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GUI Software Operating Systems

Sphere XP Makes GUI 3D 386

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-believe-it-when-i-can-use-it dept.
Cypherus writes "I came across a link for a 3d desktop environment. "The SphereXP is a 3D desktop replacement for Microsoft Windows XP. Taking the known concept of three-dimensional desktops to its own level. It offers a new way to organize objects on the desktop such a icons and applications. Check the videos and screenshots to get the idea.""
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Sphere XP Makes GUI 3D

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  • /. effect (Score:3, Funny)

    by Professor Cool Linux (759581) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:21PM (#8865612) Homepage
    IMAGES & VIDEOS!!!
    Let the melting begin...
  • Old != Bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sinclair44 (728189) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:22PM (#8865618) Homepage
    Do people actually think these are EASIER to use than the traditional 2D/command line interfaces? Or is it just coolness?
    • Re:Old != Bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xactoguy (555443) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:27PM (#8865671)
      It would be easier in the fact that effectively it gives you more desktop space, and without the complete separation of virtual desktops. Say you have a document, a calculator, and an IDE open. You want to use the calculator with both the IDE and the document. With a virtual desktop you couldn't do that, and with a traditional desktop you'd constantly have to be switching, because most likely you'd have the IDE and document fullscreened. With this, you merely put the calculator between the IDE and document, and rotate your view accordingly.
      • Re:Old != Bad (Score:2, Insightful)

        by badriram (699489)
        With this, you merely put the calculator between the IDE and document, and rotate your view accordingly.
        And that is easier than hitting Ctrl-Tab or Alt-Tab... give me a break
      • Re:Old != Bad (Score:5, Informative)

        by tweder (22759) <stwedeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:37PM (#8865730) Homepage
        I've found Apple's Exposé [apple.com] works wonders for the tried and true Desktop metaphor.

        Throughout my workday, I've got dozens of PSDs open in Photoshop, twice that many documents open in BBEdit, plus other essentials like Safari, Firefox, Explorer, VirtualPC, Suitcase iChat, iCal, iTunes and Mail.

        Exposé helps me find exactly what I'm looking for. Fast.

        It's truly one of the few things I never knew I always wanted once I started putting it to use.
        • Re:Old != Bad (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BandwidthHog (257320)
          I purchased CodeTek's Virtual Desktop a while back, and basically ignored Exposé when 10.3 came out. I decided to give it a shot a few weeks ago, and am now in the "how the hell did I live without it?" camp. It's even better when you've got some spare mouse buttons to dedicate to it.
      • Re:Old != Bad (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gooser23 (113782)

        With a virtual desktop you couldn't do that, and with a traditional desktop you'd constantly have to be switching, because most likely you'd have the IDE and document fullscreened.

        The problem isn't traditional desktops, but the MS Windows-like multiple document interface that demands to take up the whole screen. I have no problem in OS X using Xcode, gimp, and SubEthaEdit simultaneously, with multiple windows/tool bars open for each app/document window. I suppose it also helps that there's only one menu

      • Re:Old != Bad (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        Say you have a document, a calculator, and an IDE open. You want to use the calculator with both the IDE and the document. With a virtual desktop you couldn't do that,

        I do this every day.. I have 3 monitors on my development PC at work.

        "rotate your view" is worthless to me. I need to see all three at the same time, multiple monitors is the only solution to that. Actually I can do the above with only 2 monitors, something that is far simpler and dirt cheap on a PC today.
      • Re:Old != Bad (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kabocox (199019)
        I may be alittle slow. What is the logical difference "from rotating your view" from "switching apps"? I still have to take some active input to change the screen. What is so hard about using alt-tab?
    • Re:Old != Bad (Score:4, Informative)

      by metlin (258108) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:16PM (#8866145) Journal
      3d interfaces will be harder to use than traditional 2d interfaces. Its only the coolness factor, for the most part.

      To look for an object, you will have the difficulty increasing exponentially in the third dimension.

      Its an extension of Fitts Law [yorku.ca] - effectively, people are more likely to choose a stable 3d configuration and use it as a 2d interface.

