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  What would you like/need from Java3D?  (Read 3409 times)
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Offline Mithrandir

Senior Devvie

Cut from being on the bleeding edge too long

« Posted 2003-08-20 19:35:08 »

This is a copy of the post I've sent to the Java3d list. I'm posting here, because obviously many of the people on the J3D list will be biased for Java3D, whereas many here will be of the group that have left Java3D for something else.

(BTW - Moderators, posted here in the general discussions because I felt it covered more than just J3D - ie people that may want to scarf bits of j3D technology/ideas without actual interest in the whole of J3D. If not appropriate, feel free to move somewhere else).

As many of you know, I've been involved with Java3D for a very long period of time. This has given me, and consequently my company (we' a small contracting shop) access to many different people within Sun. Right now, we find ourselves in an interesting position with regards to
the whole Java and 3D graphics community. There will be more announcements and so forth over the next week or two, but now I have a specific request of the Java3D community to provide us with feedback, that we can then pass on, and hopefully help make a difference.

Let's start with the assumption that Sun is no longer, and will never be supporting Java3D. There is a body of code lying dormant inside Sun. Now, look to the future.

What I am seeking is as many responses as possible from everyone here, either private or public about what your future holds either definitely or as a wish list, with respect to Java3D. Both positive and negative comments are encouraged. I specifically looking for answers on what you
would prefer to happen. Here are some different  responses that I'm thinking people could give:

- Java3D is not useful in any way to my projects. I've left it for something else (eg Xith3D or LWJGL because you are gaming oriented). Better off to leave it to wither on the vine.

- It's a good thing and I use it in many of my projects. If someone was out there actively supporting it, we would continue to use it. I don't really care what the codebase is doing, so long as it is actively being developed.

- Chunks of Java3D are of particular interest to me. It would be really good if I could have parts X, Y and Z were released as open source.

- I'd like Java3D to be completely open sourced so that I can take it and support/develop it myself. I'm not really interested in long term someone else support, but with the source code available, my own projects can continue to move forward.

- I'd like Java3D to be completely open sourced, but really I want someone to be a steward of the codebase to make sure that there is a central "reference" implementation to work with. Alternatively, we could pay someone else to do the maintenance on it. I'd like to recommend that
you consider ABC Company/Consortium be given the code to work with.

- If I had access to the source, I'd like to help develop it further along the direction of product market LMN (eg CAD-specific or SciViz).

- It's of mild interest to me. I was planning on moving off it, but if it was open sourced, then we would hang around and continue to use it.

- Having the code there as a reference would be really useful to me. I already have plans to build my own scene graph/rendering engine, and don't really plan to use Java3D code directly, but knowing some of the
design decisions would be really handy.

I'd appreciate it if in your response you could give some small background of the type of projects you are using it for. For example - a university, so it is being used as a teaching tool or visualisation engine for experimentation.

Note that myself and Yumetech are not wanting to use this information to market to you or anything like that. We're in a position to provide a case to Sun about what to do with their code. We're basically going to package up the replies, put a summary on it about the general mood expressed and then chat about the results with the appropriate people in Sun. Sun is a big an varied company, with not all parts marching to the same tune. They're interesting in working out what the current business cases are surrounding Java3D. They are certainly not even remotely
considering Sun putting any engineering resources into continuing Java3D development, but they are looking at whether it is worthwhile helping others to do so. We're certainly not looking for a specific response like "please open source it" - if the majority of people really couldn't
care less about Java3D, then we'll pass that along too.

Please feel free to pass this message along to anyone that you feel may want to respond - particularly if you know of people that have already moved away from Java3D.

The site for 3D Graphics information
Aviatrix3D JOGL Scenegraph
Programming is essentially a markup language surrounding mathematical formulae and thus, should not be patentable.
Offline bmyers

Junior Devvie

« Reply #1 - Posted 2003-08-21 16:41:03 »

Here's my response:

We are currently using Java3D for commerical game projects.  We would  keep using it if it were supported.  We would be willing to pay for support.  If it is not supported then we will port our current Java3D work to a different scenegraph API such as Xith3D and abandon ongoing work with Java3D.

Offline shawnkendall

Senior Devvie

« Reply #2 - Posted 2003-08-21 18:27:36 »

My team has steadily left Java3D over the last 3 years.

In the last several months I have managed to pull some of the team back with JOGL promises.  So we are developing JOGL/any OpenGL wrappers based game technology (and game).  During the transition though, we are developing a limited Java3D scene graph renderer, so we are still connected to J3D for the near term, but before the end of the year will be complete off and have no plans to look back.

Although I would be interested in what happens to J3D particularly a 1.4 release, I would prefer ALL Suns 3D efforts go towards OpenGL support just so we have the best possible foundation, and end duplicate projects like JOGL and Sun/SGI's Java wrappers for OpenGL.  In addition, I would like to see Java/OpenGL support in other environments, i.e. handhelds and in my dreams even a hack Java/near-OpenGL type layers on future consoles.

Open sourcing Java3D would be nice WITH heavy documentation but only for reference into some of the mechanisms in the system.  I say heavy documentation because if I want to see how something was done the J3D way, I can just decompile, so only the added docs would be more useful.

In the money to burn file, I can dream of Java3D staying alive but shifting to an open OpenGL layer (a'la Performer, Open Scene Graph, etc.) so we can use it's features or not as we see fit on a per project basis.  But I'm not counting on this one.  

