PLY is a computer file format known as the Polygon File Format or the Stanford Triangle Format. It was designed to store three-dimensional data from 3D scanners. The data storage format supports a relatively simple description of a single object as a list of nominally flat polygons.
VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) was originally known before 1995 as the Virtual Reality Markup Language. It is a standard file format for representing 3-dimensional (3D) interactive vector graphics, designed particularly with the World Wide Web in mind.
VRML is a text file format where, e.g., vertices and edges for a 3D polygon can be specified along with the surface color, UV mapped textures, shininess, transparency, and so on. URLs can be associated with graphical components so that a web browser might fetch a webpage or a new VRML file from the Internet when the user clicks on the specific graphical component. Animations, sounds, lighting, and other aspects of the virtual world can interact with the user or may be triggered by external events such as timers. A special Script Node allows the addition of program code (e.g., written in Java or ECMAScript) to a VRML file.
VRML files are commonly called "worlds" and have the *.wrl extension (for example island.wrl). VRML files are in plain text and generally compress well using gzip, useful for transferring over the internet more quickly (some gzip compressed files use the *.wrz extension). Many 3D modeling programs can save objects and scenes in VRML format.
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