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Croquet SDK 1.0 Beta Released

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the hot-off-the-presses dept.

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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FRITS STOP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15171477)

Like I said.

Is it worth running such a heavy application? (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15171490)

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.

Re:Is it worth running such a heavy application? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15171517)

It would be a shame to be the only one. A shame? I thought there could be only one?

It's those damn mallets! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15171523)

They weigh a ton. Between that and the awful outfits, I can say I won't be playing it ever again.

Re:Is it worth running such a heavy application? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15173994)

Croquet has the advantages of the popular SecondLife but Croquet is free, peer-to-peer, completely programmable including a complete developer's IDE, doesn't need compiling, and interfaces to other online API interfaces like databases, SOA, etc. like other full programming environments.

Market-Speak (4, Funny)

zaguar (881743) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Market-Speak- online games? (1)

zoward (188110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15171774)

I read this as marketing shorthand for "create open-source MMORPG's". Time will tell.

Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (4, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15171624)

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!

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15171699)

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.

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15171790)

Well the screen is a 2D display, no getting around that. 2D controls will always be the best.

At least until we get 3D holographic displays. But even then being able to reach in with your hands and manipulate things will be the most natural approach, not using some sort of 3D controller.

AWSD (1)

masterpenguin (878744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15171805)

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.

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (1)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15172308)

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....

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15172674)

Good points all, but Croquet is a lot more than a 3D desktop...it's a real-time collaborative environment, distributed over a P2P network. Even if the interface isn't up to snuff, the underlying technology is pretty interesting...and it's all opensource, so the interface could be modified or replaced.

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (1)

Nutshell_TA (830986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15172918)

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.

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15172997)

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.

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15173276)

There does seem to be a tutorial of sorts for how to navigate and use the system in a couple of videos toward the bottom of this page: http://croquetproject.org/links.html [croquetproject.org]

Re:Not only did I RTFA I even DTFD (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 8 years ago | (#15173722)

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 game controller which is designed for just such interactivity, just as you suggest.

So... the best we can probably do is to replace our mouse with a two handed game controller that has toggle sticks for our thumbs and action buttons for our fingers... then add in a keyboard somewhere....

A description of such a device.. one of those ergonomic keyboards where the hands are positioned at a 60 degree angle to the surface of your desk.... then instead of a space bar for the thumbs, have two trackballs or joysticks placed in the middle as a mouse replacement... but talk about gamers thumb...

To compensate for this an eye movement tracking camera could come in really handy in a 3D interface.... to move the pointer to whatever object your looking at and highlight it, you can then press a button to select it at which point the camera would re-center on the new object, whether it was right in front of you or off in the distant landscape to the left somewhere. This would replace the mouse almost completely... leaving the joysticks for direct manipulation of an object rather than as a selecting tool.

Just some thoughts on input methods that would be better than a keyboard + mouse/trackpad for 3D interfaces on a 2D screen.

Did MS open source Bob? (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15171968)

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 people sort out their papers, they don't put them on stands all around the room so they can interpret them in a radical 3-D interface. They lay them out on a table.

How sandboxed is this thing? (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15172262)

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 and makes a brave attempt at giving OK fonts and integrating with the rest of the desktop instead of giving you a restricted sandbox to work in.

Collaborative Environments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15172390)

"'create powerful and highly collaborative multi-user 2D and 3D applications and simulations'"

Perfectly on topic. So what do you all think of using games engines for creating a collaborative environment? These guys [mssanz.org.au] are using the Torque game engine.

Can Debian distribute it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15172521)

The license for this does not include the Squeak clause that Debian do not like - the one that indemnifies Apple with respect to legal challenges against Squeak distributors.

Does this mean Debian can distribute Croquet but not Squeak alone?

Too bad its for Squeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15173184)

Squeak was a cool language to code in, unfortunately the development environment was so terrible that I would never consider coding in it again. If the core Squeak devs want to make the environment more intuitive to use with Linux/Windows coders and give it a more calm color scheme to its UI, then I'd consider it.

Smalltalk (2, Insightful)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15173824)

The problem is that the Smalltalk language in its initial incarnation (Smalltalk-80) was closely integrated with a graphical user interface, and it predates the Macintosh. It's closer to the Xerox Star interface.

