Microsoft Releases VRML 2.0 Authoring Tools CD

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4, 1997 — At the SIGGRAPH ’97 show today, Microsoft Corp. released a CD-ROM of cutting-edge VRML 2.0 authoring tools for creating immersive, interactive 3-D content for the Internet and intranets. The CD-ROM includes tools and sample content from more than 20 industry-leading VRML developers, and will be distributed by Microsoft free of charge.

The release demonstrates Microsoft’s continuing support for VRML developers and underscores Microsoft’s commitment to opening up the VRML 2.0 specification to interactive content developers. In January 1997, Microsoft contributed the Intervista VRML 2.0 viewer to the VRML Consortium. In July, Microsoft integrated the Intervista VRML 2.0 viewer in Microsoft® Internet Explorer 4.0. Today, Microsoft announced the industry’s first authoring tools CD.

Widespread acceptance of the VRML 2.0 specification is important because it ensures that end users can view VRML 2.0 content using any VRML 2.0-compliant browser. This standardization, as well as the growth of VRML 2.0 development tools, is necessary for expanding the commercial applications of VRML content to meet the needs of businesses engaged in developing compelling online ventures.

“We believe that an open, stable VRML 2.0 specification will continue to stimulate the development of powerful new VRML 2.0 authoring tools and content, and will open up new business opportunities for both developers and companies that want to deploy VRML content in their online enterprises,” said Eric Engstrom, group program manager, DirectX media at Microsoft. “Microsoft’s support of VRML 2.0 in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 assures developers that their VRML 2.0 content can be optimally viewed by our broad base of users on the Windows® platform.”

“Microsoft’s strong contribution to the promotion of VRML 2.0 provides crucial support for developers creating next-generation content for the Internet, intranets and other interactive media,” said Neil Trevitt, president of the VRML Consortium. “We believe that this CD-ROM is a very effective means of reinforcing VRML 2.0 and stimulating the development of exciting new VRML content.”

Microsoft’s VRML 2.0 CD contains demos, betas and full versions of software, including award-winning VRML 2.0 products. The following are included on the CD:

  • Tools for creating dynamic 3-D VRML graphs and remote database visualizations

  • Testing suites for VRML 2.0-based multiuser 3-D spaces

  • Tools for editing VRML 2.0 and associated languages at the source-code level

  • VRML 2.0 export utilities for popular 3-D animation programs

  • Texture libraries of standard JPEG images

  • “Smart” authoring tools for creating complex shapes and realistic topographical landscapes

Many of the authoring tools require no programming or 3-D animation experience from the user, allowing artists and developers to create virtual 3-D worlds using VRML 2.0.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity not only to produce this CD-ROM for Microsoft, but to have created a novel concept for developers to explore the latest that VRML has to offer with unique navigation, environments and characters,” said Timothy Childs, CEO and co-founder of Curve Inc. “Moreover, VRML 2.0 developers will find a treasure trove of tools and sample applications on this CD that will help them create their own rich 3-D content with unprecedented, interactivity and animation.”

Limitless Possibilities

VRML 2.0 can be used to create immersive virtual worlds and interactive simulations of real-life situations, providing the potential for applications that extend beyond entertainment into a variety of fields, including science, medicine, architecture, aviation, education and database visualization. A key objective of the VRML 2.0 CD-ROM is to provide developers with examples of the many types of VRML 2.0 tools that are available and the different types of applications that can be created.

Availability

The final version of the VRML 2.0 Tools CD for the Windows 95 and Windows NT® operating systems is available now on the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/vrml/.

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VRML Leaders Contribute to Microsoft VRML 2.0 CD-ROM

Advanced Visual Systems Inc.

AVS/Express helps developers build applications that benefit from graphical data representation and visualization, regardless of the data type or source. The AVS/Express development environment is a high-performance, visually oriented, creative world in which developers rapidly design, construct and prototype applications that used to be difficult and time-consuming to create. With AVS/Express, developers use object-oriented visual programming in an open and extensible environment that eclipses traditional 3GL and 4GL development methods. This environment promotes software reusability and increases developers’ productivity. AVS/Express includes the ability to output virtual reality markup language (VRML) 1 or 2.

Aesthetic Solutions

With the Microsoft VRML CD, Aesthetic Solutions announces Aesthetic World Visions, the first in its Aesthetic Visions family of component-based VR and VRML authoring tools. Aesthetic World Visions is a “world assembly” tool that allows users to create virtual worlds by using prefabricated components to create objects and creatures whose position, appearance and behavior can be independently configured and controlled. No programming or 3D graphics expertise is required to use Aesthetic World Visions. An export capability allows worlds – including behaviors, to be saved in a format that can be loaded and run by the Microsoft VRML browser. Beta 1 of Aesthetic World Visions is provided on the CD along with a small set of sample components. Users should check the Aesthetic Solutions Web site at http://www.aesthetic.com/ for the latest beta versions as well as for final product and ordering information.

blaxxun interactive

The blaxxun Community Platform is an extensible and scalable platform for running online communities. It consists of a robust and scalable Community Server and a family of Community Passports – clients that provide different levels of access to community features, from text-only through full multiuser interactive VRML. Web sites built on the blaxxun Community Platform are places where people can meet online and interact in real time, in multiple media. All blaxxun products are fully compliant with existing open standards, including HTML, VRML and Java
™
. The blaxxun product line has received various awards, including c/nets Best of the Web award, PC Computing’s No.1 Cool Tool award, and BYTE’s Best of CeBIT 97 award for multimedia software.

Caligari Corp.

trueSpace3 introduces features not available in any other mid-range 3-D package, nor in many high-end workstations. This latest version of trueSpace touts new features such as real-time metaballs called Live Skin by Caligari, 3-D paint, inverse kinematics, forward dynamics, PlastiForm surface engraving, 3-D plug-ins, accurate collision detection, integrated VRML browser, VRML 2.0 support, support for the Microsoft Direct3D® API and more. Caligari has built upon its ease-of-use legacy by designing workstation power into the only 3-D product that integrates all its tools into one real-time, modeless environment in which objects are manipulated and edited in full 3-D perspective.

Construct

Crutch is a three-chapter digital comic.

It is 53 “pages” long, consisting of 3-D models, 2-D illustrations and audio.

It is one story told from three perspectives.

It is a digital comic, integrating tactile media.

It is an effort to combine incongruous protocols.

It is an exhumation of the myth of Prometheus.

It is a first, tenuous step toward multiperspective narrative.

It is a prototype and can be grown.

More information can be found at http://www.construct.net/ .

Curve Inc.

Founded in May 1996, Curve Inc. is a creative digital boutique specializing in the production of passive and interactive imagery and sound. Curve utilizes seasoned methodologies to develop, produce and implement advanced content solutions for next-generation interfaces, special venue entertainment and other interactive media. In addition, Curve is developing original content properties and provides new-media consulting services for many international companies including Sony and Microsoft Corp. Curve has recently completed production of Microsoft’s premier Multimedia Tools Sampler Disc. Curve can be reached at http://www.curve.net/ or (415) 882-9288.

Integrated Data Systems Inc.

VRealm Builder 2.0, named Best VRML Authoring Tool by Web Techniques magazine, provides a full VRML environment with smart authoring tools that allow developers to create complex shapes and realistic topographical landscapes, add realism through texture mapping, quickly animate VRML worlds, develop complex interaction through scripting, enhance Web performance, and integrate objects and worlds. This tool gives experienced VRML developers an easy-to-use alternative to hand-coding VRML and gives beginning VRML developers an easy method to learn the details of VRML.

Kinetix

The VRML Exporter Plug-in is a file exporter for 3D Studio MAX. It provides the ability to produce VRML 1.0 and VRML 2.0 as well as virtual reality behaviors language (VRBL). The product includes extensive support for VRML 2.0, including extensive animation support, mesh morphing, 3-D SoundTouch sensors, Proximity Sensors and Time Sensors.


Modelworks Software

SitePad Pro is targeted at users who need to edit VRML and associated languages at the source-code level. A key feature of SitePad Pro is users’ ability to write their own tools using JavaScript. This ability makes many complex and time-consuming editing tasks much easier, including the task of maintaining a large number of files. Other SitePad Pro features include an outline view of the content of open files, templates for all VRML 2.0 nodes, a project manager, a powerful finder toolbar, syntax coloring, custom first class file types, support for both Sun and Microsoft Java tools, and more.

Online Environs Inc.

The Online Environs Data Visualization Framework (DVF) creates dynamic 3-D VRML graphs and visualizations from information stored in remote databases. Virtually any database can be used to create a variety of custom and standard graph types, from basic 3-D bar charts to more exotic geometric visualizations. Dynamic updating allows real-time visualization of changing data streams without the need to rebuild the 3-D scene for each change. DVF can also be customized to create and manage dynamic 3-D worlds from databases of stored geometries. DVF is currently available as part of a customization service offered by Online Environs Inc.

Out of the Blue Design Ltd.

Working closely with marketing and advertising professionals, Out of the Blue Design brings the third dimension to business communications. Utilizing high-end animation and special effects technology, the Blue team creates television-quality advertisements for the Web without the wait normally associated with multimedia. Blue Advironments (which include sound, animation and/or interactivity) demonstrate that Web advertising can be fast and entertaining. VRML Ad Banners empower advertisers and allow them to brand their products in new and timely ways.

OZ Interactive

OZ is the leading provider of 3-D multiperson enabling technology and content for the Internet. OZ’s world-class designers pioneer the development of 3-D interactive channels, combining the best of multiperson interaction with creative, continuously updated content in rich virtual Web spaces. OZ’s 3-D entertainment software enables consumers to customize their own 3-D online personas, or avatars, for exploring, meeting and communicating with other people in virtual nightclubs, concert halls, classrooms and stores on the Internet. OZ has coupled this with powerful server and artificial intelligence technologies to give major companies the ability to bring their branded content to life with an unlimited number of customers in dynamic virtual communities on the Web.

