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Greg Roelofs:
VRML 97 Trip Report
from TBTF for 1997-03-21

o While you're here why not look around?



March 21, 1997

The following material is Copyright © 1997 by Greg Roelofs.

VRML 97, http://www.sdsc.edu/vrml97/
23-26 February 1997
Monterey, CA

Overall Impression
This was one of the best conferences I've ever attended; it was small enough (500 attendees) not to be overwhelming, had a single track for technical papers, had incredibly good content and gave a good overview of the current state of the industry. (I'm speaking as a technical person rather than a content/designer type; the latter might well have found it too technical. It felt a lot like an academic conference to me, which I liked.) Also, the toys were good....

Schedule, 23-27 February

Sunday: working groups
Monday: working groups, tutorials, demo night
Tuesday: working groups, papers, panels, exhibits, Aquarium dinner
Wednesday: working groups, papers, panels, exhibits
Thursday: [Cosmo Worlds tutorials]



Closing Comments

Right now the VRML phenomenon feels a lot like the very early days of the World Wide Web, except that this time more companies are aware of the potential for a huge explosion in interest, if not profitability. (As we all know, about the only folks making money off the Web are those selling content-creation tools or advertising space at a few popular sites, or those who got an IPO out at the right time...)

The browsers are very strongly reminiscent of the original NCSA Mosaic, in the sense of being functional but not highly optimized. It seems clear that companies like Newfire hope to pull the same coup Netscape did and become the de facto standard among VRML browsers. Let's just hope these companies don't similarly fragment the VRML standard. (For the record, Newfire claims to be implementing their BSP stuff via VRML 2 prototypes, which is the accepted method for extending the language. Other browsers will simply ignore the additional information.) A personal peeve is that almost none of them support the required PNG image format yet; of more than half a dozen browsers I've tested, only the Irix version of Cosmo Player does so far.

Meanwhile the authoring tools are pretty weak; Cosmo Worlds is probably the most complete, but it's only available for SGI's Irix workstations, and even it doesn't do much to help the user optimize his or her worlds automatically. IDS, Dimension X, VREAM and others are joining the fray, however, and no one doubts that there will be considerable improvement over the next few months.

Last modified 12 March 1997 by Greg Roelofs ( roelofs at <prpa dot philips dot com>), you betcha.

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