3ds file format specification

please does anybody know that what is the last version of 3ds file specification + that where I can get it?

thank you in advance!!

AFAIK, there’s no official specification, but you can find some good documents on Wotsit.org:


Make sure you inform yourself of the limitations of the format before you decide to do anything with it! There are many format out there which do a better job. Assume .3ds to be a ‘lossy’ format, it does not preserve all geometry attributes consistently.

The latest version? The 3ds file format has been dead for a very long time.
Use FBX or Collada or something else.

I wonder what the status of the 3ds format is (besides being dead).
E.g. can i use it in an commercial application without getting into troubles?

If you really need 3DS, google for 3DSFTK
It is official loader of 3DS files made by Autodesk. It works pretty well, it is easy to use. No need to dig into the file format.

so you (people) would recommend to use Collada?

For file format conversions, yes. For loadng/storing data in your own game engine, no. I would write my own.

write own file format is the best to speed up loading and start times depending on your engine architecture. other then that 3ds is way to old, supports only 8chars for names and can store only 0xffff vertices. better go with some plain text file format so you can modify values (materials, textures) in notepad then open up some 3d tools.

Collada is designed specifically to unify asset pipelines - so you can transport content between various DCC tools without having to deal with their proprietary formats or write custom exporters.