ParaGraph International

Internet3D Space Builder (ISB) is the first PC-oriented VRML 2.0 authoring tool that provides the power of sophisticated 3-D authoring combined with the ease of use of ParaGraph’s award-winning Virtual Home Space Builder. With ISB, users can create complete 3-D worlds and publish them on the Web for anyone to visit and experience using standard VRML 2.0 browsers. ISB adds a new dimension of reality to Web sites with a complete library of editable 3-D shapes combined with interactive texture mapping that will bring 3-D spaces to life.

Internet3D Font Magic is the first VRML 2.0 authoring tool that allows any user to create 3-D interactive text logos for Web sites, signboards for virtual spaces, true 3-D signs and banners that are fully compatible with VRML 2.0 using any TrueType font. Color, style, bevel, depth and light source are all adjustable. The text is saved as a 3-D object in a VRML 2.0 file, which is viewable in any VRML 2.0 browser. Users enter text just like with a word processor, and then can modify the font as they would normally. The output is automatically native VRML 2.0, meaning the user does not need to have any 3-D experience to create 3-D texts.

Planet 9 Studios

Planet 9 Studios is releasing VirtualEARTH, a VRML 2.0 interface to access its online 3-D cities. Planet 9 Studios, the creator of VirtualSOMA, has built over 120 worlds on the Internet. Please visit it at http://www.planet9.com/ . It can be reached at e-mail@planet9.com for more information.

PLATINUM technology inc., VREAM Lab

PLATINUM VRCreator Learning Edition is powerful and easy-to-use VRML 2.0 authoring software. VRCreator lets users quickly and easily create VRML 2.0 content. The Learning Edition comes with a library of over 600 drag-and-drop assets (including 3-D models, colors, textures, sounds, and JavaScript behaviors) that can be used to create state-of-the-art VRML content. End users can create object animations using VRCreator’s keyframe editor. Content created with VRCreator is fully VRML 2.0-compliant and can be viewed using any VRML 2.0-compliant browser.

S3 Inc.

S3 Inc.’s RIO Software Developers Kit is a comprehensive tool that allows developers of VRML content to select, render and view any given RIO texture from the RIO library. RIO, or Redistributed Internet Objects, is a set of standard JPEG images that has gained wide industry support in its ability to offset the need to download texture data while viewing VRML worlds. For more information on the RIO SDK or the RIO library, please visit S3’s corporate Web site at http://www.S3.com/ .

Sculptware LLC

SiteSculptor is a VRML authoring tool based on a mature and robust CAD geometry engine. It is the first VRML authoring tool to offer industrial-strength modeling tools, NURBS surfaces, true CAD level solids modeling, and Boolean operators in an easy-to-use interface. SiteSculptor tools ease the creation of interesting and compelling VRML content and produce compact and efficient

VRML files. Automatic Levels of Detail, user-definable rendering methods, and customizable file formatting are just a few of the unique features in SiteSculptor.

A spin-off of technology and talent from CADKEY Inc., Sculptware is dedicated to bringing 3-D enabling technology to the desktop. Focusing on virtual reality modeling language authoring tools, Sculptware brings mature and robust CAD modeling software to this new market at an unbeatable price.

Sony

Sony provides Community Place Conductor, a sophisticated VRML 2.0 authoring environment for assembling VRML objects, defining VRML behaviors and developing Java programs in a template scheme. Sony also provides the Multi-User Testing Suite, allowing VRML multiuser content developers to test VRML 2.0-based multiuser 3-D spaces created by Community Place Conductor.

Viewpoint DataLabs

Viewpoint DataLabs, the worldwide leader in digital content creation and publishing, has provided more than 150 models in the VRML 2.0 format to Microsoft for use in its new VRML 2.0 CD-ROM being released at SIGGRAPH ’97. Dozens of Viewpoint 3-D models are incorporated throughout the navigation of the CD. In addition, Viewpoint’s models were used to create several sampler VRML applications found on the CD-ROM, including a customized commerce tool that demonstrates the benefits of integrating HTML text with VRML 3-D graphics. The CD also contains a library of more than 100 Viewpoint VRML 2.0 models that have been prelicensed by Microsoft. This effort is part of Viewpoint’s content licensing relationship with Microsoft, designed to help fuel Web, game and multimedia development.

Visible Decisions Inc.

Visible Decisions In3D is a comprehensive tool set for constructing 3-D business visualization applications. It is composed of a high-level, cross-platform C++ class library and a separate rapid application development tool. Applications built using Visible Decisions In3D support industry standards, including OpenGL, VRML97, ActiveX
™
technologies and Unicode.

Visible Decisions is a software company that specializes in the development of 3-D visualization tools that are used to build and deploy business visualization applications. For more information, visit it at http://www.vdi.com/ or call toll free, (888) 73D-DATA.

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