Version 0.5 Developer Release 3

Developer Release 3 of Project Wonderland v0.5 (aka dev3) has been released by the Wonderland team today. This is the third in a series of early, psuedo-monthly "releases" for developers to work with the new platform, leading up to a user release this summer. For the nitty-gritty on getting started, have a look at the 0.5 web page.

Disclaimer: Before we get onto the new and cool things available in dev3, we wanted to briefly mention the standard disclaimers: Project Wonderland is experimental, free, open-source software. It is not a product. The Sun Labs team working on it is relatively small. We are focused on delivering the core platform features so that the community can build interesting and dynamic worlds with the toolkit. Because of the team’s size, we do not have a QA or a documentation group. Particularly in this early-access developer release, there are a substantial number of bugs and missing features. Okay, so now that you’ve been adequately warned, onto the cool stuff.

What’s New in Developer Release 3

There have been a whole slew of new features and architectural improvements to the software since the last developer release. In some cases, this may require you to do some different things in your module code. Here’s a brief list of what is new:

  1. Persistence in Wonderland 0.5: As Jonathan eloquently described in his blog post, we have turned on features to make the worlds you create persistent across server restarts (short-term persistence), so that the state of the world is as you left it. For longer-term persistence, we added the ability to take "snapshots" of the world. (Note: The short-term persistence mechanism is not yet fully-implemented so please read the blog for further details. It is also important to distinguish between stopping and restarting the "ant run-server" process, and the Darkstar server via the web administration UI. If you kill the "ant run-server" process and restart, the world is not persisted.)
  2. Avatars: Our brand-new avatar system is making its first appearance in dev3. All of the avatars will appear the same for now, but you can test out how they work on your system and play around with some of the new gestures.
  3. Optional Modules: In this developer release, there are also two optional modules that you can compile and deploy to a Wonderland server: an audio recorder and an SVG-based whiteboard. The whiteboard also features some early peaks at the new HUD (heads-up display): a HUD is designed using Embedded Swing components, like any other Java Swing application, and can appear on the glass or in-world.
  4. World Assembly: Also appearing in dev3 are a new set of in-world "assembly" tools to assemble your worlds. We call this world "assembly" rather than world "building" since you are creating the art work in external tools, importing them into Wonderland, and using these assembly tools to arrange them alongside other components. Currently, the assembly tools consist of a Cell Palette, to create instances of new cells in your world, a Cell Properties menu to move a cell, rotate a cell, or resize a cell via text fields, and a Context Menu to bring up visual affordances (or manipulators) to move a cell, rotate a cell, or resize a cell.
  5. API Changes: We also made some core API changes that will impact cell developers. In many cases, the changes were simply naming changes to clarify the concepts involved. In other instances, we simplified the code developers need to write by making use of Java annotations. If you are working based on the Extending Wonderland tutorial series, refer to the porting guide for an overview of the changes that affect you.

And Now for Some Pictures…

What would be a blog post from our team without pictures from our testing sessions?

Sitting avatars

Avatars taking a rest before the start of our testing session.

Avatars flying

We even figured out how to move our avatars up and down in the vertical direction (the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ keys on your numerical keypad) 

Big Boat

A nice big boat we imported from Google 3D Warehouse 

Drowning

Help, I’m drowning! 

Sailing

Doing a little sailing… (ok, we are really just standing in the boat, and not really sailing, which is a good thing since it’s taking on some water).

Avatar foot

See the avatar’s foot sticking out of the boat? Despite the foot, Nicole is proud of this boat model – her first home-made SketchUp model brought into Wonderland.

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