[X3D-Public] authoring environments and browsers: why both?

giles giles at yumetech.com
Tue May 12 17:16:40 PDT 2009

John Carlson wrote:
> Why are there both authoring environments and browers/players?  
> Shouldn't a browser be able to support/deliver an authoring application?
> I realize the same dichotomy has existed with HTML as well--but there 
> are HTML browsers which support editing, right?  Is there something 
> missing from VRML/X3D which only authoring environments provide?  Would 
> providing these within the context of VRML/X3D make a better standard?
A system optimized for playback is architected fairly different then one 
made for authoring.  Authoring systems are typically about flexibility 
with lots of extra data floating around.  Browsers are typically about 
the fastest, smallest playback of the content.

Doesn't mean you can't combine them but I doubt a combined version would 
be as performant as an optimized player.

A simple example from the spec would be an ElevationGrid.  Its height 
field is not an input/output field.  So a browser can in theory throw 
away the height data after it has generated the triangles needed.  An 
authoring application cannot as you might wish to edit those values. 
Tradeoffs like this abound in the spec.  Ie VRML and X3D have left many 
places where a browser can optimize playback by not having to honor 
requests for data in its original form.

Alan Hudson

President Yumetech, Inc.                               www.yumetech.com
President Web3D Consortium                             www.web3d.org
206 340 8900 ext 111

Open Source CAN be free, as in "free puppy"

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