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Startup to open source 3D Web technology

GEL set to compete with rival's DirectX-based technology

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Not so long ago, we reported on a Redmond, Washington-based start-up attempting to leverage Microsoft's DirectX as a standard for complex 3D environments on the Web. The technology, developed by WildTangent, uses scripting commands to generate interactive 3D worlds which are then rendered locally using DirectX's Direct3D component and a compatible graphics card. What made the system particularly interesting was that it was co-created by one Alex St. John, an erstwhile Microsoft employee who was one of the developers and "evangelist" of (surprise, surprise) DirectX. Now we hear that another DirectX-er, Servan Keondjian, the original author of Direct3D, is about to offer a very similar technology, through a company he co-founded, Ur Studios. But apart from an ActiveX control to patch it all into a Web browser, Ur, unlike WildTangent, appears to be taking a very non-Microsoft approach. Ur's system is called GEL (Graph Evaluation Language), and essentially allows the creation of complex, interactive 3D environments within Web browsers. Net clients essentially share a description of the object-oriented, non-polygonal 3D world in a peer-to-peer way, passing GEL messages back and forth as elements within the shared model change. Final rendering is handled through an OpenGL driver that patches in the client PC's graphics card. GEL will be released next month under an open source licence, so Ur is clearly hoping to get the technology widely adopted among the Linux community and -- more importantly -- ported over to platforms other than Windows and FreeBSD. Being tied into DirectX, WildTangent's cunningly entitled Web Driver for Streaming Interactive 2D/3D Media will only run under Windows. ® UR's GEL white paper can be found here.

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