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VAXML (Virtual Anatomy eXtensible Markup Language) is a simple markup-language designed to ease the file-format problems associated with the sharing of ‘virtual specimen’ data. VAXML datasets use one or more STL or PLY files (either binary or ascii) to define the geometry of objects that comprise the dataset, together with one VAXML file that provides metadata on the dataset as a whole, and specifies how the STL/PLY files are to be put together. VAXML is an XML-based language.

STL and PLY files can be generated by most 3D packages from any form of triangle-mesh dataset. STL files are the most reliable interchange format; PLY files generated by some software might not be compatible with SPIERSview, but PLY files can incorporate surface colour information (e.g. from laser scanners).VAXML files can be either hand-generated (see examples and specifications below), or generated by SPIERSview. VAXML exporters and importers for other 3D software packages should be simple to develop, but do not as yet exist.

SPIERSview can act as a free, multiplatform and high-performance VAXML viewer.