About Introduction

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The 3Dwm project is working with the creation of a three-dimensional workspace manager that can run in the 3D CUBE as well as on desktop computers.

Note that wm in 3Dwm does not stand for the term window manager. It is a bit misleading; 3Dwm is not a window manager in the true sense of the word, but rather, more of a general user environment. The window manager functionality of the system is merely the tip of the iceberg; 3Dwm contains general primitives for building applications with three-dimensional user interfaces.

3Dwm Project Goals:  
  • EXPLORE possible future user interfaces.
  • DEFINE a common, high-level platform for the development and research of 3D user interfaces. This includes providing support (i.e. toolkits and development tools) for true 3D applications with 3D widgets.
  • PROVIDE necessary backwards compatibility with existing user environments (such as the X Window System).

Project Scope

The 3Dwm project does not aim to create the "be-all-end-all" 3D user interface. There is little sense in arbitrarily choosing from a number of interaction techniques and implementing them in a user environment like 3Dwm. To the contrary, the mission is to build a solid research platform with the necessary primitives to support just about any kind of user interface. In other words, 3Dwm is not the ultimate 3D-UI, but it may very well be instrumental in finding it. At least we hope so.

That is not to say that 3Dwm eventually will be used to implement such exciting UI techniques as gesture recognition, go-go interaction, voice control, etc, only that these issues are outside of the scope of the project and will be implemented on top of 3Dwm instead of integrated with it.

3Dwm / Fresco

Creating a whole new user environment from scratch is an ambitious undertaking, to say the least, and would probably prove too demanding for our small development team. Instead, we've opted to join forces with the extremely promising Fresco (formerly known as Berlin Consortium), who is building a whole new windowing system from scratch using C++ and lots of modern techniques such as CORBA, Unicode, OpenGL, XML, among others.

Some of the 3Dwm developers are now part of Berlin, and work with the 3D user interface aspects of the system. It is important, however, to bear in mind that the 3Dwm project is separate from Berlin. 3Dwm is a short-term effort to build a current-generation 3D-UI platform, while Berlin is a long-term effort to define the next-generation of 3D-UIs. In the future, 3Dwm might well be implemented on top of Berlin, but at the moment, the two projects are independent.

The 3Dwm Philosophy

The field of 3D user interfaces is young and thus rapidly growing, and hundreds of people all over the world are involved in far-reaching research in the area. To make things worse, user interface design in general is not an exact science; it is done using past experience, theoretical research, practical tests with real users, and a good portion of luck. This means that it is very hard to know which is the "best" user interface for three-dimensional interactions at any one time. How should we go about building a 3D user interface system like 3Dwm when faced with problems like these?

The answer is that you simply sidestep these problems by not dealing with them. In other words, we provide just the high-level primitives required for user interface design and delegate the actual implementation of the interface to a special client application. While this might seem like a strange thing to do, it makes a great deal of sense in an experimental field like that of 3D-UIs, and also enables the system to be used as a general platform for user interface research. This is the 3Dwm philosophy.

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Changed: 2004/01/23 (Fri @ 08:01)