Re: Scripts vs APIs

Michael D. Doyle (
Tue, 6 Sep 1994 10:49:42 -0700

> I think the issues are getting confused. I don't think that
>there is a half and half approach. VRML is a description language.
>There could be an API which would aid you in creating / editing and
>dealing with that language, but there shouldn't be anything you could do
>in the API that you couldn't do in the language. Look at Inventor or
>OOGL for an example of what I am talking about. The inventor file format
>encapsulates 3D and some interaction. The Inventor libraries let you do
>operations on the scene described by the file format. You can create an
>Inventor scene by entering in the file format directly or via the API.

I agree that confusion is beginning to reign here. The issue is whether to
base everything on a scripting language, thereby requiring that any existing
VR simulations be rebuilt using this scripting language, and that all new
simulations be constructed from a single set of primitives, or to use an API
which defines a standard set of interprocess communications protocols,
thereby allowing existing simulations to be incorporated in binary form and
new simulations to be constructed with the best tools availabale.

I am worried that if we try to come up with a definitive "VR language," no
one will come to our party. It is unrealistic to assume that engineers will
give up their favorite development platforms in order to develop
applications in VRML if a better alternative exists. Some will for purely
academic interest, but, when push comes to shove, the best development tools
will always win out. We have seen that an API approach is feasible. This
fact will not go away. I rather suggest that we should create a VRML that
is capable of coordinating and orchestrating API-based modules, allowing us
to embrace API advances without painting ourselves into a corner with a
language that predefines the possible range of capabilities of simulations.
* Michael D. Doyle, Ph.D. email: *
* Director, Health Informatics Lab phone: (510)522-5275 *
* Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine fax: (510)522-4439 *
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