While Squeak has made some moves towards a more conventional interface, it still doesn't support native widgets for any platform. It's a shame, really--a Cocoa Smalltalk would be awesome.

Re:Smalltalk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15173868)

There is wxSqueak which allows you to use wxWidgets

Re:Smalltalk (1)

ozten (112610) | more than 8 years ago | (#15174366)

Smalltalk + Mac OS X = Ambrai Smalltalk [ambrai.com] .

Re:Too bad its for Squeak (1)

aCapitalist (552761) | more than 8 years ago | (#15177801)

The out-of-the-box Squeak environment is just horrible. You can get freetype and enhanced look-n-feel packages to make it look "ok". The problem is with the whole "this is for kids education" attitude that Alan Kay and some other Smalltalkers bring to Squeak.

Another problem I see is that the UI is sluggish even on fast machines (if you don't do wire-frame window move mode). That's because the Squeak developers want it highly portable and only want to rely on the ability of the host OS to display a bitmap. With the coming (and already here to a certain extent) GPU accelerated desktops, it's going to make the Squeak UI look even more antiquated. It's windows-only, but Dolphin Smalltalk is an example of a slick Smalltalk environment.

Since Croquet is opengl-accelerated, I wish they would just fork the Squeak UI and make it look somewhat reasonable. I think one of the core Croquet developers is actually working on a new UI paradigm called Tweak.

Um, can we say gimmick? (1, Troll)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15173234)

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 themselves with some middle man software that interferes with their productivity for the supposed concept of collaboration which managers see as greatly reducing development costs and improve overall application design. In the end, it becomes a hurdle developers have to get over to get to their real jobs.

Croquet is just an elaborate IM with a 3D interface. Its a gimmick, purely designed to trying and get interest and investment dollars into a company that truly has a bullsh*t product, i.e., the kind of idea that non-developers like Wall Street brokers love and will dump millions into some stupid overinflated IPOs and not once think about whether the industry truly needs this software.

The Internet bubble is back, with lots of cockamamie ideas all in an effort to give start ups their 15 minutes of fame and millions in ill-gotten funds. 2 years from now Croquet will not exist or will never have reached the potential claimed.

Look away, nothing to see here.

Re:Um, can we say gimmick? (3, Insightful)

pkhuong (686673) | more than 8 years ago | (#15173795)

erh... Lessee. It's open sourced... And it's fricken programmable? Is your IM explicitly designed to allow you to write your own agents? (Also, OMG! Alan Kay is in there).

At least do some research before flaming.

Um, can we say empty rant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15174421)

"Look away, nothing to see here."

Funny. I feel the same way about your post. It contributes nothing towards the discussion, neither pro nor con. Basically it's "I don't like it, and you shouldn't too".

Here's my contribution [amazon.com] to the discussion. I recommend you read the latter chapters were he gives a hypothetical example of how future software development could be. And "collaboration" plays an important role.

Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15177478)

I feel all the coments so far seems to be missing the point... focusing on the demo gui of what really is han infraestructure project

Croquet extends squeak so it is han os like smalltalk enviroment suited for distributed colaborative computing and very capable of interactive multimedia... with normal programing!!!

Any common smalltalk programmer could develop in croquet without any pain what in other environments is very hard or impossible (agents, distributed colaborative multimedia, 3D portals, etc)

For me, that the demo experiments with a 3D interface, isnt as great as the programing capabilities offered at that ease of use (a better alternative that groove networks IMUO)

--
please forgive my english (is not my native tongue)

Nice Concept, Close to Zero Mass Market Usability (1)

amelith (920455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15181981)

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 or expect the arrow keys to work. You have to handle complicated mouse gestures and interpret miniscule icons, where the tooltips pop up behind the frame so you can't read them.

I like the concept alot, we need open source virtual spaces. Most of the current ones like MMORPGS have corporate owners. You exist in WoW or Second Life only as long as you pay and on the sufferance of the lords of the realm.

So I suggest that the people working on Croquet drop the elitist mindset, get a bunch of people who play Quake or SL and sit them in front of this. Then take notice of their feedback and make it so anyone can pick it up at least using and navigating it in a few minutes.

Ame
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