And finally a formal press release style announcement of what Sun is doing explaining there focused commitment to OpenGL wrappers.

Pesonal take...

Unfortunately, I think that the Java3D brand is ruined and should be completely abandoned if some sort of graph layer is going to be continued.  At least in game development circles, I get laughed out of the room if I mention Java3D now, whether it's deserved or not, the preception is it's crap now. I could list 10 things that are great about it (clean multitexture support) and 10 that are terrible (less portable than C/C++ graph APIs. i.e. no Mac).  All in all it did a good job.  If it could've evolved a bit faster it would have been better, but in the end I really believe the "black-box" design is what killed it for gaming, and of course it never really was designed for that space anyway, so it was a bad fit (but all we had).

I could go on, but I feel like I am giving a eulogy.
"He was a great friend, and we will all mourn the loss, but he is in a better place now and we must go on"

Shawn Kendall
Cosmic Interactive, LLC
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel

Medals: 57
Projects: 11

Monkey for a head

« Reply #3 - Posted 2003-08-21 18:44:24 »

I always thought that J3D was too much effort for too little reward - you jump though hoops for it to get a valid scenegraph and such, then it pays you back by rendering something thats neither fast nor impressive. And if you want to do anything remotly off the beaten track then god help you, you'll get half working APIs and resistance all the way.

It would be nice to actually get hold of the source to the guts of the beast, it was often mentioned that the J3D team had to come up with custom solutions to fundamental Java problems (high res timer, insufficiant multi-threading to name a couple of well known ones) and it would be interesting to see how they solved these.

[ - Play Growth Spurt, Rescue Squad and Snowman Village ] [ Rebirth - game resource library ]
Offline misterX

Junior Devvie

java forever!

« Reply #4 - Posted 2003-08-24 16:01:19 »

hmm... i'm maybe not experienced enough, or my apps are not complex enough, but i didn't had any problem at all since i used it. It's the opposite, i like it a lot and find it very mature.
I just enjoy working with it and will continue.

The backdraws are on the community side, it's "abandonned" and disorganized. When you look at, you'll see a forgotten static place. On the other hand, if you look closer, many guys have done specific stuff for it, from code to tutorials. I believe that if everything would be again centralized and some efforts put in the code repertory to make it 100% ready, then it would not only be a good fresh breeze for j3d's community but also a big step forward.

About bringing it open-source, it don't care. After all, what would i do with it? could I improve a part or make things better than sun's engineer staff has done? That would be a joke.

well, it seems i'm not surrounded by many people...
But anyway, i'll stick to this java3d, this "good old guy" ;-)

Offline Mojomonkey

Senior Devvie

ooh ooh eee eeee

« Reply #5 - Posted 2003-08-24 16:10:23 »

About bringing it open-source, it don't care. After all, what would i do with it?

The point is not necessarily what you could do with it, but what someone could do with it. Graphics a very rapid progression field, if j3D sits with no updates, it will become obsolete very quickly. In fact, you may argue it's already obsolete.

Don't send a man to do a monkey's work.
Offline misterX

Junior Devvie

java forever!

« Reply #6 - Posted 2003-08-24 18:02:06 »

i should have added: "and i'm not sure others can do much better". It sounds a bit insulting, i apologize, but really, how many people have worked on it, how long, huh? Ok, well, that said, the source can surely be usefully modified for some specific stuff.

And i'm curious about the other problem, i mean, it is said java3D is obsolete. Since java3d is just a structure over DX or OGL, it always uses the latest version of these, isn't it? (i mean, the function calls don't change with dx&ogl versions, just the implementation changes). Or am i wrong?
So, if it does, is the obsolete adjective just referring that you can't use some "newer" methods & techniques?

Oh, well, i'm interested to know everything!
Offline William

Junior Devvie

No Exit

« Reply #7 - Posted 2003-08-26 06:05:19 »

I have used Java3D to develop two game prototypes, both done in an academic environment but one of them with a commercial commissioner and the other one done with one of its explicit goals to examine the content pipeline in Java game development. I would like to see Java3D open sourced to support compatability between, and minimize the need for code rewrites in, third-party components such as the Xith3D renderer and the Xj3D model loader.

Java3D's strength was productivity, but its opaque and heavily multi-threaded architecture made it unfit for use in consumer-grade multimedia. Components such as the Xith3D-renderer promise to fix the problems that prevent Java3D from being used in games, but it is unfortunate if it happens at the cost of productivity.

I think further developments should be focused on providing productivity benefits to the new open source games APIs developed both by Sun and third parties. I think the Java3D scenegraph structure may still have role to play in helping to bring such endevors together and make them compatible with each other.
Offline uj

Junior Devvie

« Reply #8 - Posted 2003-08-27 04:39:40 »

Java3D was one of the main reasons I choose Java over C++ for my application some years ago.  If it's discontinued I hope (demand) that Sun donates it as open source, very much like IBM did with Eclipse.

Gaming is a strong driving force in graphics so speed is a must for Java3D to attract followers. But there are also many visualization type applications where modelling capabilities are more important than raw speed. Ideally you should be able to use Java3D at both extremes and in-between. Maybe Linux could serve as a role model. Someone ensures a mean and lean graphics engine kernel and on top of that focused packages are built towards different needs.

(If) Java3D is dead, long live Java3D!
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