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 Part Two: An Evaluation of VRML Modelling Tools previouscontentsstartnext

1. Introduction

1.1 VRML Modelling Tools

A VRML modelling tool is a software application that enables the user to create a 3D object or world, without having to directly edit a VRML file in a text editor. The availability of these applications is essential for the development of VRML, since creating VRML worlds "by hand" becomes much more difficult as the scene complexity increases, and also more importantly, it enables more people to become world builders by making the whole modelling process easier.

A wide range of applications could be described as VRML modelling tools, including file translators which convert model data from other 3D file formats into VRML, or specialised geometry generators, for example, terrain generators. However, for the purposes of this evaluation we will define a VRML modelling tool as:

A stand-alone application with an advanced graphical user interface (GUI), that allows the user to interactively create and view custom 3D shapes and worlds, and which can save and reload the scene data in a VRML file format.

This report will only be evaluating VRML 2.0 modelling tools. So, applications that can only save in the VRML 1.0 format will not be considered.

1.2 Evaluation Objectives

The number of VRML 2.0 modelling tools becoming available is steadily increasing, however they can also vary considerably in functionality and price. This report will evaluate a sample of these applications. It will compare their features, test how easy they are to use and identify how much of the VRML 2.0 specification they support.

Of course, the features of each product will change as newer versions are released and there will be other applications not included in this evaluation. Nevertheless, this report should still provide a useful indication of the range and type of applications available and the sort of features to look for.

1.3 Report Structure

The report is organised as follows:

Section 2, Software Selection describes the testing platform and the process for selecting the modelling tools for evaluation.

Section 3, Evaluation Methodology outlines the testing procedure and the criteria used in the evaluation.

Section 4, Software Overview discusses the main features of each application.

Section 5, Comparison of Features, presents the data in a table.

Section 6, Conclusions, summarizes the results of this evaluation.


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