COLLADA defines an open standard XML schema for exchanging digital assets among various graphics software applications that might otherwise store their assets in incompatible formats. COLLADA documents that describe digital assets are XML files, usually identified with a .dae (digital asset exchange) filename extension.
Originally created by Sony Computer Entertainment as the official format for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable development, it has since become the property of the Khronos Group, a member-funded industry consortium, which now shares the copyright with Sony. Several graphics companies collaborated with Sony from COLLADA's beginnings to create a tool that would be useful to the widest possible audience, and COLLADA continues to evolve through the efforts of the Khronos contributors. Early collaborators included Alias Systems Corporation, Criterion Software, Autodesk, Inc., and Avid Technology. Dozens of commercial game studios and game engines have adopted the standard.
Tools and compatibility
COLLADA was intended originally as an intermediate format for transporting data from one digital content creation (DCC) tool to another. Applications exist to support that usage for several DCCs, including Maya (using ColladaMaya); 3D Studio Max (using ColladaMax); LightWave 3D (version 9.5); Softimage|XSI; Side Effect's Houdini; MeshLab; SketchUp, Blender and modo. COLLADA .dae files can be used in Adobe Photoshop software since version CS3. Game engines, such as Unreal engine, have also adopted this format.
Two open-source utility libraries are available to simplify the import and export of COLLADA documents: the COLLADA DOM and the FCollada library. The COLLADA DOM is generated at compile-time from the COLLADA schema. It provides a low-level interface that eliminates the need for hand-written parsing routines, but is limited to reading and writing only one version of COLLADA, making it difficult to upgrade as new versions are released. In contrast, Feeling Software's FCollada provides a higher-level interface and can import all versions of COLLADA. FCollada is used in ColladaMaya, ColladaMax and several commercial game engines.
However, some applications have adopted COLLADA as their native format or as one variety of native input rather than simply using it as an intermediate format. Google Earth (release 4) has adopted COLLADA (1.4) as its native format for describing the objects populating the earth. Users can simply drag and drop a COLLADA (.dae) file on top of the virtual Earth. Alternatively, Google SketchUp can also be used to create .kmz files, a zip file containing a KML file, a COLLADA (.dae) file, and all the texture images.
As of version 1.4, physics support was added to the COLLADA standard. The goal is to allow content creators to define various physical attributes in visual scenes. For example, one can define surface material properties such as friction. Furthermore, content creators can define the physical attributes for the objects in the scene. This is done by defining the rigid bodies that should be linked to the visual representations. More features include support for ragdolls, collision volumes, physical constraints between physical objects, and global physical properties such as gravitation.
Physics middleware products that support this standard include Bullet Physics Library, Open Dynamics Engine, PAL, Ageia's PhysX and Algoryx's AgX Multi Physics. These products support by reading the abstract found in the COLLADA file and transferring it into a form that the middleware can support and represent in a physical simulation. This also enables different middleware and tools to exchange physics data in a standardized manner.
The Physics Abstraction Layer provides support for COLLADA Physics to multiple physics engines that do not natively provide COLLADA support including JigLib, OpenTissue, Tokamak physics engine and True Axis. PAL also provides support for COLLADA to physics engines that also feature a native interface.
- 1.0: October 2004
- 1.2: February 2005
- 1.3: June 2005
- 1.4.0: January 2006; added features such as character skinning and morph targets, rigid body dynamics, support for OpenGL ES materials, and shader effects for multiple shading languages including the Cg programming language, GLSL, and HLSL. First release through Khronos.
- 1.4.1: July 2006; primarily a patch release.
- X3D / VRML
- 3DMLW (3D Markup Language for Web)
- List of vector graphics markup languages
- PAL XML physics format
- Official homepage
- COLLADA book
- COLLADA tools including: ColladaMaya, ColladaMax, FCollada and the Feeling Viewer
- COLLADA DOM, COLLADA RT, and COLLADA FX libraries are on sourceforge
- Bullet Physics Library - First open source rigid body dynamics simulator with COLLADA Physics import
- C++ Data Binding for COLLADA
- ColladaLoader. An open source application to load and visualize COLLADA files in real time using OpenGL.de:Collaborative Design Activity