Thursday, 4 August

8:30 - 8:55 am

Room 501AB

Technical Track

The Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) ushered in a new era in computer graphics by providing the first international standard 3D format for the web (web3D). Unfortunately, some who tried VRML applications found they did not work and naturally blamed the language. However, the problem often lay in the sensitivity to different client software environments of the programming interfaces used to extend VRML. In many cases, VRML applications had to be extended to include things VRML lacked, such as sophisticated user interface and interactivity, database access, multiuser support, security, and system-integration support. These important aspects of modern systems were added via a programming interface called the External Authoring Interface (EAI). The problem was that applications based on the EAI would not work reliably due to changes in the client environment by competitive commercial stakeholders, which affected things like support for a required third party programming language. It is this problem that often lead to unsatisfactory user experiences, not VRML itself.

Below the client battlefield radar, three small web3D functions accidentally evolved, in symbiosis with the web, to provide an alternative integration method built on a simple but solid foundation: the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP). HTTP is the protocol from which the very fabric of the web was woven. This paper presents methods to integrate web3D application components directly via HTTP. The three web3D functions are used in combination to implement a communication cycle that makes use of persistent state stored in web services. The approach uses open standards, is portable across platforms, and resilient to changes in client environment. Applications based on this approach will work more reliably on disparate end-user systems and enable developers to leverage increasingly sophisticated web advances.

Chris Thorne

University of Western Australia and Ping Interactive Broadband
dragonmagi (at) gmail.com