Other VRML Browsers
Other VRML97 browsers that included some level of PNG support were
Dimension X's Liquid Reality, Netscape's Live3D, and Newfire's Torch.
Dimension X was acquired by Microsoft in 1997, and its 3D technology was
absorbed into the Liquid Motion animation tool. The Java-based Liquid Reality
browser itself was discontinued, but since its PNG support was fairly buggy
and usually crashed the browser (under both Solaris and Windows 95), it was
never a truly usable PNG-supporting VRML browser.
Netscape's Live3D browser, based on a VRML 1.0 browser (WebFX) acquired from
Paper Software, had good PNG support, aside from reversing all red and blue
color values and supporting only screendoor transparency. The rights to version
2.0 were acquired by SGI early in 1997, and it was renamed and released as
Cosmo Player 1.0 for the PC. With the Cosmo Player 2.0 rewrite, most traces
of Live3D vanished, although it was still bundled with Netscape Communicator
versions up through 4.04.
Newfire's Torch browser was a special-purpose, games-oriented VRML engine.
It was designed purely for speed and interactive performance, but it
nevertheless supported PNG, including a dithered form of screendoor transparency
that looked better than the usual flavor. Aside from using an 8-bit color
model regardless of display depth, its only known bug was a failure to compose
grayscale textures with the underlying material color. Unfortunately, it
disappeared when Newfire went bankrupt early in 1998.
In addition to the dead PNG-supporting browsers (let us hope there's no
connection to PNG support there!), two other VRML97 browsers were still under
active development in 1998: Sony's Community Place 2.0
(http://www.community-place.com/) and VRwave 0.9
(http://www.iicm.edu/vrwave/) from the Graz (Austria) University of
Technology. Neither supported PNG as of early 1999, but PNG support was
promised for both in upcoming releases.