3DML is a simple markup language very similar to HTML, the language used to build pages on the Web. 3DML creates, or "describes" Internet-ready, 3-dimensional rich media environments called SPOTs. Much of the syntax will be familiar to you, if you already know basic HTML.

3DML is unique because it allows you to build a 3D space on the Web without doing any 3D modeling. And you can integrate many kinds of media right into this 3D spot, including video, sound, animation, 2D graphics, and text. Building a 3DML space for the web is actually very similar to building in the real world using familiar pieces such as simple wooden blocks or even 2" x 4"s from the local lumberyard. In 3DML, there is a set of blocks which you put together to build a house, or a waterfall, or anything you desire. In the basic 3DML block set, there are blocks which are the shape ramps, columns, signs and more. The village 3DML block set has blocks shaped like trees, houses, and sidewalks. Each of these blocks is represented by a character on your keyboard.

Like an HTML file, a 3DML file has 2 major sections: the <HEAD> and the <BODY>.

The <HEAD> is the section where you set parameters that are true for the entire SPOT, such as the map dimensions, ambient light and sound, the sky texture, etc.

The <BODY> is the section where you can customize your Blocks, and where you create your actual map. The map is the heart of a 3DML file, where you use different kinds of Blocks (represented by ASCII characters) to build a 3D space. Each block occupies a space of 256 x 256 x 256 (pixels). Blocks are arranged into a grid pattern to create each horizontal level of a SPOT. Levels are stacked on top of each other to create multi-story SPOTs.

This tutorial will take you step by step through the process of creating a 3DML spot.

Before you begin the tutorial, there are 2 things you will need to do:

  • Download and install the Flatland Rover software
  • Download and install the tutorial files.

If you haven't downloaded your free Flatland Rover software, download Rover now!

There are also a few files you will need in order to follow along with the tutorial. You can get the tutorial files here. This download will unzip to a folder called Flatland Tutorial. Save your 3DML files that you create during the tutorial in this folder.

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