Simple Content Creation

Dateline: 11/11/98

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Image and VRML created with TriVista's 3D ImageScene

Creating VRML content is too damn hard. The question is why and what can be done about it? Is it a problem with the VRML spec itself? These questions and issues continue to be raised in the VRML mailing list. It's time however for more action on the authoring front. Where are the solutions?

IMHO and this is my place to rant :-) ... one of the keys is easier authoring tools. I mean REALLY simple minded stuff for simple minded me. The best authoring tool I've seen in a long time in this vein is TriVista's 3D Image Scene.

It takes the idea of a photocube (a 3D cube with images on the sides) a small step farther with a pre-canned set of six imaging viewing VRML world layouts. The user goes through a typical "Wizard" type creation process. TriVista VRML Styles

The layouts (from left to right) are for a Photo-GoRound, Highway, Gallery, Photo Album, Browsing Room, and Simple Landscape. After selecting one of these styles you go to the NEXT step where you select the images. By the way the VRML in this article uses the Photo Album type of world with images I shot at Siggraph 98. It is trivial to select all the images in a directory however there is a maximum of either 16 or 32 images depending on the size of the image thumbnail.

After selecting the images you can adjust a few other options OR nothing at all and just keep clicking on the NEXT button, and you get a perfectly reasonable VRML world. The world is embedded in an HTML frame and when you click on the images a larger version of the image is displayed in an adjacent frame of the same browser window. Simple quick and cool.

According to Ed Marek leader of the 3D Image Scene project: "Our niche, or specialty, is in conceiving a specific (simple) application with wide appeal. Implementing (with a lot of testing and iteration) some (simple) VRML scene templates. Building a (simple) interface that exposes just the right amount of user parameters. Then, hiding all the nasty details behind the scenes!"

More tools like this are needed. Of course the limitations of simple tools quickly get in the way of larger more sophisticated projects, but these simple tools are perfect for spreading 3D to the web, and VRML with it. It would be nice if tools like this followed a UNIX way of thinking , do something small but very well. If the results of small utilities could be strung together (like the UNIX pipe) more robust processing sequences could be easily constructed. Onward VRML world builders!

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