WebScylla: A 3D web application to visualise the colonisation of an artificial reef

Benjamin T. Francis, Robert J. Stone

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)


Scylla is Europe's first artificial reef and was created by the scuttling of a former Royal Navy frigate off the UK coast in Cornwall. As well as being a popular attraction for divers, the colonisation of the reef is of great interest to marine biologists. A recent research programme undertaken by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) has delivered an interactive 3D model of the Scylla. The aim of this program is to promote a greater educational and scientific understanding of the fragility of marine ecosystems. In its current form, the Virtual Scylla exists as a "kiosk"based exhibit, resulting in only limited handson access by visitors to the NMA. eXtensible 3D (X3D) is a royaltyfree standard which makes it possible to deliver interactive 3D content over the World Wide Web. X3D has previously been used for scientific visualisation in many academic fields. The WebScylla project aims to create an X3D version of the Virtual Scylla which can be delivered over the Web for use as an extensible scientific and educational tool. A web application framework following the ModelViewController (MVC) design pattern is used to rapidly develop a 3D web application to visualise colonisation data relating the Scylla reef which is stored in a relational database. AJAX techniques are used to create a highly interactive and responsive user interface to this application using a hybrid of XHTML and X3D components. It is concluded that MVC frameworks can be a powerful tool for the rapid development of 3D web applications and are particularly suited to datacentric applications. Problems encountered and lessons learned include issues in developing effective user interfaces for visualisation tools using interactive computer graphics and a discussion of some limitations of existing X3D implementations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Web3D 2009
Subtitle of host publicationThe 14th International Conference on Web3D Technology
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2009
Event14th International Conference on 3D Web Technology, Web3D '09 - Darmstadt, Germany
Duration: 16 Jun 200917 Jun 2009


Conference14th International Conference on 3D Web Technology, Web3D '09


  • AJAX
  • Marine biology
  • Modelviewcontroller
  • Visualisation
  • X3D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Software


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