Grafman's VRML Tools Review

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[VR-Pick] VR-Pick Of The Month - February 1997

SGI's Cosmo Player Is a VRML 2.0 plugin that provides good navigation, excellent rendering, and support for their proposed VRMLScript language for adding 3D behaviors. This is a major improvement over their earlier VRML 1.0 plugins.

VRML Browser Comparisons

The following is a short list of VRML 1.0 browser comparisons for NT.

An extensive list of VRML 1.0 and VRML 2.0 browsers is available at the VRML Repository.

NT Time To Load Frames/Sec Rendering Navigation Comments

WebFX beta 4
59 Sec
Good image rendering,
tiling and materials
Intuitive, smooth navigation Netscape Plugin
Collision Detection
Animated Textures
Background images

VR Scout 1.2
1 Min 12 Sec
Good image rendering,
very good tiling,
problems w/ materials
Improved since last release,
but still jerky,
and has problems
w/ some anchors
Netscape Plugin
Partial Collision Detection

WebSpace 1.0
beta 1
10 Min 16 Sec
29 Secs/Frame
Good rendering Cute navigation tools TOO SLOW TO USE
World View 0.9e Failed To Load
No Texture Mapping Fairly Intuitive Works fine on small,
simple objects
Fountain 0.9 Failed To Load
Excellent rendering Terrible UI TrueSpace compatible
Win95 Time To Load Frames/Sec Rendering Navigation Comments

Virtual Explorer
beta 1.1
2 Min 13 Sec
Good image rendering,
though some images are missing;
tiling sizes wrong
Some anchors do not work
Collision Detection
Improved disk thrashing bug


Three VRML browsers succeeded in displaying the Gallery on NT: WebFX, VR Scout and WebSpace 1.0 beta 1 (note: WebSpace 1.0 beta 2 failed to load the Gallery).

WorldView would not launch at 24 bit mode; it launched at 8 and 16 bit mode but failed to load/display the Gallery. Fountain could not load most VRML files I threw at it.

Microsoft's Virtual Explorer does not support NT, and was tested on a 75Mhz i486 with 12M RAM, running Win95, with a Diamond Steath 64 video card at 800x600x24 bits.

Test Platform

All reviews are based on publically FTP-able releases. Orb ratings are based on how well standard VRML is implemented and are intended to be objective reviews. Pick Of The Month takes other factors into account - such as extensions, support, general look&feel - and may be more subjective.

The following VRML browsers were tested on a 90Mhz Pentium with 32M RAM, running NT 3.51, with a Diamond Steath 64 video card at 800x600x24 bits.

The VRML world used to test these browsers is Grafman's Gallery -- the Gallery was loaded from a local disk. All browsers were set to their fastest display mode.

Frames per second were measured by counting the number of frames required to rotate 360 degrees, then dividing that by the number of seconds it took to turn a full circle.



VR Scout

Virtual Explorer


VR-Pick News

Feb. 12, 1996

Paper Software and Netscape jointly announce Netscape's intention of acquiring Paper Software, and will be bundling Software's Live3D VRML interface in Netscape's Navigator product.

Live3D is based on the proposed Moving Worlds specification, which provides portable, 3D automation and behavior via Java. This will be in direct competition to Microsoft's platform-specific Active VRML.

This gives Paper Software's WebFX VRML technology a significant boost in its effort to become the defacto standard for 3D internet presentations and access.

Jan. 12, 1996

Paper Software and Chaco are battling it out for the top slot as the best Windows VRML browser. Both companies have just issued new beta releases that work with Netscape's 2.0 beta 5 plugin interface.

While Paper Software's WebFX still has the edge on navigation and correct VRML material rendering, Chaco's recent 1.2 beta release of VR Scout has made major advances in performance and bug fixes:

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Virtual Explorer has really come along. It has significantly improved on its disk-thrashing bug, it added decent collision detection, and its rendering is very good. However, it is still somewhat slow and navigation is horrendous. Interesting enough, this is one of the few Windows VRML Browsers that cannot run on NT.

None of the other Windows VRML browsers are able to handle Grafman's Gallery.

Jan. 1, 1996

Happy New Years! VR Snowman received over 2000 hits in the month of December 1995.

Paper Software's WebFX was one of the few VRML browsers able to load and render VR Snowman, without blowing out your Virtual Memory.

Dec. 4, 1995

Introducing VR Snowman - a CGI-based, random VRML snowman generator. By passing it parameters, you can control the number of body segments created on the snowman; the size and position of the body segments, hat, eyes and nose vary, each time a new VR Snowman is created.

VR Snowman is surrounded by falling snowflakes. Using negative numbers for the body segments, you can generate a star background, visible on some VRML browsers (ie. WebFX).

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