Geomview For Windows?
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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 94 11:25:56 +0100 Professor Sleator brings up a very pertinent question which has also arisen in the World-Wide Web, and which I feel is a very important next step. I will add my own slant on it. I would like to see a graphics composition language which allows a structured display to be composed on the screen from a number of items, which may be local or remote. For example, I would like to see a chess screen made up of a composition of a basic board, and a bunch or pieces, all identified by their network or local addresses (URIs). These would be cached in practice, so to redraw the board would be the very rapid operation of respecifying the structure. Another example is a picture of a conference room composed of a background, an overhead projector screen which is in fact a whiteboard, or IRC, session, and people sitting around the table which are GIFs, or videos for those with cameras. We have the formats for the basic graphics (though only TIFF a la NeXT has the much-needed transparency channel I believe). We need a composition language. There will be those who suggest adapting PDF, which is basically postscript with the ability to embedd other formats. Maybe the renderman format would have something to give us. There will be those who suggest augmenting TIFF, using its general tagging. [There are those who say it should be CGM ] There will be those who say it should be SGML. There will be those who say that HyTime ought to be used for this, as that was what it was indended for more or less. There will be those who feel like writing it in an afternoon from scratch. (By the way, I disagree that postscript is too terribly _big_ -- with display postscript coming with X, and already doing a neat job as the screen interface in this system as I write, if it was what we wanted I would go for it. I feel though that we want something very declarative, rather than procedural, as a base. I would like it to support lazy eveluation, so that when a bit of embedded video becomes covered by another window, the bandwidth can be saved, or if I can't see the output of a simulation, the CPU can be saved. "If you never have a dream, then you never have a dream come true".) Clearly some 3d or fake 3d ability is useful. Taking the object-oriented approach, I would imagine objects suitable for composition responing to, according to their sophistication, methods Renderself(); RenderSelf(viewed_from_x,y,z); Renderself(viewed_frorm_x,y,z, lighting_conditions); The results would, with HTTP, be returned in any format the client could handle, so those who could handle video might get back a video stream, those which can handle 3d might get back 3d, defaulting down to 2d with transparency or just plain GIFs. (I guess we rule out 3d video, but video with transparancy would be cool -- using color separation overlay to paste people from their own blue painted conference room into a common virtual environment). An object which only had a 2d representation would always return the same picture, with the result that, for example, when one rotated the conferenec room, the people would always be facing one. That is a reasonable compromise, the sort of thing which makes practical systems really work, and turn smoothly into ultimate systems with time, bandwidth and money. I would like dynamic editing, so that the chairperson (chairobject? ;-) can mouse drag Prof. Sleator to the head of the table to explian his ideas, and he can drop documents into the overhead projector, or one can drag/drop the chess pieces) We would have a great basis for consutruction of networked VR, graphical MUDDS, and cyberspace would never be the same again. This would be totally in keeping with web tradition in being a powerful means of communication with an incredibly intuitive interface, and with the ability to grow in sophistication limited only be the imagination, and all based on not very much. In fact, many of the requirements, such as the format negotiation and the embedding of graphics by reference go, much of it is there in differing amounts in different clients, and spec'd out. The missing thing is the composition language, with its 3d elements. Which is why Prof. Sleator's message hits the nail on the head. I would encourage a discussion of this, an evaluation of what is there some rapid work toward some prototypes. I would strongly encourage a viuew of this as just another sort of object, with various possible representations (just like basic images -- in fact this is an image object, embeddable in a document). Let's go fo it... Tim Berners-Lee
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