This is the third in a series discussing the next generation of X3D. The current architecture of X3D does not support the industry standards in modeling, archival, and user experience. It uses a single primary file with additional external resources loaded as needed including other X3D files or media (images, audio, video, and scripts). The capabilities made available in the X3D files are either insufficient (e.g., lack of deformable skin animation) or in conflict with the major display environment (e.g., Scripts). This post describes a systems architecture with implications for content architecture that addresses these issues.
This is one in a series examining the purpose of X3D - where is it's niche in the electronic ecosystem and what function does it perform. The series also looks at where X3D needs to evolve to best serve the ecosystem. This post looks at animation. It was motivated by issues involving deformable skins that are needed to animate non-mechanical models.
X3D and VRML have been an international standard since 1997. They define a means to model and texture 3D geometry, animate it, and provide user interaction. As an International Standard (VRML: ISO/IEC 14772, and X3D: ISO/IEC 19775-19777) these have provided extraordinarly stable and long-lasting formats. Content developed 20 years ago still runs today. That is an important legacy that should not be lost. At the other end of the timescale (today), there are environments and capabilities that could not have been imagined when the first standard was approved. X3D needs to keep a foot in the ancient past (as far as computer time goes) and current so that history is not lost.