Will Java 3D replace VRML?

Bill Day

Java 3D will not replace VRML. In fact, the two are largely complementary. VRML is predominantly a standard file format for 3D data for the Web, while Java 3D is predominantly a 3D graphics runtime system.

Java 3D provides a runtime 3D API, first and foremost. You can do more programmatically with Java 3D, but you probably don't want to build all your content (3D models) by assembling nodes in your Java 3D code. For a realistic and complicated world, you probably want to build your models (or have someone else build them) using modeling programs.

VRML certainly isn't the only file format choice for 3D content, but it is a good one: It is an ISO standard, and it was designed for the Web from the beginning, so it's fairly compact and browser-friendly. If you create models in VRML, or in the follow-on XML-based Extensible 3D (X3D) graphics markup, you will be able to load your content in your Java 3D applications and simultaneously repurpose it for Web sites and other uses.

For more information on loading 3D content into Java 3D, please refer to the related FAQ entries Java 3D loaders in general and VRML loaders for Java 3D in particular.