      Although, I guess that would entitle you to theoretically call it a 2.5d interface.
    • Re:Old != Bad (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AndroidCat (229562) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:52PM (#8866328) Homepage
      Play a game like Black & White for a few hours straight until you don't think about your mouse/wheel motions to move around in the 3D world. Then switch right back to the desktop and see if you don't try to grab the screen to rotate your view or zoom in/out. It's a very strange sensation.

      I'm not sure if a desktop that worked that way would be any easier, but to really use it, you'd have to change over all your normal reflexes. (There is no "try".) That would be a hard sell--which is where the coolness comes in, I suspect. :)

    • I think research in this area is great. I do not believe that we have currently found the be-all, end-all of user interfaces. I mean the metaphor came about when display technology was far more primitive than today, which imposed limits to what could be done. Most of the enhancements to this metaphor have been making things prettier. We see higher resolution icons, with more colours, drop shadows, animations, etc. No real change to the fundimental way things work.

      That's because, so far, we haven't found a
    • Of course, we'd have to use it awhile and study it, to make a real comparison. I can't actually see this site, because of the /. effect, so I'll ramble and speculate....

      Visualizing this in my puny little brain, I "see" a problem -- 3D clutter. If you think your current 2D desktop is cluttered, because of hidden stuff sitting behind stuff, then wait for the 3D effect.... On the other hand, the holy grail of 3D interfaces -- hologram projection and the like -- might have the problem of seeing through the
    • Re:Old != Bad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 3770 (560838)
      Just because you can doesn't mean that you should.

      Other people smoking is not an argument for you to start smoking as well.

      I saw a demo by Jonathan Schwartz from Sun, they are doing the same thing. They had _one_ feature which I thought was nifty, if you were looking at a web page you could turn your browser around and make notes about that web page. But mostly I thought it was cumbersome. But pretty. And therein lies the problem. People will be awed, and fooled into believing that it actually is an impro
      • Re:Old != Bad (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fucksl4shd0t (630000)

        What's really needed is a new input device. Mouse + Keyboard is *really* shitty. I'd like something better. I'd like to just wave my hands around and have the stuff I'm using move around. I'd like to just put my finger on the window I want and either write on a pad or just talk into it (yes, I like writing better than typing) and have it take dictation.

        How far are we from being able to just wave our arms around as part of our ui?

    • by NoWhere Man (68627) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @02:32AM (#8866923) Homepage
      I got a chance to look at this program about a week ago when a friend installed it on my gaming PC I leave at his house.

      To say the least the program has a long way to go before it can become a useful product. I admit that it has potential, but it has some issues.

      Firstly, the images it produces are really choppy. It doesn't recreate the graphics of the apps in the background with enough detail. And I am not just talking about legability either. I had calc running in the background and the bottom of the application was cut off.

      The next thing was the interaction in switching the applications from being into the foreground to the background. You have to click on the top of the app, just a pixel above the title bar. It, needless to say, took awhile to get the hang of it.

      Another problem I had was applications that would disappear within the middle. You can zoom in and out of the 3d space, and its easy to lose an application that is in the middle. I managed to place a program in the middle of the desktop so that when I spun around you still could not find the application. One would assume I would eventually find it 180degrees around, but I didn't until I zoomed all the way out.

      The last thing would have to be the fact that its not a true 3d environment. The desktop does not wrap around to the other side. When navigating all the way around, its not possible to come to a full loop.

      Don't get me wrong though. I think this is quite an achievement for who designed it. And I think it deserves all the merit it can get.
  • by Seoulstriker (748895) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:22PM (#8865619)
    Finally, the technology of the 1995 movie "Hackers" meets the present. ;-)
  • Frustrating (Score:3, Informative)

    by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:22PM (#8865620) Homepage Journal
    I can imagine using this and always turning my monitor or my head so I can see the ones that aren't exactly lined up straight. Sorta like an older laptop LCD that loses brilliance when the angle's off. Since the desktop's concave, I'd also expect my windows to "slide" around toward the middle.

