IIIF 3D Technical Specification Group Charter


As IIIF has evolved from an initial focus on 2D images, encompassing new media modalities such as audiovisual content with time-based data, we see a plethora of unmet use cases throughout the cultural heritage field relating to the display of 3D media and related metadata. We recognise these requirements and the need for further developing a conceptual framework, which can complement and extend existing IIIF specifications.

The IIIF 3D Technical Specification Group will collaboratively clarify and specify common interoperable frameworks pertaining to the 3D data domain. This will include ways to:

  • annotate 3D media of various types into a shared canvas space
  • annotate 3D media with commentary
  • combine 3D media with images and AV content within a shared space
  • specify the presentation (placement, orientation, and contextualization) of 3D media

The group will work with other standards bodies and 3D image viewer developers, and will collaboratively address challenges around this dynamic area, which shows great potential for a IIIF resolution, as practical options for media sharing and interchange, for which there is substantial demand and no demonstrably sustainable alternatives. Guided by widespread expertise from the 3D Community, committed to this purpose, the IIIF 3D TSG will outline sustainable options for the interworking of existing open standards, to provide recommendations for expansions to and modifications of IIIF APIs to better interoperate with the evolving digital ecosystem of online 3D content.


It is the intention of this group to explore suitable IIIF extensions and identify any necessary changes to the core IIIF specifications (e.g. adding a third physical dimension) to support display of 3D media using IIIF tools. After a period of time and suitable feedback from implementers, we expect to propose changes to the Presentation API, to accommodate stand alone and combinations of media, whether 2D, A/V or 3D.

This group will focus on the use cases identified, in versioned phases, including options to:

  • display a 3D model, specifying position, orientation, and scale
  • display a 3D model alongside a 2D image
  • display multiple 3D models in a shared space
  • annotate displayed 3D models with commentary
  • specify initial camera position, orientation, and target in 3D space

IIIF 3D TSG will look forward to working with other IIIF groups, especially where there are shared areas of interest (e.g. museums, archives, maps), and welcomes contributions to collection of user stories, ongoing community discussions, and specialist app development.


The expected initial deliverables are IIIF API extensions and a specification change to define interoperable methods to enable:

  • three-dimensionality via a third physical axis extending orthogonally from the traditional canvas model, with accommodation for the scene concept, and consideration for use cases and backward compatibility
  • viewing of 3D media, including combined media (multiple 3D assets and/or 3D and non-3D [2D or A/V] assets combined)
  • asset positioning, orientation and scaling
  • initial view, and shareable customised views
  • adding associated annotations and linked metadata


  • Group formation December 2021 - (See: IIIF 3D - TSG Preparation Checklist)
  • Research and secure funding for development work – through December 2022
  • Initial demo(s), testing, and feedback March 2023
  • Broad set of prototype demos with testing and feedback June 2023 (Annual Conference)
  • Draft specification change recommendations June 2025 (Annual Conference)
  • Proof of concept specification implementation December 2025 (Fall Working Meeting)

Communication Channels

Community Support

  • British Library (Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert)
  • Cyprus University of Technology / Digital Heritage Research Lab (Marinos Ioannides)
  • Deutsches Museum (Georg Hohmann)
  • Duke University (Doug Boyer)
  • Harvard Library (Matt Cook)
  • ISTI - CNR (Federico Ponchio)
  • MorphoSource (Julie Winchester)
  • Mnemoscene (Ed Silverton)
  • sketchfab.com (Thomas Flynn)
  • The Smithsonian Institution (Jon Blundell, Jamie Cope, Vince Rossi)
  • University of Basel (Peter Fornaro)
  • University of Cambridge (Ronald Haynes)
  • University of Edinburgh (Mike Boyd)
  • University of Brighton (Karina Rodriguez Echavarria)
  • UC San Diego (Scott McAvoy)
  • University of Oxford (Kathryn Eccles, Nandy Millan)

Technical Editors

  • Rob Sanderson (Yale University)
  • Mike Appleby (Yale University)
  • Simeon Warner (Cornell University)
  • Dawn Childress (UCLA)
  • Tom Crane (Digirati)

Feedback: iiif-discuss@googlegroups.com