VrmlPad Strikes Again
New Version 1.3 from Parallelgraphics
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Dateline: September 12, 2001

I don't usually rave about products, but I really do love VrmlPad from the folks at ParallelGraphics. It's the best product out there (yeah there aren't really any other's) for text editing VRML. It's a structure editor that "understands" the structure of VRML files.

The new version (1.3) contains a number of significant improvements. My favorite improvement was trivial for them to add, but since I suggested it, it's my favorite! Have you ever had a VRML file that just wasn't set up with the right scale of coordinates. For example you might have a large complex file, but all the coordinates contain values between .001 and .0000001 which causes problems with the clipping plane of most VRML browsers. VrmlPad has this convenient little menu item called "ScaleFacesets" which scales the values of all the data in IndexFaceSets.

ScaleFacesets menu item from VRMLPad 1.3
ScaleFacesets menu item from VRMLPad 1.3

The important aspect of this feature isn't simply what it does, but how it was created. VRMLPad 1.3 has the ability to add macros which let's you script functionality using VBScript or JavaScript. It's a most convenient way to add custom functionality. The documentation on this capability is a bit this but there are some examples to follow. In addition to custom scripting you can add in more complex functionality using C, C++, or Visual Basic using "Add-ins".

Some other notable improvements are the ability to split the screen and work on multiple documents, or different areas of the same document. A routing map area visually displays the routes, much like good ole' now dead CosmoWorlds used to do.

Routing map from VRMLPad 1.3
Routing Map from VRMLPad 1.3

Another great feature (actually new with version 1.2) is what they call "node folding" which is really the ability of VrmlPad to treat Nodes like an outline processor.

Line numbers and node folding controls in VrmlPad 1.3
Line numbers and node folding controls in VrmlPad 1.3

On the left side of the code are little plus or minus boxes which can be used to toggle the display of the entire contents of a node or just the first and last lines of the node. In addition the display of line numbers is most useful.

There is a 30-day free trial, which is a fully functional version excepts you can't save files larger then 64K. VrmlPad costs $49.95 so you can't go all that wrong. If you don't code VRML from scratch it's also great to examine the structure of other folks VRML files, and is great as a learning tool.

That's it for now, keep on 3Ding!

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