    Of course, it might just be a matter of adjustment.
    • Re:Frustrating (Score:5, Informative)

      by CTho9305 (264265) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:42PM (#8865760) Homepage
      The focused window comes up and is displayed in the normal "2d" manner. You can't even interact with windows that aren't on the 2d plane beyond dragging them around, and their window contents don't update realtime.
    • I can imagine using this and always turning my monitor or my head so I can see the ones that aren't exactly lined up straight.

      So not only do your wrists get RSI, but now your neck does as well? Count me out...

  • 3D input devices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Matt Moyer (763238) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:22PM (#8865623) Homepage
    I really don't think the 3d desktop will be feasable until we have some form of useful, cheap, and easy to use 3D input device. Anyone work with this sort of thing?
    • Re:3D input devices (Score:5, Informative)

      by ewhac (5844) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:32PM (#8865700) Homepage Journal

      There used to be one: The SpaceORB 360 [joy-stick.net]. Sadly, it's not made any longer. SpaceTec later folded and had its assets acquired by LabTec, who still manufacture high-end 3D input devices, mostly targeted at the CAD market.

      Schwab

    • by Bobdoer (727516)
      What? Joysticks aren't cheap enough for you? If you can use it in Quake, why can't you rig it up to work the same way for your 3D desktop?
    • I really don't think the 3d desktop will be feasable until we have some form of useful, cheap, and easy to use 3D input device.

      Nope; that's a mistake far too may people make. What will make 3D useful is a 3D paradigm that does more than a 2D one. The 2D GUI took off not merely because of graphic hardware, but the introduction of WIMP as the basis for presenting information. That's simply not happing in 3D currently. We're getting all sorts of interfaces that use the extra dimension for useless infor

    • Re:3D input devices (Score:2, Informative)

      by sadangel (702907)

      Cheap: no. Easy to use: fairly. 3D: oh yeah.

      The phantom [sensable.com] is the darling device of many haptics researchers right now. It is pretty much exactly what you'd expect a 3D mouse to be. It's price pretty much limits its market to researchers and serious artists at the moment. I've had the chance to play with it and I can tell you that it's a fun little toy. No one has built a desktop for it yet though.

    • Re:3D input devices (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Arkus (15103) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:09PM (#8866093)
      Check out this glove [essentialreality.com] from Essential Reality. It reminds me of the powerglove from the original nintendo, but includes source code for Linux and M$ Windows. I've been considering picking up one just to try my hand at some 3D desktop interface programming.
  • Google cache.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pranjal (624521) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:23PM (#8865641)
    ..two posts and it's slasdotted. Here is the Google Cache [216.239.41.104].
  • by aliens (90441) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:24PM (#8865649) Homepage Journal
    What I have yet to see on any sort of 3D gui, is a thought out plan. (If anyone has please link)

    I would like to see some thought like a list of limitations that the 2D GUI paradigm currently has and how a 3D GUI could address these issues while not producing a huge long list of its own problems.

    Until then, this looks cool, but is in no way a step forward, back, up or down. It's just kinda there.
    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:38PM (#8865738) Homepage
      I know what you mean. I've seen a few 3D desktops before (I've seen this one before, plus Sun's 3D demo which I liked) and they all seem to be pushing the 2D paradigm into 3D. No one is really "using" 3D, they all seem to be making a 2D desktop where the 2D windows can be put "in the background" or something like that for the use of 3D. Nothing really "innovative".

      Like I said, I really like the way Sun did their 3D desktop demo, but it's still not really a 3D desktop, just a 2D desktop with a 3rd deminsion.

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:56PM (#8865864)
        Any 3D GUI is going to have to account for 2D programs running around its environment, just like Windows had to account for DOS programs and Linux GUIs always let you have command line windows.

        Somebody's got to get a 3D desktop environment stable before anybody bothers developing on top of that platform.
      • well, about that... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by trs9000 (73898)
        they all seem to be pushing the 2D paradigm into 3D. No one is really "using" 3D

        i get what you mean and i agree
        however:
        it seems to me that what you describe probably wont be feasible until we are using something other than a flat screen as our display, donchathink?
        (and i realize this is not necessarily the case but it would have to be a dramatically new paradigm and i cant imagine an alternative)
        i suspect that the innovation is going to have to come from a hardware / input side of things to get
    • by zytheran (100908) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @12:45AM (#8866534)
      Problems with 2D paradigm.
      1 The real world isn't 2D. People have to learn that icons mean things and all about clicking and double clicking to make it do stuff (i.e. run) So there is this whole training thing. Those who have helped show the older generation how to use PC's know all about this.

