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Croquet SDK 1.0 Beta Released 31

mzimmerm writes "As reported on Squeak-dev mailing list, the beta release of Croquet, which enables to 'create powerful and highly collaborative multi-user 2D and 3D applications and simulations' is out. From the home page: 'It is the first complete release of the Croquet technology and marks a significant event for those interested in developing powerful collaborative applications.'"
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Croquet SDK 1.0 Beta Released

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  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:57AM (#15171490) Homepage Journal

    I have had a look at Croquet and have considered downloading and compiling it a few times but I was put off by the amount of code I had to download. Now that they are making a release I might reconsider.

    I wonder how many people are actually using it? It would be a shame to be the only one.

  • by zaguar ( 881743 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:26AM (#15171554)
    Sure, it can 'create powerful and highly collaborative multi-user 2D and 3D applications and simulations'

    But can it synergize end-to-end clicks-to-bricks solutions with transparent ROI? A bunch of VC's are waiting.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @06:05AM (#15171624) Journal
    Having tried the demo on both a windows XP machine (game rig) and a linux machine (desktop rig) I am not impressed.

    Oh the idea of replacing the 2D desktop single user desktop sounds reasonable enough but the problem always remains the same.

    Ease of control.

    An other way of doing it is to recreate everyday objects so people will feel at home. I personally have had some light experience with an early B2B app wich had as it interface a desk. Yes, a business app where your phone list was a in a grapical binder looking just like the real thing. It had it all, a phone for dialing in. Drawers for storage.

    Very nice but now we consider it obsolete. Why? Well partly because we learned to deal with the abstract desktop mostly because it just to cumbersome. Once you have "learned" that the filofax is where you adresses are stored it afterwards becomes just a bother to go through the animation. In a way the learning curve for a more abstract representation is offset by the quicker use. Also a tiny icon or perhaps even a menu entry doesn't wast half your deskspace.

    So that is the reason the desk like desktop died.

    So we are left with the abstract desktop but now trying to add stuff to it. It doesn't work.

    As said control is a bitch. All our input devices are made for a two dimensional world. Even if you can adopt a mouse to control 3 axis (say reuse the scroll wheeel) that comes at the cost of yes, you guessed it loosing the scroll wheel for scrolling.

    Even then it is barely possible to control a center point with your mouse. Or the "camera". To then change both your camera AND manipulate objects in view of the camera becomes a nightmare.

    The proof? Well try the demo. Control is crap. It is not that hard to figure out. Why do you think CAD programs give you three views of the 3D world you are trying to manipulate? Because it is easier to move something in a 2D plane then in a 3D world.

    It all sounds very nice but I seen 3D desktops before and they keep suffering from the same thing. Control.

    I wish the next people to undertake such a project would just concentrate first on getting the controls right. Everything else can wait because the moment you release your demo people will be put off by not being able to do anything.

    3D desktop adoption == non-qwerty keyboard adoption. IF users don't see a very high payoff of increased usability vs learning costs they just won't do it.

    Make sure your demo A does something very usefull B instructs very clearly how to use it (why is there no movement tutorial in this?) and C keep the learning curve shallow.

    Take a hint from 3D games. They have had to deal with the same problems for years. TUTORIAL!

    • Take a hint from 3D games. They have had to deal with the same problems for years.

      ...which have been adopted all over the place. So if control is the major problem its been solved and we can move on.

      But I take your point about metaphors. I want to try Croquet because I would like to see if it can improve collaboration between people who can never meet but have to do complex work, as opposed to using video conference and business class tickets to the other side of the world.

    • I think you're on to something saying they should take a hint from game designers. I want a desktop i can control with AWSD and my mouse. Please excuse me while i patent this, then sit on it until its developed, and sue the pants off the developing company.
    • Good points, but I think the most nail-on-the-head point would have to be the one about control. I agree 100%.

      Until we have *real* 3d input that's as easy to manipulate as a mouse is for 2d, the "good" UIs will remain in 2d. Even then, the idea of moving about a user interface in a 3d "space" will be unlikely, as that will require even more input for the motion.

      And, by the time we have all of that, we'll be at the Star Treak Holodeck.

      And guess what? I'll bet those Holodecks will have 2d computer consoles...
    • Please note that this Croquet project is headed by Alan Kay, who invented the windows GUI and the mouse, the metaphor that we are so used to work with today. Who knows, maybe he got the same responses back in the days... good thing it didn't bother him (and his team) much, so they gave us such great tools. I bet many told them that the command line is good enough.
    • I also downloaded the demo some time ago and found operating the 3D space rather cumbersome, but I suppose you need to use a different controller (like a VR glove or other things like that) to get the maximum effect.

      Maybe then it would be possible to appreciate the environment justly.
    • It's true.... in the real world we can rotate around an object by twisting our body... with a great number of axes... our ankles, knees, hips, waist, neck and eyes... in addition we can adjust our position relative to the object AND move our arms/hands asynchronously to manipulate objects while we twist and adjust.

      This sort of relationship to virtual objects just isn't possible with a single input device... even multiple input devices would have difficulty, though a better experience would be had through a
  • Because MS Bob is the only parallel to this I can summon.

    Sure, this is full 3-D, but Bob would have been full 3-D too . . . Come to think of it, isn't the engine in Vista really a way of weening the public toward this sort of interface?

    The 2-D interface has inherent, long-term value.

    To be blunt, the next revolution in interface isn't going to be visual. We like flat, simple layouts.

    Some things are just too high concept, and the pervasive interest in 3-D desktop interfaces is one of those things.

    When p

    • Can anyone comment on how "sandboxed" is Croquet? I downloaded and tried one of the earlier Squeak environments, and while it had neat graphics, it was all sandboxed into its own full-screen world which had these strange too-small-to-read fonts.

      I know RMS is telling us not to use Java, but Java is probably the most capable in terms of 2D and 3D graphics of any cross-platform thing out there. While people gripe about Java Swing LAF, at least it displays some kind of window among peer windows on your OS an

  • I have seen a few hair brained "collaborative" development software, and this takes the cake.

    Collaboration seems to be the current buzzword of late, the fact that suddenly individual programmers can get together in a virtual environment, and work together as if in the same office. The idea you can't "collaborate" unless you have some software interface connecting them is a crock of sh*t.

    This is the kind of BS waste of time that managers love and programmers hate. The fact that they have to align themselve
  • I've just played with it and it looks quite interesting but I'll be surprised if it ever gets anywhere. It suffers from the same issues that systems based on Lisp and smalltalk always have, a seeming gratutitous delight in doing things in different ways to what people expect or are already used to.

    Never mind the programming language itself, it extends to the most basic things. In less than a minute I was near to screaming in frustration at how difficult it was to move an avatar around. You can't use W,A,S,D

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead