I've had a keen interest in 3D based networked systems for a number
of years and have been working on such a system for PCs for about 3
years, called Cyberterm. It still isn't finished, but interested
people can get docs from ftp.adelaide.edu.au:/pub/cyberterm.
>From the VRML docs, I think it is a natural step in the right
direction. I wonder about a few things though.
The entire world will be stationary with a fixed light source. I know
this is early days, but I'd like some thought put into being able to
*see* gophers, agents etc shooting off at the user's behest. This is a
client thing I know, but it would help I think.
Is there a real need for hosts to have fixed places in a 3D volume? If
a given document/scene has a number of links to other
machines/scenes/docs then the client could display the links as roads
or paths, leading from the required objects within the scene, to
*arbitrary locations* which are outside the scene. As the user
wouldn't yet know what was at the end of that link, does it really
matter *which* way it is? The VRML could contain hints as to how the
client should present the link to the user (as a stair, path,
highlighted text etc). This way all users would see the same physical
scene, but if different users see different types of connections
between scenes, does that really matter? If the link were represented
depending on vague parameters within the scene (like a book on a
bookshelf may have a link that is a hole in the ground that you jump
into, but a fence with a link in it would be a gate), automatically by
the client, then a change in the scene would (possibly) change the
link, alerting users to modifications of a VRML document.
Also, the examination and navigation of a 3D scene is non-trivial and
takes considerably more time than examination of a text document.
A 3D scene can contain much more data but just how much data is in one
HTML document at the moment? If one were to enter a scene with
hundreds of links, then the design of the scene becomes crucial to
allow easy and efficient access to the data and links so that users do
not waste their time or miss important features/links.
I guess one needs to consider if the data is the important thing, or
the links between (and hence access to) the data. If the links aren't
as important then I can't quite see the need to change the URL format.
Obviously, there's no point in having great data if you can't find or
get to it, and there's no point in carefully placing the data if it's
too hard to access once you've found it. :-)
Just my 2c worth.
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