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RE: [xml-dev] 2007 Predictions - losing the PC

What you are talking about are the ‘genre’ of 3D as Eric Maranne puts it.   It is important to distinguish these in the market and in your products.    What you call ‘sims’, is also referred to as ‘virtual reality’ and that is a better term because it opens up more content potential.  You may not be simulating anything.   One common feature I find among people who are good at that genre is they all seem to have a background in theatre.  It is theatre tech in pixels.  It may not be a metaphor or it might.   


Visualization is distinct in that it really is strictly metaphorical and that is one market that tends to run out of steam because a metaphor is only as useful as it is easily comprehended and far too many of the common practice visualizations take experience to comprehend even if they are great eye candy.   But the common functions for transformation, rotation and zooming work.   The distinguishing quality of 3D is whether it is static or real-time.  Real-time does not mean ‘animated’.   It helps to understand  the difference between say a ‘frame-based’ animation (think datasets for interpolators) and script-generated motion (think motion and direction vectors being determined by a script that uses rays to determine the classes of objects in proximity).   In X3D, mastery of the sensors is the first level to developing convincing scenarios because they principally determine what goes on vis a vis the user’s position, not among objects in the scene.


I’m not sure what you mean about ‘world views’ and X3D being a problem.    That is actually one of its strengths if I understand you.  X3D works great.  It is not just VRML.   BTW, a good book is coming out in April from Don Brutzman and Leonard Daly.


As with HTML, X3D is a hypermedia wrapper language.   Unlike HTML, it is a bit lower level.  View source helps but not nearly as much as it does with HTML.   Cutting and pasting out of transforms can lead to bizarre results because of accumulations in nested 3D coordinate systems such as scaling.   To create presentations, you have to think about time, location and orientation in ways that are unfamiliar to page builders.   You may also, as in MU ( the multi-user variation for VR), have to consider what the presentation is with multiple users roaming it at the same time interacting with the environment.   What happens if proximity sensors are live and trigger behaviors when you are attached to a camera in motion?   Do you animate the camera at the same time?  Where do you go if a viewpoint is unbound (it pops the stack, but what was the last viewpoint selected and does that shock the monkey)?    How do you route an event among different worlds that are composited into a main world (the most common way to build)?  Is it better to use inlines (easy) or protos (flexible and the real component level for builders)?  Protos are better because inlines are event-opaque.  


What we learned over the last decade of working with 3D on the Web is that the simpler languages (eg, 3DML) are easy to start but not powerful enough once past basic scenes.   X3D/VRML is harder but at the sweet spot of power and ease.  There is no free lunch here.  More can be done with high level languages and syntax transforms.  Ajax3D works but it always did.


It is a real non-linear system.   It is easy to think ‘this is just games’ but that is just a genre and as with any genre, it has its own constraints (why are so many games in closed spaces even if they don’t appear to be closed, for example)?    Each genre has its own vocabulary.   The amount of academic BS there is very deep and mostly useless.   Because the basics are basic, all of the meaning is in the expression.


It might be good for those of you who are interested in X3D to spend some time on the X3D-Public mail list and learn what is of concern to developers there instead of trying to invent something here on XML-Dev.   The potentials are enormous but the learning curve is steep, there are a lot of people who are well ahead, and it is truly a very time consuming art form and technology to do good work in much less cutting edge.  If you just want to do 3D, yes, work with OpenGL and good luck.   Just keep in mind:  this isn’t HTML and it never will be.  That’s not a slag on HTML; it is a very different medium and the skills you learn building pages are not very useful except for Javascript.


BTW:  want a good cheap editor?  Flux Studio (Media Machines) is free for personal use.   Blender is free but has a steep learning curve.  OTOH, it can do anything.   If you want to play with Boolean carving, check out the ISB demo from Parallel Graphics.   The Flux viewer is open source.   The Xj3D libraries (Java) are open source.




-----Original Message-----
From: Kurt Cagle [mailto:kurt.cagle@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:50 PM
To: david.lyon@preisshare.net
Cc: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] 2007 Predictions - losing the PC


3D makes sophisticated 2D possible. Apple proves this daily - and most of the core changes occuring on the Linux and even MS side visually are due to the integration of 3D processes into the daily workflow. Sure, many of them are just "effects", but its remarkable how effective those effects can be for making metaphors believable.

With 3D there are effectively two metaphoric systems at play. The first is the Sims reality - Second Life, et alia. This is the walkthrough model of the universe, you are in the perspective of the world, and it is what people commonly conjure to mind when they bring up "3D". Cool, processor intensive, and difficult to do without specialist tools - though even that's not that big a deal any more. Spend some time looking at renderosity.com; admittedly a lot of crap, but a fair amount of just jaw-droppingly stunning work done largely be artists who wouldn't know a for(){} loop if it bit 'em on the ass. This is where the reality is moving towards - learn to render static, then learn to animate, then learn to build worlds. The GIS folk are there big time with this, they understand that the world is three dimensional, and they consequently must be as well if they are to survive in the next generation.

The second metaphor is more subtle - it is the mathematical domain that 3D opens up; fractally effects, vapors, applications that are able to twist and distort and reform because they are rendered onto a mathematically complex domain. The 2D desktop's not going away, but the ability to organize in 2.5 space (i.e., z-ordered content, not something with a fractal dimension of 2.5) is significant, even with a static viewpoint. Data visualization comes from this, and data visualization is frankly the great unexplored world where XML should, by all rights, excel. Why? Because data visualization typically requires the ability to transform content on the fly, sometimes radically so, with the presentation layer being built in ways that can't necessarily be predicted a priori. XML is superb at that, whereas related technologies such as Flash are only good so long as you stay within the fairly limited confines of what a packaged toolset can provide.

This is really where I see the crux of X3D, and where I think the hard won lessons from SVG really do apply. SVG is a favored technology in GIS, because of that malleability, but outside of that fairly narrow domain, there were too many different people that wanted to stretch SVG too many different ways to truly become useful, often attempting to make it into something it wasn't. I think that because of the parsing issues and constraints on the X3D model wrt world views, trying to build #1 in X3D will likely be an interesting exercise but something that may take 5-10 years of technology coming to fruition to make pervasive. If you look at the low hanging fruit, though - data visualization, largely planar structures (architecture) and so forth you can get a lot of mileage from X3D.

On 1/17/07, david.lyon@preisshare.net <david.lyon@preisshare.net > wrote:



To quote:

"Macintosh computer sales also surged, rising 40% to $2.4 billion,
while Mac shipments rose 28% to 1.61 million units, more than double
the growth of the overall PC market. The Mac results were a slightly
below many analysts forecasts, as several had expected Apple to sell
between 1.75 million and 1.8 million Macs during the quarter."

Using OpenGL I'm sure has had something to do with it....

Obviously people like this stuff...


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Kurt Cagle

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