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Information technology --
Computer graphics and image processing --
The Virtual Reality Modeling Language --
Part 1: Functional specification and UTF-8 encoding

1 Scope

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ISO/IEC 14772, the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), defines a file format that integrates 3D graphics and multimedia. Conceptually, each VRML file is a 3D time-based space that contains graphic and aural objects that can be dynamically modified through a variety of mechanisms. This part of ISO/IEC 14772 defines a primary set of objects and mechanisms that encourage composition, encapsulation, and extension.

The semantics of VRML describe an abstract functional behaviour of time-based, interactive 3D, multimedia information. ISO/IEC 14772 does not define physical devices or any other implementation-dependent concepts (e.g., screen resolution and input devices). ISO/IEC 14772 is intended for a wide variety of devices and applications, and provides wide latitude in interpretation and implementation of the functionality. For example, ISO/IEC 14772 does not assume the existence of a mouse or 2D display device.

Each VRML file:

  1. implicitly establishes a world coordinate space for all objects defined in the file, as well as all objects included by the file;
  2. explicitly defines and composes a set of 3D and multimedia objects;
  3. can specify hyperlinks to other files and applications;
  4. can define object behaviours.

An important characteristic of VRML files is the ability to compose files together through inclusion and to relate files together through hyperlinking. For example, consider the file earth.wrl which specifies a world that contains a sphere representing the earth. This file may also contain references to a variety of other VRML files representing cities on the earth (e.g., file paris.wrl). The enclosing file, earth.wrl, defines the coordinate system that all the cities reside in. Each city file defines the world coordinate system that the city resides in but that becomes a local coordinate system when contained by the earth file.

Hierarchical file inclusion enables the creation of arbitrarily large, dynamic worlds. Therefore, VRML ensures that each file is completely described by the objects contained within it.

Another essential characteristic of VRML is that it is intended to be used in a distributed environment such as the World Wide Web. There are various objects and mechanisms built into the language that support multiple distributed files, including:

  1. in-lining of other VRML files;
  2. hyperlinking to other files;
  3. using established Internet and ISO standards for other file formats;
  4. defining a compact syntax.

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