Distributed Interactive Simulation
DIS-Java-VRML Working Group

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Project Overview

[Network <=> Java <=> VRML] The area of interest of this working group is the nexus of DIS, Java and VRML. The IEEE Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) Protocol is used to communicate state information (such as position, orientation, velocities and accelerations) among multiple entities participating in a shared network environment. Java is a portable networked programming language that can interoperate on any computer that includes a Web browser. The Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) enables platform-independent interactive three-dimensional (3D) graphics across the Internet, and can be used to compose sophisticated 3D virtual environments.

The DIS-Java-VRML Working Group is developing a free software library, written in Java and interoperable with both DIS and VRML. There are a number of people contributing to the public-domain code archive. This project began in early 1997 and remains active. This software is protected under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

In the past, virtual world applications using DIS were deployed on expensive hardware and with custom software implementations. NPSNET was the first multicast DIS example of a large-scale virtual world. Like many such systems, NPSNET is written in C++ and uses the Performer application programming interface (API) libraries on Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) graphics workstations, in order to create a sophisticated and capable distributed system.

The International Standards Organization (ISO)-approved VRML 97 specification includes the rules for incorporating Java inside a VRML scene. This presents interesting possibilities for implementing virtual worlds on both high-cost and low-cost hardware in a portable way. Rather than be constrained to specific hardware, a DIS-compatible virtual world might potentially be viewed on any computer with a network connection and a web browser. The construction of large physics-based virtual worlds can now become inexpensive, pervasive and scalable.

DIS, Java and VRML can provide all of the pertinent capabilities needed to implement large-scale virtual environments (LSVEs). DIS is essentially a behavior protocol tuned for physics-based (i.e. "real world") many-to-many interactions. Java is the programming language used to implement the DIS protocol, perform math calculations, communicate with the network and communicate with the VRML scene. VRML 3D graphics are used to model and render both local and remote entities in shared virtual worlds.

As specified in our working group charter, the objectives of the DIS-Java-VRML working group are:

The tasks remaining to achieve these goals are discussed on the work list page.

What's a Working Group? A Web3D Consortium (formerly VRML Consortium) working group is a technical committee that researches and proposes solutions to specific technical problems relating to VRML. You can read more about the purpose of WGs and their place in the overall scheme of things at the Web3D Consortium home page. Basically, things operate like the Klingon Empire: someone sees an opportunity, gathers a following by engaging in a lot of bellowing and bullying, and Does Something. The Technical Advisory Board (TAB) (formerly the VRML Review Board - VRB) has the opportunity to bless whatever comes out of the process, if they (and the rest of the VRML community) agree with it.

Our primary measure of success is easy-to-use code that helps build physics-based, internetworked, large-scale virtual environments (LSVEs). In other words: we are creating multicast network connectivity for VRML-based cyberspace.


We gratefully acknowledge that large portions of this work were funded by
        ONR Office of Naval Research (ONR) at www.onr.navy.mil
        Advanced Advanced Network and Services Inc.
National Tele-Immersion Initiative
at www.advanced.org
        NPS Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) at www.nps.navy.mil
We are carrying out additional work on large-scale networked software architectures which builds on the dis-java-vrml foundation. Topics include implementation of dial-a-behavior protocol (DBP), area-of-interest management (AOIM) and the virtual reality transfer protocol (vrtp). Please contact Don Brutzman if you are interested in research sponsorship opportunities.

October 1 2000 (official NPS disclaimer)
URL: www.web3D.org/WorkingGroups/vrtp/dis-java-vrml/dis-java-vrml.html
feedback: brutzman@nps.navy.mil & mcgredo@cs.nps.navy.mil