X3D Roadmap

X3D Overview 

Roadmap Timeline positioning slide set:

Roadmap Notes: 

Features Comparison X3D and glTF (draft 29 FEB 2017):

Why X3D is a viable and proven ISO standard for 3D File Format and Rendering

X3D Adoption and Interoperability with other Web Standards and Content Creation Tools


The Web3D Consortium is an international, non-profit, industry/academia/agency/individual member supported Standards Development Organization (SDO). Web3D Consortium members create and promote open standards for real-time 3D communication. Our ISO standard is X3D (Extensible 3D) originated from VRML and is available in XML it includes a file format and a presentation format.

All Web3D standardization efforts also receive public scrutiny and comment as milestone requirements prior to formal ISO approval as International Standards. Web3D has a Category A liaison with ISO, providing all technical updates to the X3D family of standards for ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 24. The X3D Graphicsstandardsinclude full functional capabilities of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) 97 International Standard, ISO/IEC 14772-1:1997 and ISO/IEC 14772-2:2004. Backwards compatibility with VRML syntax is also maintained for all versions of X3D through the X3D Classic VRML Encoding, ISO/IEC 19776- 2. More details on X3D and VRML and applications known to have X3D or VRML output capabilities

The Web3D Consortium builds and maintains widely applicable standards through well-coordinated Liaison Partnerships with International Standards Organization (ISO), Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other organizations. Web3D Consortium membership is fully open to industry, government agencies, academia and individual professionals.

A great many tools and applications continue to support VRML import/export and modification, so X3D/VRML consistency provides valuable capabilities for printing 3D models. The X3D standard includes a CADGeometry Component which supports representation of product assembly structure and face features in X3D scenes.

The CADInterchange Profile defined in the X3D standard supports distillation of computer-aided design (CAD) data to downstream applications. Multiple conversionsroutesfrom STEP (ISO 10303) exchange files to X3D scenes have been identified, including standalone translation software and web based applications. Commercial CAD applications commonly support export to VRML file format which is a subset of X3D and readily converted to X3D files in Classic VRML or XML encoding. Broad X3D support.

X3D Features

Not only are X3D features numerous and selectable, they are also fully integrated in a consistent way so that tools and authors might easily use them. For example:

  • XML Integration enables simple X3D use with HTML, Web Services, etc.
  • Distributed Networks accessibility
  • Cross-platform, inter-application file and data transfer
  • Componentized: allows lightweight core 3D runtime delivery engine
  • Extensible: allows components to be added to extend functionality for vertical market applications and services
  • Profiled: standardized sets of extensions to meet specific application needs
  • Evolutionary: easy to update and preserve VRML97 content as X3D
  • Broadcast/Embedded Application Ready: from mobile phones to supercomputers
  • Real-Time: graphics are high quality, real-time, interactive, and include audio and video as well as 3D data.
  • Well-Specified: makes it easier to build conformant, consistent and bug-free implementations

X3D Support

  • 3D graphics and programmable shaders - Polygonal geometry, parametric geometry, hierarchical transformations, lighting, materials, multi-pass/multi-stage texture mapping, pixel and vertex shaders, hardware acceleration
  • 2D graphics - Spatialized text; 2D vector graphics; 2D/3D compositing
  • CAD data - Translation of CAD data to an open format for publishing and interactive media
  • Animation - Timers and interpolators to drive continous animations; humanoid animation and morphing
  • Spatialized audio and video - Audio-visual sources mapped onto geometry in the scene
  • User interaction - Mouse-based picking and dragging; keyboard input
  • Navigation - Cameras; user movement within the 3D scene; collision, proximity and visibility detection
  • User-defined objects - Ability to extend built-in browser functionality by creating user-defined data types
  • Scripting - Ability to dynamically change the scene via programming and scripting languages
  • Networking - Ability to compose a single X3D scene out of assets located on a network; hyperlinking of objects to other scenes or assets located on the World Wide Web
  • Physical simulation and real-time communication - Humanoid animation; geospatial datasets; integration with Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) protocols

X3D's layered Components and Profiles

The modular architecture of X3D allows for layered "profiles" that can provide increased functionality for immersive environments and enhanced interactivity or focused data interchange formats for vertical market applications within a small downloadable footprint. This footprint is composed of modular blocks of functionality ("Components"), that can be easily understood and implemented by application and content developers. Components can be individually extended or modified through adding new "levels", or new components can be added to introduce new features, such as streaming. Through this mechanism, advancements of the specification can move quickly because development in one area doesn't slow the specification as a whole. Importantly, the conformance requirements for a particular piece of content are unambiguously defined by indicating the profiles, components and levels required by that content.

  • Interchange is the basic profile for communicating between applications. It supports geometry, texturing, basic lighting, and animation. There is no run time model for rendering, making it very easy to use and integrate into any application.
  • Interactive profile enables basic interaction with a 3D environment by adding various sensor nodes for user navigation and interaction (e.g., PlaneSensor, TouchSensor, etc.), enhanced timing, and additional lighting (Spotlight, PointLight).
  • Immersive profile enables full 3D graphics and interaction, including audio support, collision, fog, and scripting.
  • Full profile includes all defined nodes including NURBS, H-Anim and GeoSpatial

The X in X3D stands for Extensible. X3D is highly modular in order to allow both authors and implementers to choose the palette of capability they might need for a given application area. This flexibility is a major virtue which lets the 3D content declare how much implementation support is needed.

For comparison purposes, 68 nodes are in the X3D Interactive profile which is lightweight and already runs on mobile devices. Approximately 10 new nodes are being considered for AR, of which only a portion are suitable for mobile. This is an area of active work: minimizing software footprint while maximizing user capability.

See Modular X3D.