Sunday, October 14, 2007

The SDK is Not an App!

The Croquet SDK (software developer's kit) can be used to develop metaverse applications - though it is not an application in itself. It's intended as a resource for serious developers who wish to build collaborative metaverse applications for education, research, industry and entertainment. It delivers a foundational infrastructure for creating persistent, interconnected and collaborative 3D virtual worlds. The SDK is not an application in itself - any more than Java is an application (see my previous post on this).

The examples included within the SDK should be thought of as working code and not as how-to's or applications in themselves. Still, I often get feedback from people that the user interface is too difficult or that the "application" doesn't make sense to non-developer end-users.

One of the challenges we face with this project is that the graphically-interesting 3D user interface and textured 'environments' included as examples within the Croquet SDK provide many people with the incorrect impression that these are traditional and end-user-useable applications intended as alternatives to commercial production-quality metaverse environments (many of the same people would never think of providing a Java software developers kit to an end-user as a way of evaluating a potential Java-based application's usability).

The Croquet SDK was released to make it possible for programmers to join forces to create compelling end-user applications. In my earlier posts, I talk about some of what is beginning to be created. There is much more in the pipeline and the members of the Croquet Consortium are now focused on building an open source 3D Croquet-space browser application based on the SDK. We are planning to have a version available in 2008.


Doug Holton said...

So if you want to try Croquet and connect to other users on the Internet (just just the local area network), what the correct instructions?

Because if you download Croquet now, you can load the world (by dragging a red square or something I forget), but there is nobody there, and no instructions for connecting to others.

I'm a very experienced computer user and developer (not with Squeak though). I would prefer to see Croquet in action for myself first before developing on the platform.

Ian W said...

Julian, do you see Croquet as being ready today for visualisation of large datasets (i.e. 1TB)? Is there any support for ontologies to annotate and describe the structures created in croquet? It seems like it would be helpful for creating ad-hoc visualisations that data can be plotted against. e.g. creating a sketch, and then formally stating what components of that sketch map to - so, a PCA might be visualised in a cube model with labeled axes

I work in academia, and thus was curious about possible open source alternatives to projects similar to this:
COVISE - COllaborative VIsualization and Simulation Environment

An example model from CalIT2 is here - looking at the massive genome datesets generated by Venter's latest project:

How far are the Croquet abstractions from these types of models? You mentioned an upcoming example application, and I wasn't sure if it would only be avatar/educational focused, or stretch into areas like data analysis.

Thanks for the help.