I am intrigued by the growth of 3D virtual worlds, and this session is
one that I have been looking forward to. David Smith of the Croquet Project started off in his demonstration of Croquet. Alan Kay and his Squeak project are both contributors to this work.
Croquet is a peer to peer collaborative 3D world. Avatars within
the Croquet world can interact with objects, and the lower level
messages are replicated within the peer group. He demonstrated
this by manipulating some windows in the world, along with more complex
objects. He also demonstrated stepping through a window … a
portal … into a moon/mars scape. Moving through these portals
allows the avatars to enter into alternative worlds. They both
went through a portal into a “water world” and immediately transformed
into fish. As they swam around they came across a “text editor”
white board thing … and edited the text on it.
Ok … he just opened a paint panel and drew a fish, colored it, and
then inflated the 2D fish as he dropped it into the world. Now
both of them were able to manipulate and move the new fish
around. He entered another portal and showed a interactive
spreadsheet, with the inherent ability to graph the values contained in
the chart. He also demonstrated using windows as filters to show
a filtered view of anything behind it. He was able to move it
around showing the wire-frame models beneath the textures mapped onto
All of this is written in Smalltalk, and uses Squeak … completely
cross-platform to Windows, Mac, and Linux. He indicated that they
will have a Python, Ruby, and other language support soon.
Expanding on his filter demo, he showed how he can open a new window
and use it as a portal to create new objects in the virtual world
through the new window. So the window become a palette through
which you are able to create even more content. Of course, as a
development environment, he is also able to add code that will add
behaviors to the objects. I’m downloading it!