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The VRML 2.0 Handbook: Building Moving Worlds on the Web 1st Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342479447
ISBN-10: 0201479443
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Many programmers can recall a moment when they first felt like a minor deity. My introduction to such hubris-laden megalomania was when I wrote a Modula-2 program to simulate the population dynamics of two competing bird species. I knew better, but it really felt like those digital birds were alive, even though they were represented simply by columns of numbers on a printout! Though now older and slightly wiser, part of me still longs to create even more complex, visual and 3D worlds in the computer, and I envy programmers whose first mythopoeic moment is in creating a VR world.

One of these days I'll get back to making VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) virtual worlds either for legitimate work or for the sheer euphoria of creating simulated worlds. A year ago, the obvious choice was Pesce's VRML; currently, I'd recommend VRML Handbook, written by staff members of Silicon Graphics who clearly know whereof they speak.

From the Back Cover

A Complete, Practical Guide for VRML 2.0 World Builders Version 2.0 of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language allows world designers to create interactive animated 3D virtual worlds. The VRML 2.0 Handbook guides readers through the development of such a world, using a VRML reconstruction of the Aztec city Tenochtitlan. This guide offers practical, platform-independent tips and examples from the experts at Silicon Graphics, Inc., leaders in formulating and developing VRML. Detailed examples and diagrams provide a solid foundation in VRML 2.0 for a wide range of content creators, from artists and designers with little programming background to seasoned computer experts with modest graphics skills.

With VRML 2.0, you can create robots and people that walk and run, dogs that bark, and gurgling streams. You can design objects that react to user actions, such as doors that open when clicked. You can include sensors that respond when the user approaches a certain area--triggering an alarm, for instance, or starting an animation. This handbook explains how to use all of VRML 2.0's features, including:

  • movies and 3D sounds
  • visual effects such as fog and scenic panoramas with mountains, plains, or cityscapes
  • collision detection, which prevents users from walking through walls
  • sensors that keep track of the passage of time and respond to user actions such as clicking an object or moving to a certain location
  • interpolators, which make it easy to include key-frame animation in your worlds
  • the Script node, which allows you to write mini-programs in a language such as JavaScript or Java™, to build logic into your VRML world
  • a prototyping feature that allows you to package objects you create and let other world authors use and modify them.


0201479443B04062001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (October 20, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201479443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201479447
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,318,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Well, I could have started talking about the book and how nicely written it was, but first, I believe you should ponder if learning virtual reality technology would really add some 'plus' to your CV.
VRML was a good idea that could not survive to Macromedia Flash and 3D Studio tachnical marriage through Vecta 3D. Until 1999 when Vecta 3D, the 3d studio plugin that exports 3D studio files to Flash animation, was created and a bunch of other minor programs also intended to produce 3D animation for the Web popped out, VRML seemed a good alternative to the interactivity we all missed. I myself bought this book in 1998 and was impressed with the quantity of sites that were using VRML. I remember Cosmo had a wonderful page full of demo software and I had all of them, Blaxxun was and still is one of the major exponents of that technology and I was constantly visiting their page for plugin updates. But soon, Cosmo pages could not be reached anymore and all that software simply disappeared into the far distant world of SGI platforms. At that time, there was a boom of chats and virtual worlds and each one of them seemed to be programmed in a different way with a different language than VRML, you could settle in one of these worlds but you could not create your own furniture, or design your garden with the pictures of your own real life house garden. You could not add your own touch, you had to pay to be there and you did not have a place to put what you designed.
Then it came the final cut, SGI simply removed the city it had created for the book, the case study simply disappeared. In a certain point-of-view, it is kind of immoral that a company still sell a book they do not back up anymore.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book recently (although in computing book terms it is old - being published in 1996). It had some good reviews. The book is not for the complete beginner to IT. Some experience of VRML 1.0 or HTML or other programming systems is needed. I am an experienced programmer of 30 years with Web and other IT skills.
The book relies very heavily on a case study whose URL is given in the book; And herein lies the problem with this book - the case study is no longer available at the given URL or anywhere else. Despite extensive searches on the web and in newsgroups (with many helpful suggestions) the case study has disappeared. The publishers were unable to help and stated 'political issues'.
The book should be bought with extreme caution. It would take the most determined devotee to gain the maximum benefit from the book since some of the case study is not printed in the book. It might be wise for the publishers to either withdraw the book or sell the book at a reduced price with a warning. All publishers should ensure that software supporting a book should be either available at the publisher's web site where they can have control over it, or issued on a CD-Rom with the book.
The book may be a worthwhile purchase but I am unable to say as I am not yet the 'most determined devotee'. The Star Rating above is arbitrary. I would have preferred to have left it blank. I shall be looking for another book to help me learn VRML.
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Format: Paperback
You can tell that there's a whole lot more to VRML 2.0
than to VRML 1.0 by the books you need to have. While
one could recommend Pesce's book (despite all the
fluff and out of date material) as the only book you
need to learn VRML 1.0, no comprehensive book for 2.0
has appeared, or even seems likely to appear.

Hartman and Wernecke take a tutorial approach and
introduce the subjects in a fine pedagogical order.
I'd built some Inventor and some VRML 1.0, and
after a morning spent reading the book and playing
with the examples on the website, I was, if not
instantly great at building VRML 2.0 worlds, at least
able to read a VRML 2.0 file with some understanding
and know how to change the geometry and appearance
and add nodes of my own.

I can only give 9 out of 10, because I took off points
for three weaknesses: (a) the examples, though good
VRML, often don't have an enclosing Group node -- it's
never made clear which (if any) nodes ought to be
outside the master Group; (b) the discussion on PROTOs
is entirely too brief; and (c) the website needs to
be updated -- it hasn't caught up with SGI's own
Cosmo Player's current release for the PC (e.g., some
of the worlds marked SGI now work fine for the PC).

But give it an extra point for an extremely thorough
discussion of sensors and routing: the authors believed
that most people want to make their worlds move and
interact with the people who visit them, and they
make sure readers have all the tools and even point
out common beginner mistakes.
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Format: Paperback
As mentioned before by other customers, the URL for the case study cannot be found. This book has been recommended by a professor teaching computer graphics, which is why I purchased it. Not finding this code on the web as promised infuriates me. Time is of the essence in classroom assignments and wasting time searching for something that turns out not to be there is frustrating. SGI, Hartman and Wernecke should be ashamed of themselves.
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