Introducing X3D

What is X3D?

X3D is:

  • A simple text language for describing 3-D shapes and interactive environments
  • X3D text files use a .x3d, x3dj, x3dv, or .x3db extension
    • .x3d (XML) - save to parse
    • .x3dv (VRML) - easy to learn
    • .x3dj (JSON) - good for scripting
    • .x3db (Binary) - good for large models

Note: All examples are in X3D XML and X3D Classic Encoded file format (.x3d and .x3dv).

What do I need to use X3D?

You can view X3D files using an X3D browser:

  • A X3D standalone application
  • A X3D JavaScript plug-in like to an HTML browser

You can view X3D files from your local hard disk, or from the Internet.

How can X3D be used on a Web page?

  • Fill Web page
  • Embed into Web page
  • Fill Web page frame
  • Embed into Web page frame
  • Embed multiple times

What do I need to develop in X3D?

You can construct X3D files using:

  • A text editor
  • A authoring tool
  • A 3D modeler and format translator
  • A shape generator (like a Python, or Perl script)

Should I use a text editor?


  • No new software to buy
  • Access to all X3D features
  • Detailed control of world efficiency


  • Hard to author complex 3D shapes
  • Requires knowledge of X3D syntax

Should I use a authoring tool?


  • Easy 3-D drawing and animating user interface
  • Little need to learn X3D syntax


  • May not support all X3D features
  • May not produce most efficient X3D

Should I use a 3D modeler and format translator?


  • Very powerful drawing and animating features
  • Can make photo-realistic images too


  • May not support all X3D features
  • May not produce most efficient X3D
  • Not designed for X3D
  • Often a one-way path from 3D modeler into X3D
  • Easy to make shapes that are too complex

Should I use a shape generator?


  • Easy way to generate complex shapes
  • Fractal mountains, logos, etc.
  • Generate X3D from PHP scripts
  • Common to extend science applications to generate X3D


  • Only suitable for narrow set of shapes
  • Best used with other software
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