If you're looking for an industrial strength VRMl authoring tool check out ParallelGraphics Internet Space Builder (ISB). Actually ParallelGraphics offers a complete suite of tools but in this article we'll just be looking at ISB. You can get ISB from BuyOnNet for $78.95 for the downloadable version and $99 for the boxed version.
Of course a free trial version is available also. ISB is a full featured VRML object creation tool. According to the online help some of its features include:
ISBís main features are outlined below:
- Creating and editing true 3D scenes and objects using Boolean operations (adding and subtracting) over a broader range of 3D primitives such as spheres, pyramids, cones and cylinders.
- VRML 2.0 compliance: you can import and export scenes and objects in VRML 2.0 format as well as view created scenes in all major VRML browser, such as SGI Cosmo Player, Intervista World View and others.
- Importing and exporting worlds in compressed VRML 2.0 format, reducing the file size by 5-10 times.
- User-defined hierarchy of scene objects and a visual scene tree.
- Availability of customizable object libraries and galleries of standard shapes.
- Creating new and editing existing objects in the Object Editing mode independently from the other scene items.
- Importing 3DS objects (3D Studio), DXF files (AutoCAD), MUS (VHSB), and D96 files .
- Advanced interactive texture mapping and editing, setting material transparency and color and the ability to draw directly on textures with immediate display of all changes in the 3D space.
- Rich collections of ready textures, pictures and movies for decoration of 3D worlds.
- 3D fonts.
- One-button posting of VRML scenes to the Web.
- Customizable user interface with multiple layouts.
- Multiple rendering modes
ISB is not a simple sit down and use all the features type of program. Like most "professional" quality programs there will be a learning curve and expect to spend some time figuring it out. It has a lot of windows and menu items to be prepared to deal with them. ISB does however do a good job organizing the windows into a set of configurable views. In addition there are a number of "gallery" type windows with thumbnail images of objects or building you can use for construction. Often when you hold the cursor over the thumbnail image it rotates the objects to show you all of it.
There are three views of the scene, a plan view which presents a 2D diagrammatic view excellent for precise modeling.
A perspective view is the primary 3D view of the scene. A scene view display an outline processor type view of the
scene graph hierarchy which let's you easily reorder objects in the hierarchy.
ISB layout, from left to bottom, scene and plan views, object view, scene tree, texture gallery, shape gallery.
In addition to the "views" are 6 galleries, shape, object, scene, texture and picture galleries. The shape gallery is for basic primitive shapes like cubes, cones and so on while the object gallery is for some prebuilt custom objects. A texture mapper and painter window also let you manipulate the texturing process to your needs. I did find that when dropping a texture onto some surfaces the scale of the textures always was highly magnified and only when I was able to set the default size did the texture appear correctly. Ahhh that learning curve.
Most of the construction placement is easily accomplished by drag and drop. Simply drag the object from the thumbnail gallery and drop it onto the scene. The scene view itself has a few really nice user interface behaviors. I particularly like when you double click on an object in the scene you're view is moved to make that object fill the screen and moves you right up to it. In addition to apply a texture to a surface in the scene the surfaces highlight as you move the cursor around dragging a texture. These little user interface techniques help immensely.
Nice quick and easy publishing function which gies and/or puts all the resources into a single directory. Also integrated with Microsoft Webster, but I didn't check that out.
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