      2 2D is really limited space. You have a 15"->20" display that has borders.Unless windows go wrong you can't put things off screen. The real world is not like this, I can turn around and put stuff on the table behind me, or on the floor, or on the shelf. I don't have a tiny little workspace, no-one does. Yes , Linux, Irix can have multiple "windows", but the whole thing doesn't scroll, you just choose another rectangle to look at. Although we accept this , take some time to look around your cube, office or kitchen. The real world is not so constrained, why should the virtual one???
      3 In the real world I like piling things so I put related things together. This requires 3D. Try this on 2D and you either get a mess or require "folders" to put things in. These folders are just more 2D..
      4 Relationships between objects. Our whole brain has evolved to handle 3D relationships. e.g. the files are on the table, the calender is near the phone, the phone is near the window. Our brains thrive on this and it works really well because our brains are good at 3D mapping. Living in a 2D icon based world is mentally crippling. We have to label things with words to know what they are, we need folders and tree structures for directories. These might have seemed a good idea at the time but did anyone ever do some testing to see how effective these paradigms were? Anyone?? Of course we (and in particular younger people) take this all for granted but who says it is any good? Think outside the square people. Icons, folders, windows??? Come on!!

      What do people think about having a UI which is a window into a 3D world. It looks 3D because it really is. The calender looks like a calender and is where you would expect it. The Inbox looks like an inbox and is on your table. Your diary is on the table and open to today. You software manuals are on the shelf and look like books, when you move closer you can read the spines.No training required.When you move an cursor (think focus of gaze) over what you want to do icons appear near the object with a list of tasks it can do appear. Move your icon/point of interest away and they go away. Walk down the hall and there is Fred's office , there's Freds stuff. Fred might let you borrow his stuff or he might not. Walk out of that door over there and anything and everything changes and your in the middle of a game. It's ALL transparent and like the real world. (Ok, the game bit is an extension but think local paintball)

      Well, anyway, been there, done that, got funding, got business plans, no-one was really interested (including Microsoft). They all like little 2D screens and icons.No-one could clue out a 3D based UI. Search for Cyberterm in the archives and the VR print magazines from the early 90's. (Our 3D interface actually preceded Windows 3.1)
      After 10 years of taking it from a hobby to a company and then nowhere we have given up.
      (PS The company wasn't called Cyberterm, thats some dude in Florida who got the name before us)
      • The desk anology is a flawed one. Desks are not easy or efficient to use. Hunting for a calculator just to do a sum. Searching for the stapler then hunting for staples just to attach an image to a document. TOO MUCH WORK.

        Of course the PC desktop (2D or 3D) is exactly the same. Hunting in the start menu (or whatever you call it) for the calculater. Hunting in the menu for the option attach image.

        Ideally there would be no apps for me to start and stop. Rather the OS would "know" what I am trying to do and d

      • The calender looks like a calender and is where you would expect it. The Inbox looks like an inbox and is on your table. Your diary is on the table and open to today. You software manuals are on the shelf and look like books, when you move closer you can read the spines.No training required.When you move an cursor (think focus of gaze) over what you want to do icons appear near the object with a list of tasks it can do appear. Move your icon/point of interest away and they go away. Walk down the hall and th
  • Whoa, video and screenshots. That sites gonna die soon.

    From what I can see of the thumbnails, this doesn't look that interesting... more like regular Windows Explorer panes set at slight 3D angles... I don't see anything like a paridigm shift or anything. Although I guess this wasn't intended as such..
  • Not impressed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lurgen (563428) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:25PM (#8865653) Journal
    3 Dimensional interfaces like these (especially Suns new project) are just annoying. They don't represent any signficant increase in productivity, they aren't going to make your system easier to use - they just look cool, and that's enough to grab attention.

