VRML Viewer: a Code-to-3D web platform in Express JS
1 min read

VRML Viewer: a Code-to-3D web platform in Express JS

In 2016 I was the lead developer of VRML Viewer as an intern at LVIS, a AR/VR Lab at Universidade de Brasília. It allows students without no background in coding to draw 3D objects and play with them right in the browser using VRML, a language that is no longer used for commercial purposes but is still very welcoming to people new to programming with an interest in code-generated 3D forms. online demo: http://vrmlviewer.herokuapp.com/views
repo: https://github.com/teogenesmoura/vrmlviewer

The challenge was to replace an old desktop tool with a web app. The choice to use Javascript brought a challenge: There is no native VRML interpreter/parser written in Javascript and porting any of the existing ones to Javascript was a 6-months (at least!) project in itself.

In order to overcome that issue,  VRML Viewer relied on Node's child processes to interact with an open source Java transpiler that allowed us to turn VRML code to X3D, a modern browser-friendly format.After we received the VRML code from students, we passed it as an argument to the child process and the X3D code it returned to us was sent to the user's browser through an AJAX call, meaning there is no page reload in the app.I'm particularly proud of this app because there were close to a 1000 successful hits to it by the students - meaning they were playing with it even outside of the class.

See you next time,