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Hehe, 3-D Stuff Is Cool

Posted by ronhitchens on May 8, 2008 at 12:42 AM PDT

I don't get to do a lot of whizzy graphical stuff in my day-to-day work. I mostly do the typical back-end, multi-threaded server kind of thing. I spend most of my time thinking about API design, framework architecture, robustness, correctness and so on. I blogged yesterday about some excellent sessions that address those sorts of concerns.

But I also like to look into other interesting stuff, even if I don't have a particular need for it. I attended a couple of intriguing sessions yesterday and today that show off Java's ability to do some really stunning 3D visualization.

On Tuesday I went to the Project Wonderland talk. Project Wonderland is a virtual world, reminiscent of Second Life, that enables multiple people to interact in a virtual, real-time 3-D environment. It's built on top of Project DarkStar which is a Java-based multiplayer gaming engine. You can simulate a typical office setting, where you move about from one place to another, encountering and conversing with other people as you go. Or you can create entirely synthetic spaces to represent any "information space" that it would be helpful to "get into".

Today I attended a very interesting talk about the NASA World Wind project. World Wind is a Google Earth-like earth browser written entirely in Java that makes use of the JOGL library to achieve blistering render speed. World Wind has been presented before at JavaOne, but it's now been packaged so that it's easy to embed in just about any Java application or applet. I was impressed by how easy it is to setup and customize.

As I listened to each of these talks my imagination ran ahead, thinking of fun - or possibly even useful - things I could do with these tools. For me, that "What if..." response is always a good sign.

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