    The downside of these interfaces is the ridiculously high processor and memory requirements. All that extra graphic manipulation comes at a price, and I for one don't see any reason to waste processor cycles. What I'd much rather see is somebody developing a faster, more lightweight UI that is a nice combination of OSX and Windows XP. One that chews up LESS memory (instead of more, like this), one that speeds things up.

    Then I'll be impressed.
    • Re:Not impressed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by epiphani (254981) <epiphani.dal@net> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:47PM (#8865801)
      I accually think that this is more a "Cargo before the boat" type thing. 3D interfaces would be great. If I could interact with them in a 3D manner.

      Take a look at the interfaces used in the matrix 2 and Minority Report for examples of what I mean by 3D interfaces.
      • I think I was drooling when I saw Minority Report...
      • by whig (6869) *
        Yes, what I definitely want to happen is that when I make a selection, a little marble gets imprinted and rolls down a chute, which then conveys the response.

        How's that for a 3D interface?
      • Re:Not impressed (Score:3, Interesting)

        Take a look at the interfaces used in [...] Minority Report
        That was a bad interface.
        If I want to dismiss a window or move it to the next virtual screen, it's only one or two keystrokes/mouse clicks/drags, requiring the movement of a few fingers and maybe a slight movement of my forearm(s) or wrist.
        In Minority Report, T.C. was wildly waving his arms about.
        I would be very tired after a few hours of that.
    • Re:Not impressed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JohnnyCannuk (19863)
      Ok, so don't use it. You don't have to use Windows or X or OSX today either. You can stick with the command line, or fvwm or something nice and lite so you can use your processing power as you see fit.

      But since hardware is cheap, and most regular users don't use the power of the machines they have anyway, why not let them choose a desktop like this? For them it could greatly increase the easy of use of a computer, perhaps letting them do their jobs better or enjoy their experience on the computer more.

      Isn
    • Re:Not impressed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jack Porter (310054) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:58PM (#8865876)
      The downside of these interfaces is the ridiculously high processor and memory requirements. All that extra graphic manipulation comes at a price, and I for one don't see any reason to waste processor cycles.

      Yeah, the 2D GUI will never take off - what a waste of CPU and memory! Remember when 2D graphics acceleration was a selling point of video cards? They relieved your CPU of the burden of the 2D GUI's bitblits and fills.

      These days many people already have a 3D accelerator capable of doing all the 3D number crunching required - "wasting CPU cycles" is a moot point.
    • The downside of these interfaces is the ridiculously high processor and memory requirements. All that extra graphic manipulation comes at a price, and I for one don't see any reason to waste processor cycles

      But is raw horsepower or memory a problem any more? Longhorn will be moving GUI support to the graphics sub-system and we have already seen in an earlier Slashdot post what a high-end DX9 graphics card is capable of now.

    • Re:Not impressed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Eil (82413) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @10:54PM (#8865983) Homepage Journal

      The downside of these interfaces is the ridiculously high processor and memory requirements. All that extra graphic manipulation comes at a price, and I for one don't see any reason to waste processor cycles.

      They also said that "glass teletypes" would be too bulky and difficult to read. They said that color graphics were a perfectly good waste of video RAM. And 2D graphics with a mouse would never catch on because pointing and clicking at rectangles all day long would get much too tedious.

      Of course the 3D desktop comes at a price. It's not practical these days anyway, but it might be in the future. That "might" is very much the key. Even if this is all smoke and mirrors (doubtful, but possible), it makes the company look good. It's "innovation." It might become the next trend.

      This Sphere XP is not in use right now because there are significant limiting factors. Computing resources, navigation, ease of use, etc. The whole purpose of research like this is to try to find new ways over those hurdles. If they just sat around all day shaking their heads and saying, "this is pointless, why don't we combine OS X and Windows XP instead?" they... well, they'd end up being you.

      What I'd much rather see is somebody developing a faster, more lightweight UI that is a nice combination of OSX and Windows XP. One that chews up LESS memory (instead of more, like this), one that speeds things up.

      Better get coding, because if what's currently out there doesn't suit your needs, it's highly unlikely that someone's going to rap on your chamber door and volunteer to sit down and start banging out customized software just for you.
    • No increase in productivity?!

