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Archive for October 25th, 2007

3D PDF prototype

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Adobe have recently released Acrobat 3D Version 8. This new version of Acrobat gives the user the opportunity to embed a variety of different media types into a PDF document which can then be read by anyone with the free adobe reader software.

Here at Earthware we have jumped at the chance to embed some of our 3D models into this new medium and see what it is capable of. to do this I have taken a fictional building and created a property brochure page around it.

Acrobat has the ability to capture CAD files simply by opening your 3D file in the program it was made in and using the print screen button to capture it while the 3D feature in acrobat is running in the background.

To embed directly into an existing PDF is just as easy.

All you need to do is choose the 3d tool in the tools menu and then draw a marquee in the place you want your model to appear.

acrobat 1

Once this is done a capture options menu appears with basic field parameters for the import. After selecting your options you are required to go to your 3D package, load your model and press print screen.

acrobat 2

Once print screen has been completed go back to acrobat, the OK button at the bottom of the capture tab will be activated and you press ok.

The model will load in and then be active within the marquee you placed earlier. note that you will need to select the hand tool to activate the 3D navigation panel

Download our prototype and have a go with the 3D window, you will need the latest version of the free adobe acrobat reader. It allows full navigation of the model with the mouse. to activate the tool panel click within the 3D viewer. Also note that acrobat does not show all the textures at the same time, presumably to minimize memory usage although I am working on finding a fix for this

acrobat 3

If you need adobe acrobat then click here

To download our prototype click here

Commercial 3D property interior modelling

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

For a while we have toyed with the idea of interior modelling in Sketchup for Google earth but with residential models it is impossible to navigate inside them effectively with the tools available. A larger commercial space gives more room to navigate in so we have developed a prototype with a basic interior space to test out the concept.

With some careful mouse movement it will be possible to get inside and view the interior of the building. If you have the advantage of a 3D mouse then performing a fly through will be easy. To aid things a little  there are some place marks in the tour folder which will hopefully guide you through several view points in and around the model providing they work correctly.

Click the link to download the Google earth file

Earthware Commercial Demo

feel free to leave your comments and let us know what you think

How is the Virtual Earth roadmap doing?

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

With the recent release of ver 6 of the Virtual Earth API I thought It would be interesting to look back on our previous virtual earth roadmap article to see how close we were with Microsoft on delivering their updates and features.

So here is a list of the features and the original Microsoft unofficial suggest release dates, lets see just how hard they have been working on Virtual Earth these last few months.

Safari support
Original suggested release date for this update was summer 2007, we now have almost complete Safari support just a few months later than expect. Personally this is a welcome but not exciting feature for us at Earthware, I was quiet enjoying telling mac users to use firefox ;-)

Mobile API / tileserver
Originally suggest release date was summer 2007, however nothing has appeared recently except and update mobile application. There is still not way to create your own mobile apps based on VE unless you code your own.

Rooftop accurate geocoding for the US
The timeframe suggest for this was end of 2007 and its just been released in ver 6 of virtual earth, so spot on. We have not really benefited from this yet as most of our projects are European based. It’s really only a shame the data is not available for other countries.

Polygon searching and native GIS
This always had a very sketchy timeframe and so its no suprise we have heard nothing about this on the virtual earth front. However my guess is it will be some kind of tie in with the upcomming spatial query support in sql 2008.

Better custom image overlays
There were rumors of better support for overlaying your own tiles, and still being able to add the roads layer on top. Whilst we have heard nothing more on this it is interesting to see Microsoft Researches MapCrucher (which can be used to create your own tile layers) has recently become a fully fledge Microsoft product so hopefully we will see some more development resources given to the project.

MapMeta data
This was one that got us excited as we are often asked by clients is there a way to show the date the aerial imagery was taken. However we have not seen or heard anything of this one. There was some suggestion among developers that maybe a community based project could collect and provide this data.

Street side views
Other than the preview which we talked about before there is still no sign of any news about streetside views. Meanwhile Google maps has releases its street side views to the amazement of the general public. My guess is Microsoft are still busy fixing all the privacy issues that have caused Google a few upsets.

3d Models
Microsoft talked about improving textures of their 3d modeled cities and many of these have indeed been updated which is a welcome addition. Of course here at Earthware we were waiting in anticipation for support to add custom 3d models and again with the release of ver 6 of Virtual Earth this has arrived! We have already written in detail what we think of the new 3d modeling tools but in summary we think they are a brilliant tool in first release but still lots of work to do to compete with Google Earth / Sketchup.

Licensing for imagery use outside of Virtual Earth
There has been no official word on this yet, but part of the new 3d buildings tools released with ver 6 of Virtual Earth include a way to export 3d tours as videos. There does not seem to be any mention anywhere of what you can use these videos for but at least there is an officially supported method to export imagery. It appears Microsoft have made some changes in their license agreements with their imagery partners so we can only hope more options become available over the coming months.

Updates to licensing
It was quiet clear from the last Virtual Earth partners day that Microsoft were having some issues working out how to license Virtual Earth as there was not way to actually track map transactions. This seems to have been fixed in the ver 6 release of Virtual Earth as there is now mention of using identification tokens for those paying to license Virtual Earth. It will be interesting to see over the coming months how this changes Virtual Earths currently very generous licensing options.

Summing it all up
Overall we can clearly see Microsoft have committed serious development resources to add to and improved Virtual Earth since summer 2007. Many of the features we previously mentioned are now available as well as some we did not expect like birdseye views in 3d mode. It is clear to us that Microsoft are starting to take Virtual Earth more seriously both with the increasing impressive pace of development (this is the 2nd release in 6 months) and with the better developer support we are all now receiving on the MSDN virtual earth forums from the Virtual Earth development team.