Early in 2003, Hideya Kawahara, a Senior Staff Engineer at Sun Microsystems, had an inspiration. Recognizing that desktops had not changed substantially in 20 years, he set out to make them more aesthetically appealing and more powerful.
Going 3D with Project Looking Glass
2004-10-18 Oracle and SUN 15 Comments
I don’t know why i haven’t taken a look at Looking Glass yet. Although i am skeptical of it’s everyday value, it does seem like a project worth keeping an eye on. I especially like their pseudo-2d approach where it’s a 3d environment, but you’re still using the conventions of 2d interfaces. I believe this is the best approach as long as we are using 2d monitors for output and keyboard/mice for input.
As for the arcticle, it’s pretty much usually corporate “getting to know you” stuff. Not really exciting. But it did remind me to check out Looking Glass, so i believe i’ll do that tonight :-).
Either focus on form (make it look beautiful), or focus on functionality (provide powerful new ways to present data).
Looking Glass does neither – it looks half-assed, and it is just a way to shuffle your bog-standard 2D apps around.
The only people who need or want a 3D interface past making prettier desktop effects e.g. OS X, are people who work with actual 3D data – e.g 3D art, architecture, CAD, visualisation etc.
And neither Looking Glass nor any of the other 3D environments offers anything whatsoever for these people..
There is absolutely zero thought put into integrating any actual 3D tools with these user environments, limiting their usefulness and accessibility to a massive degree.
Why dont the people who are wanting to ‘revolutionise the computer interface in 3D’ start with a platform that is actually useful for working with and creating 3D objects, instead of churning out yet another useless API and a poorly implemented bunch of ‘3D widgets’ and avatars made by people who couldn’t model and texture themselves out of a wet paper bag?
e.g. Build a filesystem/web browser/VNC client into Maya or Blender – they might actually get a community of users who are receptive to 3D UIs, and save these people some time switching back into ‘2D’ mode to manage their files or surf the web or whatever.
Plus you get an OpenGL widget set ‘for free’ and have a platform on which artists and designers can immediately be comfortable creating content in.
I guess the problem with this approach is that its just too easy?
3D apps and games *are* the innovative 3D interfaces these people are trying so hard to recreate, but they seem to be stuck trying to make their products appeal (for no apparently good reason) to users who only ever use 2D apps, with 2D content and a strong attachment to a 2D workflow.
If you don’t work with 3D objects – models, textures, animations, visualisations, a 3D interface is just eye candy for your 2D apps. there is nothing usable about trying to write a document when the window youre writing in is tilted 45 degrees away from you with terrible antialiasing.
And by all means, make eye-candy, but why not join the E17 project or something if all you really want to do is make a ‘bells and whistles’ window manager.
I guess I just think PLG is a solution looking for a problem.
I guess I just think PLG is a solution looking for a problem.
Good point. Honestly i doubt i would use PLG regularly, but its existance isn’t hurting anybody.
i dont mean to bash the project for existing, but I just have problems seeing the true usefulness of a ‘3D desktop’ – I do a lot of 3D modelling in Blender and other apps – so i have a 3D workspace open 24×7 on my main workstation – yet PLG seems about as useful as tits on a bull w.regard to working with my 3D stuff.
It just strikes me as odd that supporting the creation, editing and manipulation of 3D geometry and data is considered an afterthought in the implementation of these 3D desktops.
Maybe it’s useful, maybe it’s not…kinda cool though!
I doubt I’d use it though I may test it for fun at a later release.
Put the words Java and 3D in the same sentence and everyone starts bashing. However, put the Apple logo on the desktop and everyone would start saying how Apple keeps innovating. Looking Glass is a desktop, like all other desktops. Your productivity is more closly tied to how much you really want to work , than any desktop construct. This desktop, was created to introduce additional means of interacting with desktop windows. As a side bonus you also get the some Gee Wiz special effects that most people find cool in OS X. If Looking Glass was 100 functional and performing at speeds comperable to most desktops, I doubt looking glass would be described as a solution looking for a problem. And for those who don’t know, some very simular features are heading for OS X. For people who claim to love the open source movement so much, I sure hear a lot of closed minds. I want to hear these same comments in two years once the general release version is out.
