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Tip of the Day
Language: DHTML
Expertise: Beginner
Mar 25, 1997

What is Sun's HoloWeb proposal about?

Question:
What are the key features of Sun's HoloWeb?

Answer:
Sun Laboratory's HoloWeb proposal uses Java as an integrated real-time 3D animation scripting language.

HoloWeb is a binary file format, a sequence of byte-codes and embedded compressed data like Java, that is described as being native to the Internet. (An equivalent text format is also defined.) HoloWeb files automatically connect together to form a 'seamless virtual universe'. Rather than using the navigation metaphor of jumping from node to node HoloWeb conceives of a 3D city of information which one walks through.

The special features of HoloWeb are:

  • Its use of Java for 3D scripting of animations. Each piece of Java code has a spatial coordinate; arguments to Java programs are also pointers to 3D objects within the virtual universe. Java objects can be managed for access in the same way as other 3D objects.
  • Its use of 3D geometry compression to reduce file size by an order of magnitude. It only has triangles, textured triangles, lines and points. Java is then used to extend the range of geometries available at run-time.
  • Its use of 768-bit 3D universe coordinates to support very large virtual universes. HoloWeb defines a universe several light years in size. Its support for all the actual and planned display and interaction interfaces. Its support for multi-user interaction within a shared universe.

The things it does not do are also important:

  • It is not a 3D browser but a transport and interchange format for such browsers, which must support the run-time Java API. HoloWeb enables the creation of the network of virtual universes in which the browser then exists. Multiple files can be simultaneously active and viewable. Each building in the city of information is a separate file.
  • It is not an authoring package and does not support complex modeling primitives. It transports and displays pre-created geometry.

Availability: Unstated at the time of this edition but presumably tied to Java licensing arrangements.

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