates moving 3D data between applications. X3D's language-neutral Scene Authoring Interface (SAI) enables real time 3D content and controls to be easily integrated into a broad range of web and non-web applications. Standalone X3D browsers are shipping today from leading 3D browser companies including CRC, Media Machines, and Yumetech.
The Web3D Consortium is a member-funded industry consortium committed to the creation and deployment of open, royalty-free standards that enable the communication of real-time 3D across applications, networks, and XML web services. The Consortium works closely with the ISO, MPEG and W3C standardization bodies to maximize market opportunities for its membership. All Consortium members are empowered to participate and vote in Consortium working groups and are able to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge 3D platforms and applications through access to specification drafts and conformance tests before public deployment.
From the Announcement: ISO Votes to Advance X3D to International Standard
I'm pleased to report that both parts of the X3D Abstract Specification are now approved for advancement to International Standard, ISO 19775. X3D is the Web3D Consortium's centerpiece for demonstrating open standards for real-time 3D communication...
The vote by 14 separate national committees was unanimous in favor of X3D, with zero negative comments. This is considered a strong response by ISO members. Further work this week includes comment resolution, update submissions and progress planning for the ongoing related specification documents:
ISO 19774, Humanoid Animation (H-Anim) ISO 19776-1, X3D Classic VRML Encoding ISO 19776-2, X3D Extensible Markup Language (XML) Encoding ISO 19776-3, X3D Compressed Binary Encoding ISO 19777-1, X3D SAI Language Bindings for EcmaScript ISO 19777-2, X3D SAI Language Bindings for Java
Web3D/ISO specifications for X3D, H-Anim and VRML97 are freely available online at http://www.web3d.org/x3d/specifications. Draft specifications for the CAD Distillation Format (CDF), programmable-hardware shaders and other technologies are available to Web3D Consortium members participating in Web3D working groups. Worth noting is that all this specification work is subject to the Web3D Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy. Each contribution to X3D and H-Anim has been formally predeclared by Web3D members as either unencumbered or, if patented, royalty free for any use as part of these standards.
Jubilant thanks are due to the X3D Specification Team for amazing expertise and endurance, numerous Web3D companies for implementation and evaluation experience, and the many contributors in the Web3D/X3D/VRML community. The Web3D Board of Directors has provided critical support, guidance and leadership throughout this effort. Special thanks go to Dr. Richard Puk of Intelligraphics Inc., our lead editor and guiding light for all things ISO.
- Announcement 2004-08-02: "Web3D Consortium Announces X3D Compressed Binary Encoding Initiative. Open, Compact File Format to Enable Rapid Delivery and Encryption of X3D-Based Content. Working Group Accepting Key Technology Contributions from Sun Microsystems and Others."
- Web3D Consortium announcement: "ISO votes to advance X3D to International Standard." Summary: "both parts of the X3D Abstract Specification are now approved for advancement to International Standard, ISO 19775..." Posted to the WWW-VRML Public Email List; see the Web3D.org Public Mailing List Home Page.
- Web3D Consortium Working Groups:
- X3D and Related Specifications
- XML X3D Schema and DTD
- X3D News Archive
- Web3D Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy
- X3D Overview
- X3D Developer Resources
- X3D Frequently Asked Questions
- X3D Tools and Applications
- Web3D Consortium web site
- Sun Microsystems, Inc web site
- W3C references:
- "VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) and X3D" - Local reference page.