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X3D — Extensible 3D Graphics
Filename extension
  • .x3d, .x3dv (plain text; v = VRML)
  • .x3db, .x3dz, .x3dbz, .x3dvz (compressed; b = binary, z = gzip)
Internet media type
  • model/x3d+xml
  • model/x3d+binary
  • model/x3d+vrml
Initial release2004; 19 years ago (2004)
Latest release
2015; 8 years ago (2015)
Type of format3D computer graphics
Extended fromVRML, XML, Gzip
StandardISO/IEC 19775/19776/19777

X3D (Extensible 3D) is a royalty-free ISO/IEC standard for declaratively representing 3D computer graphics. File format support includes XML, ClassicVRML, Compressed Binary Encoding (CBE) and a draft JSON encoding. X3D became the successor to the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) in 2001.[1] X3D features extensions to VRML (e.g. CAD, geospatial, humanoid animation, NURBS, etc.), the ability to encode the scene using an XML syntax as well as the Open Inventor-like syntax of VRML97, or binary formatting, and enhanced application programming interfaces (APIs).

The X3D extension supports multi-stage and multi-texture rendering; it also supports shading with lightmap and normalmap. Starting in 2010, X3D has supported deferred rendering architecture. Now X3D can import SSAO, CSM and Realtime Environment Reflection/Lighting. The user can also use optimizations including BSP/QuadTree/OctTree or culling in the X3D scene.

X3D can work with other open source standards including XML, DOM and XPath.


X3D defines several profiles (sets of components) for various levels of capability including X3D Core, X3D Interchange, X3D Interactive, X3D CADInterchange, X3D Immersive, and X3D Full. Browser makers can define their own component extensions prior to submitting them for standardisation by the Web3D Consortium. Formal review and approval is then performed by ISO/IEC.

Liaison and cooperation agreements are also in place between the Web3D Consortium and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) and the Khronos Group.

A subset of X3D is XMT-A, a variant of XMT, defined in MPEG-4 Part 11. It was designed to provide a link between X3D and 3D content in MPEG-4 (BIFS).[2]

The abstract specification for X3D (ISO/IEC 19775) was first approved by the ISO in 2004. The XML and ClassicVRML encodings for X3D (ISO/IEC 19776) were first approved in 2005.[3]


There are several applications, most of which are open-source software,[4] which natively parse and interpret X3D files, including the 3D graphics and animation editor Blender[5] and the Sun Microsystems virtual world client Project Wonderland.[6] An X3D applet is a software program that runs within a web browser and displays content in 3D, using OpenGL 3D graphics technology to display X3D content in several different browsers (IE, Safari, Firefox) across several different operating systems[7] (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux). However, X3D has not received as wide acceptance as that of other, more notable software applications.

In the 2000s, many companies such as Bitmanagement improved the quality level of virtual effects in X3D to the quality level of DirectX 9.0c, but at the expense of using proprietary solutions. All main features including game modeling are already complete. They include multi-pass render with low level setting for Z-buffer, BlendOp, AlphaOp, Stencil,[8] Multi-texture,[9] Shader with HLSL and GLSL support,[10] real-time Render To Texture, Multi Render Target (MRT) and post-processing.[11] Many demos shows that X3D already supports lightmap, normal mapping, SSAO, CSM and real-time environment reflection along with other virtual effects.[12]

Striving to become the 3D standard for the Web, X3D is designed to be as integrated into HTML5 pages as other XML standards such as MathML and SVG. X3DOM is a proposed syntax model and its implementation as a script library[13] that demonstrates how this integration can be achieved without a browser plugin, using only WebGL and JavaScript.[14]


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<X3D profile="Interchange" version="3.2"
    <IndexedFaceSet coordIndex="0 1 2">
      <Coordinate point="0 0 0 1 0 0 0.5 1 0"/>

The VRML representation is the same as VRML § Example, except that the version line is changed to reflect the X3D profile (#X3D V3.2 utf8).

For JSON and binary formats, see web3D for a list of tools.[15]


  • WebGL: JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D graphics and 2D graphics within any compatible web browser, managed by the Khronos Group
  • 3DMLW: 3D Markup Language for Web
  • glTF: a standard file format for three-dimensional scenes and models managed by the Khronos Group
  • COLLADA: interchange file format for interactive 3D applications, managed by the Khronos Group
  • O3D: developed by Google
  • U3D: Ecma International standard ECMA-363
  • VRML: precursor of X3D
  • 3MF: An XML-based format that includes 3D additive manufacturing data such as material properties.
  • A-Frame: An HTML-based declarative 3D scene-graph language and interaction framework commonly used for WebVR

See also


  1. ^ Paul Festa and John Borland (19 May 2005). "Is a 3D web more than just empty promises?". CNET News.com. Archived from the original on 12 November 2009.
  2. ^ http://www.web3d.org/specifications/X3dNodeInventoryComparison-X3dInteractiveMpeg4Interactive.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ X3D FAQ – "What is the status of the X3D specification?" Archived July 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on November 30, 2007.
  4. ^ "X3D Open Source Projects". Web3d.org. Retrieved 2010-02-23. Archived February 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Blender Model Export to X3D
  6. ^ "Project Wonderland". Research.sun.com. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2010-02-23. Archived July 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "X3D applet". Members.shaw.ca. Retrieved 2010-02-23. Archived September 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ DrawGroup & DrawOp
  9. ^ Multitexturing Archived July 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Programmable shaders component Archived July 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Scene postprocessing support
  12. ^ VRML X3D and Realtime Web3D
  13. ^ X3DOM JavaScript library
  14. ^ X3D and HTML5: X3DOM proposal, Web3D wiki. Archived October 26, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "X3D to JSON Stylesheet Converter". www.web3d.org.

External links