Colin E. - 6th June, 2001.
Juggling simulators have a short history, with the first crude juggling animators
appearing in the early nineties. However, the rapid increase in computer power and rising popularity of the internet
has caused the number and quality of simulators to steadily increase.
Some of you may be thinking, 'What use are juggling simulators?'. To some people simulators are
an excellent way of learning new tricks, to others they are a way of communicating new juggling patterns,
although to the majority of us they are just a bit of fun!
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the juggling simulators past
and present. Rather, it is meant to be a review of some of the more advanced
simulators in a roughly chronological order.
Juggle, Allen Knutson, 1991
During the later half of the 1980’s a small handful of jugglers were busy trying to devise
ways of describing juggling patterns on paper. One of the most popular of the devised notations, due to
its simplicity and the strict set of rules that bind it was
Basic siteswap notation, or ‘vanilla’ siteswaps, use strings of numbers to describe
a juggling pattern, each of these numbers representing the flight-time of a particular throw.
The imaginatively titled
application was one of the first computer
siteswap simulators to appear on the Internet. The juggle application
is a graphically simple affair, the siteswap pattern is entered at the command line and
the resulting pattern is animated. But despite its simplicity, it enabled jugglers
to see patterns of great complexity which had never been juggled before.
JugglePro, Ed Carstens, 1992
showed just how flexible a juggling simulator could be,
and became the first commercial juggling application. JugglePro is not
restricted to cascade style patterns, while the pattern of throws and
catches are still described by siteswap notation, the hands are able to move in order
to simulate popular patterns such as
JugglePro places no restrictions on the number of hands juggling
a particular pattern, exploiting another property of siteswap notation.
Hence, passing patterns can be simulated using four hands - or stranger
patterns involving three or five hands! One of the JugglePro patterns which
is definitely worth watching is the confusing three person passing pattern
JuggleMaster, Ken Matsuoka,1995
has always been a very popular juggling simulator,
probably because of the huge number of patterns that it is supplied with. The application is
also available online as
A novel feature of JuggleMaster is that it makes audible beeps whenever a ball
is thrown with the pitch of the beep being related to the throw height. This makes it
possible to hear a pattern as well as see it, are siteswaps musical? ...
A demonstration of just how obscure juggling simulators can get is the selection
of impossible patterns that JuggleMaster will melodiously demonstrate.
JuggleKrazy, Colin Wright & Andrew Lipson, 1995
was the first juggling simulator with a user-friendly interface that enabled
visual editing of juggling patterns. You can move the position of the hands simply by dragging them
with the cursor making it very easy to create new patterns. JuggleKrazy also features a ladder diagram
which updates in real-time as the pattern is animated.
When it was first released the authors demonstrated
the program at a number of conventions - the five ball mills mess always attracted an audience.
Another pattern which caused much confusion was the four ball siteswap 534, with the 3's thrown as
Virtual Juggler, Colin Eberhardt, 2000
Considering my own personal interest in juggling and computers, it is no great surprise that
I decided to write a juggling simulator of my own, hence the creation of the
However, at the time there were already a great number of juggling simulators available and some of
them were excellent (see Jongl below). So why write one of my own?
Well, apart from the fact I had a lot of time on my hands, it had been pointed out a number of times that
with all of the current juggling simulators mills mess looked unrealistic in 3D, with the arms actually
each other. This was due to that fact that all of these simulators have a single arm joint making it impossible
for the hands to cross positions without the problem stated above. With this in mind, I created a juggling
simulator which has shoulder, elbow and wrist joints. My personal favourite Virual Juggler pattern is
5 club backcrosses, it moves just like
Jongl, Werner Riebesel, 92-present
is almost certainly the longest running juggling simulator project.
The Jongl simulator started back in 1992, it has now grown to be the most flexible
juggling simulator available. The current version of Jongl (7.0) runs on Linux, AmigaOS, Sun, SGI and Windows PCs.
Among its many features are the following:
- Jongl supports 4 human languages (English, German, French and Dutch).
- You can watch up to 10 jugglers throwing up to 40 objects.
- Not only balls are supported, but also clubs, rings, tennis rackets and many more.
- You can invent new juggling patterns, objects and even jugglers.
With its long development history, it is unlikely that this is the last version of Jongl we will
see released. Who knows what goodies the next one will have in store for us?