1. About VRML

1.1 What is VRML?

The Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) allows you to describe 3D objects, and combine them into interactive scenes and worlds. The virtual worlds - which can integrate 3D graphics, multimedia, and interactivity - can be accessed through the WWW (http). The remote users can explore the content interactively in much more sophisticated ways than clicking/scrolling.

VRML is not a programming language like JAVA, nor is it a "Markup Language" like HTML. It is a modelling language, which means you use it to describe 3D scenes. It's more complex than HTML, but less complex (except for the scripting capability) than a programming language.

In short:

VRML is a (text)file-format that integrates 3D graphics and multimedia: a simple language for describing 3D shapes and interactive environments.

You can create(write) a VRML file using either any text editor or "wordbuilder" authoring software. To view a VRML file you need either a standalone VRML browser or a Netscape plug-in.
You should always distinguish between VRML 1.0 and 2.0 (and hopefully in the near future VRML98) browsers/plugins/authoring tools. To view/explore a VRML 2.0 world you need a VRML 2.0 browser/plugin, in the other hand (in most cases) you can use VRML 2.0 browsers/plugins to examine VRML 1.0 files.
Obviously you cant't create VRML 2.0 content with a 1.0 authoring tool.

There are differences between the VRML 1.0 and 2.0 formats: we will study the 2.0 spec.

1.2 What's new in VRML 2.0?

VRML 1.0 allowed you to create static 3D worlds assembled from static objects, which could be hyperlinked to other worlds, as well as to HTML documents. Visitors of the worlds were able to "fly" or "walk" around the static objects, and the only way of interaction was possible by "clicking" on a hyperlinked object, which worked like a hyperlink on a www-page: dropped you to the target of the link.

In VRML 2.0 objects can be animated, and they can respond to both time-based and user-initiated events. VRML 2.0 also allows you to incorporate multimedia objects(for example sound and movies) in your scenes.

The new features can be grouped: