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1 Introduction

1.1 Adding the Third Dimension to the WWW

The World-Wide Web, which will be abbreviated to WWW or the Web throughout this document is an increasingly popular means of providing and accessing information. Its success is due to a variety of reasons, including:

One of the more recent developments of the World-Wide Web, is the establishment of the Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML) as the standard method for describing interactive three-dimensional virtual scenes on the Web. Like HTML, these 3D worlds can be hyperlinked to other resources on the Web. In fact, VRML can be thought of as a 3D equivalent of HTML, providing a three-dimensional interface to the WWW. This report will be looking in more detail at VRML and how it can be used. Incidently, VRML can be pronounced as 'vermal'.

Figure 1-1 A VRML model of the Barcelona Pavilion (67K)

1.2 Use in Art and Design Higher Education

The ability to create and explore three-dimensional environments on the World-Wide Web presents many interesting opportunities for art and design higher education, especially in the disciplines of architecture, interior design, landscape and 3D design. These subjects are concerned with the communication of ideas about structures and spaces. Computer modelling is now used widely in these areas, as a tool for understanding the spatial relationships within a 3D design. The importance of VRML is that it enables the models to be viewed by more people (potentially anyone with access to the WWW), on a variety of different computer systems. Hence VRML could be used as the medium for the public exhibition of work. The additional VRML multimedia feature of allowing objects to be hyperlinked to text, sounds, images, etc, may also make it a useful tool in teaching or research.

1.3 About this Report

This report has been written primarily with the requirements of potential VRML users in art and design higher education in mind. However, it should be of interest to people outside this sector as well. It is assumed that the reader is acquainted with some of the terminology and basic concepts of the WWW and 3D computer graphics.

The aims of the report are as follows:

This report has been produced as part of the Support Initiative for Multimedia Applications project, funded under the JISC New Technologies Initiative and administered by the Advisory Group on Computer Graphics (AGOCG).

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