VRML stands for “Virtual Reality Modeling Language”. According to Wikipedia, VRML “is a standard file format for representing 3-dimensional (3D) interactive vector graphics, designed particularly with the World Wide Web in mind. It has been superseded by X3D.”
Not only has it been superseded by X3D, it’s pretty much obsolete on the web. Boutiquey web players exist – and the format is used for data storage in CAD systems – but people who are interested in “representing 3-dimensional (3D) interactive vector graphics, designed particularly with the World Wide Web in mind” have long since moved on to other technologies.
So how then to bring those old files back into the fold? I have many old VRML “worlds” that I wrote for Cosmo Player back in the ’90s. It would be great if I could open those files in one of the new technologies.
And it turns out the Blender is a tool that is up to the job.
Again, according to Wikipedia, Blender is “a professional free and open-source 3D computer graphics software product used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, interactive 3D applications and video games.”
But can Blender open old VRML files?
Yes, to some extent, it can. VRML is a lot like X3D – they are both quite XML-ish. Blender comes with an “import” function for X3D files – and this claims to be able to, and seems to be able to, load VRML2.0 files. It makes no claims about VRML97 files – and I haven’t tried yet – but after a few failed experiments, I’m glad to have found a way to access the stuff that’s in those old VRML files, without going back to a text-editor and an obscure application of plugin to view.
Here’s a file I haven’t seen in years, because I’ve never bothered to have a working VRML viewer in any of my computers, in Blender. It loaded with no complaints – I didn’t have to edit one character of the original file. A couple of the meshes were inverted – that was no problem to rectify, using the most basic funtions of Blender. And what I had was this:
Now, as for what to do with this – well, that comes down to me learning to use Blender better – and learning about at least some of the myriad ways to take things that have been crafted in Blender and make them exist on the open web.
But this is a great start. Transports my old virtual worlds 20 years into the future, where they can at least be fodder for my little experiments in the emerging 3D web.