I have a feeling that some posters just see fit to rubbish PLG simply because ohmygod, it’s like, Sun! Seriously, try it out, you might like it, you might not, but don’t simply write it off immediately because that’s the ‘cool’ thing and what everybody else is doing.
Also, why is it so many people see fit to rubbish the OSX interface as ‘just’ eye-candy without trying it themselves? Anonymous, have you actually tried using it for any extended period of time (ie, more than fifteen minutes)?Sure, stuff like the Genie-thingy-effect look fancy, but I think you’ll find the vast majority of them do serve a purpose.
Finally, E17 isn’t ‘just’ an eyecandy project – why don’t you check out Rasterman’s site to see some of his recent posts. Your comments seem to indicate you have very little understanding of where the project is heading. Read the mailing lists, or chat with some of the developers (I know codewarrior’s pretty friendly, as is Rephorm – haven’t spoken to others personally yet
this is the future
Yes, I own an iBook and use it a lot. And I think that the OS X interface is full of effects that are pretty much ‘just’ eye candy. Apple has polished them a lot, and hasnt overdone it – I think the OS is so good i spent a lot of money on a machine to run it – doesnt mean i think it’s pushing the envelope in 3D interface design.
And gee, how silly of me to omit to write 50 paragraphs on the architecture of E17’s vapourware desktop environment and applications in a thread on a completely unrelated project.
I used it as an example of another project that has goals that seem to be in line with providing a rich visual environment for 2D applications.
Why don’t you talk about PLG and your experience with it, and why you think it is good, instead of making baseless assumptions about my experience with and opinions on totally unrelated, peripheral issues.
Personaly I think PLG looks quite nice. I really don’t see why people are bashing it already – its not even finished properly! I mean what more could you ask for, Sun revealed the project, open sourced it, and basically said ‘here have a play with the code and see what we can come up with together’. If people don’t have this attitude when are things going to change? Nobody is saying that this will take off, it is just an exploration of something different – maybe another idea will come out of it.
I’d say PLG might not be useful as is, but one could consider it analog to concept cars: you’ll never get to buy those cars, but much of the underlying technology will be incorportated in cars that you eventually will see on the roads.
In 2003, was it an inspiration or a late waking up ?
in 1998 a friend and i were working on a 3D environnemnt, not only a desktop, which is very limitating.
and i’m sure that we were not the first to work on it.
Anonymous, I have a feeling that a lot of the effects you regard as ‘eye-candy’ are actually there for a reason, probably to make the user aware. The Gnome HIG has a section on this under Chapter 7: Feedback. You might want to look at the “Characteristics of Responsive Applications”, “Visual Feedback” and “Choosing approptiate Feedback” sections. Obviously, this isn’t all writ in stone, but with funding from Compaq, IBM and Sun (now Novell?), I believe the Gnome HIG is fairly comprehensive.
Of course, you’re perfectly entitled to think what you will. Personally, I think OSX is fabulous, even with running it via PearPC (this is *painfully* slow, even with the new Altivec code). I’m currently trying to *cough* “obtain” a .dmg of the Tiger pre-release to play around with =).
Also, since when was E17 vapourware? All of the source code is in CVS, and under the GPL – freely available for anyone, yes, even you, to download and compile. Have you even bothered compiling it? Rasterman already posted a preview release of E17 some months back, and he’s also got posts and screenshots of his latest work on his website (should be in CVS shortly).
Personally, I think your claims on it are an absolute load of…well, to be frank, tosh.
And as eelco already mentioned, Looking Glass is only a concept release – Sun released it as open-source for the community to try out and play around with, so don’t complain about them if you don’t like it.
I still have yet to see a mention of the Croquet 3D Operating System ( http://croquetproject.org/ ) – as usual osnews misses the cutting edge stuff…
Anyway this system is the only 3D system that I have found that innovates ie. the 3D space is composed of linkable distributed objects, these are all scriptable through a gui – anyone familiar with smalltalk (squeak) will be right at home here.
Great mention – going to try it out now (just downloaded Windows version).
Pity osnews.com is being flooded with news, so I doubt this topic will get any more discussion.
Anyway, thanks all,