Low-Rent Virtual Reality with XML

January 19, 1999

Tim Bray

Late in 1998, with very little fanfare, a very little company named Flatland Online, Inc., announced a new application of XML: 3DML. While none of their marketing material actually admits that 3DML is XML (in fact they claim it's an extension of HTML), their developers do use the X-word in the technical newsgroups hosted at the Flatland web site.

3DML, as the name suggests, is a way to encode three-dimensional spaces. If you'd like to find out about 3DML, you have two choices: you can branch off here to a nice straightforward description of what 3DML is all about. If you're feeling a little bit more adventurous, has prepared an introduction to 3DML that's in 3DML. Here's a taste of how it looks to tempt you:

3dml screen shot

If you want to try this, you'll need first to download Rover, Flatland's 3DML browser. It's only available for Windows - different versions for IE and Netscape. It seems pretty safe; a couple of downloads of the Netscape version have worked first time and caused no other system problems.

Once you've installed Rover, it'll probably try to convince you to go to one of Flatland's own 3DML demos; resist the temptation and learn the XML-centric way by jumping here.

Once you've been through the demo, you might want to go read all that boring text about 3DML anyhow.