What is Open Wonderland?

Open Wonderland is a toolkit for creating 3D virtual worlds. Just as you can create any web site using the “web toolkit” of html, css, and web scripting, with Open Wonderland you can craft a wide range of virtual world applications and experiences. This open source software is freely available in both binary and source form, so there are no licensing fees involved. Those who are technically inclined can develop and host their own Wonderland worlds. For everyone else, WonderBuilders is available to help create and host the ideal virtual world tailored to your needs. For more information about Open Wonderland see:

Open Wonderland web site
Facebook page
Wonderland Module Warehouse
Documentation Wiki
Open source site

Who is Using Open Wonderland?

Unlike other virtual world platforms, Wonderland was initially designed at Sun Microsystems specifically for use in enterprise settings by people who needed to accomplish real work in a virtual setting. As such, the design center was focused on business, education, and collaboration use cases.

Open Wonderland is in use by organizations and universities around the world. For example, there are a variety of health-care related projects underway in the open source community.

Healthcare Examples

These include the COMSLIVE medical communication skills project at the University of Birmingham in the UK, the iSocial remote autism therapy project at the University of Missouri, and the Virtual Valley home rehabilitation project in Spain.

Educators are also successfully using Open Wonderland in a wide range of subject areas.

Education Examples

Benefits of Open Wonderland

These projects adopted Open Wonderland because of the flexibility that the platform provides and the focus on accomplishing real work in the virtual environment. Without any modifications, Open Wonderland provides a suite of collaboration tools coupled with advanced audio capabilities. “Out of the box” features include:

  • Built-in Immersive, high-fidelity audio that gives users a strong sense of being present with others;
  • Unlimited virtual space to spread out content and create separate areas within a single virtual world;
  • Multi-platform support, including Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Solaris.
  • 2D collaboration-aware applications such as shared whiteboards, a multi-user presentation viewer, a webcam viewer, sticky notes, posters, and a card wall;
  • 3D applications such as an audio recorder, a movie recorder, a cone-of-silence (soundproof area), and a virtual microphone;
  • Multiple ways to share desktop software including running X11 applications in-world (ones that run on Linux such as Firefox, Chromium, LibreOffice, Lab View, and many others), using VNC, or using an in-world screen sharing application;
  • Easy to share content by dragging and dropping a growing number of content types into the world, including 3D models (.kmz and .dae), documents (.pdf and .svg), images (jpg, .png, and .gif), and video (.wmv, .3gp, .asf, .ogg, .mpeg4, .mov, .flv, and .avi);
  • Both object-level security and secure login with LDAP authentication.
  • Works behind a firewall or on the open Internet.

While an unmodified Open Wonderland virtual world is quite useful, the platform is designed to be modified to meet the specific needs of each use case. Common integrations involve connecting to an organization’s learning management system, content management system, or enterprise authentication system (if not based on the LDAP standard). The system is designed to be extended by software developers using the popular Java programming language and open standards. Other types of extensions can include developing custom multi-user tools, integrating with hardware devices, or displaying output from scientific equipment.

In addition to software extensions that require a software engineer, system administrators can modify the Wonderland environment using a simple web administration console. Using the console, they can pick and choose a selection of Wonderland modules (akin to apps) to install that meet the needs of the anticipated audience. The Wonderland Module Warehouse provides a library of apps to choose from, both open source and proprietary.


Although Open Wonderland is an open source project, the open source licensing is favorable for commercialization. The architecture includes a small core and plus the growing set of modules. The “GPL v2 with class path exception” license enables an eco-system of both open source and proprietary extensions. Only changes to the Wonderland core software, which are rarely required, or changes to existing open source modules, must be given back to the open source community. Many Open Wonderland developers, however, find it advantageous to donate their modules to the open source project, taking advantage of the community to test and improve the software.

If you would like help with your Open Wonderland project, contact us today for more information about how we can create your new world.


Nicole Yankelovich, CEO
WonderBuilders Inc.

PO Box 141
Weston, MA 02493

505-OWL-ACES (505-695-2237)