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By Bernie Roehl

Worldview VRML Browser Available for the Macintosh

Intervista Software has released a version of their Worldview browser that runs on the Macintosh platform.

The Mac version of Worldview is designed to work with Internet Explorer, and is also available as a plug-in for Netscape. It uses the QuickDraw3D library to do the actual rendering, which should allow it to easily support 3D graphics accelerators. This is similar to the way Worldview uses Direct3D on the Windows platform.

Since Worldview for the Macintosh is derived from the original Windows version, it's likely to be fairly full-featured. This is good news indeed for Mac users, who have been asking for months when full VRML browses would become available for their machines.

A number of content creators use the Macintosh platform, and the availability of a VRML browser on the Mac is expected to make their job considerably easier.


VRML Consortium Elects President

Neil Trevett of 3D Labs has been elected president of the VRML Consoritum. The Consortium is an organization made up of some 60 firms that deal with 3D hardware, software or content for the internet.

Tony Parisi, of Intervista Software, was elected vice-president. Neither president nor vice-president is a paid position, and Trevett and Parisi are both serving on a part-time, volunteer basis.


VRML Consortium to Hold Joint Press Conference with Microsoft and Netscape

The VRML Consortium has announced that it will be holding a joint press conference with industry giants Microsoft and Netscape. This will be one of the rare occasions when those two arch-rivals share both a podium and a perspective.

While the details of the announcement were not available at press time, it's expected that the event will be mostly a show of solidarity between the two major providers of VRML browsers. The goal is to present a united front, and to demonstrate strong support for the VRML standard in the face of Sun's recent Java3d announcements.

VRMLSite will provide a report on the press conference as soon as more information becomes available.


SGI Turns Mars Pathfinder Mission into Combat Game

In a somewhat controversial move, Silicon Graphics has turned their 3D VRML model of the Mars Pathfinder into a real-time game that involves shooting missiles from the Sojourner rover.

"Rove Mars with a fully armed VRML Sojourner and take your best shot to outwit the evil Martian overlord," says the somewhat lurid description on the SGI web site.

While certainly an amusing twist, and a good demonstration of VRML's suitability for real-time 3D gaming, the demonstration has raised more than a few eyebrows along the way. The hugely successful NASA mission has returned a wealth of scientific data on the red planet, and has been a source of inspiration to many.

The actual Sojourner rover is, of course, unarmed.


VRML 98 Call for Participation Issued

An official Call for Participation has been issued for the VRML 98 Symposium. The Symposium is designed to bring together VRML software developers, content creators and end-users to discuss key issues in the implementation and future development of the language.

The Symposium will be held in next February in Monterey, California. Last year's conference attracted over 500 participants, and it's anticipated that this year's figure will be almost double that.

In addition to technical papers, the Symposium welcomes suggestions for tutorials and workshops, as well as demos of VRML software and innovative content. They're also open to video submissions.


TGS Releases 3D Development Tools

Template Graphics Software has announced a suite of new authoring tools that are designed to simplify the task of 3D web content creation. Their key products are 3Space Publisher and 3Space Assistant V2.0, both for the Windows platform.

TGS also announced that they'll be demonstrating Hewlett-Packard's DirectModel API, which is designed to improve rendering performance using a variety of high-level culling and simplification algorithms.


Bernie Roehl is a software developer based at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He is probably best known in VR circles for REND386 and AVRIL, free VR software packages that are still in widespread use.

Bernie is also the author of two books on VR, "Virtual Reality Creations" and "Playing God: Creating Virtual Worlds", and he recently co-authored Que's "Special Edition: Using VRML". He is currently writing for VR News, CyberEdge Journal and VRMLSite and has previously written for VR World and VR Special Report. Bernie is also a popular speaker on VR and VRML at various conferences throughout the year.

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