      Say that after you can turn your monitor around during Solitaire and see where the aces are hiding! That's what I call productivity!

      Sheesh.
    • Re:Not impressed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Quixadhal (45024)
      If I were a windows programmer, I'd try to implement my idea for a "3D" window manager... namely just using alpha-transparency and the mouse scroll wheel.

      You make whatever window is "active" 100% opaque, and anything above it is set to some very low level, perhaps 10% opaque. Thus, you can still see updates to the upper applications, but should be able to concentrate on the one you're actually using without having to move and reposition anything. Scroll the mouse wheel to change focus up or down the stac
  • by Jack William Bell (84469) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:27PM (#8865667) Homepage Journal
    I used it last week for a day and was quite impressed. It isn't perfect, some major bugs, some missing features and a slow memory leak that requires you to stop and start it every hour or so. But very usable.

    What I thought was most cool about it was that it is very close to something I have been saying I wanted for a long time, except that I want to rotate the 'world' around me using a foot controller. In any case Sphere might just be pointing the way to a new GUI paradigm we can use for real work, something other than the 'desktop'.
  • Its not a bad idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by voss (52565) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:27PM (#8865670)
    Imagine if someone came up with a VR desktop for linux that would work with those 3d goggles...you would finally have something jaw dropping to talk about that would be really cool. Instead of a clunky mouse, use a goggle to grab your windows with get this ...handles...not some silly virtual hand like in the olden crappy vr days...combine that with a virtual keyboard and youve really got something.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:29PM (#8865686)
    Next comes Superstring XP, which works in 26 dimensions.
  • by dominator2010 (735220) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:34PM (#8865709) Journal
    What about Sun's Project Looking Glass that's on their Java Desktop System?

    Here's a link [sun.com]
  • Hmm, 3D Desktop... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:38PM (#8865733) Homepage
    This (SphereXP) is almost painful to use. Not that it's a bad design (it's very interesting), but I've seen the videos from a while back (I'm working on something that competes along these lines, have to keep tabs...). Two things I would say to the coder: 1.) CSGL is no longer being developed. Switch to Tao (http://www.randyridge.com). 2.) Try and keep the amount of effort (moving around, switching tasks) to a minimum. Download the videos, you will see what I mean. Lots of bad clicking and scraping while moving around the sphere.

    The biggest problem I've run into (again, I'm working on something in the 3D Desktop arena), is that in windows, you cannot jack the Paint APIs (easily). So you can't just grab a window and throw it into OpenGL. Additionally, you can't modify the source (closed-source) to grab the windows...Which I am attempting to rectify with some assembly code, but it's still a pain.

    The nice thing about Tao? Cross-platform (somewhat). As for my program? It will be released after I finish the assembly.
    • I think the major flaws in this project all stem from the fact that it was a poor choice of development platforms. CSGL is a "finished" project that has known bugs... which means this project is dealt a setback.

      One "cheat" I notice this project is using is that once you bring a window close enough to the "camera point", it snaps back into becoming a normal Windows-drawn window. That is to say, they're avoiding all issues with draw-based things that their picture-taker doesn't get simply by ignoring them at
  • The download worked for me. Is the size on disk really 120 KB? I don't feel safe about running it.
    • Yep, that's the right size for the zip file. The actual executable uncompressed will be 100k.

      You'll also need the 372k csgl.dll file moved into your "system directory". (CSGL itself is a SourceForge project for a C# langauge graphics library.)

      This program also requires .NET Frameworks... grab those at Windows Update if you need them.

      In short, this is definitely not a "ready for primetime" program. It's got the core functional parts, but it clearly doesn't have the code to handle specific situations that
  • A good alternative (Score:2, Interesting)

    by openSoar (89599)
    I've been using this [spatialresearch.com] for some time now and like it a lot. Typically, the major problem with these applications is texture management - something that isn't an issue in the 2D world - and this one seems to do it very well on my ancient GeForce256. Once Longhorn comes out (:)) then this kind of thing will become more prevalent, if for no other reason than much of what you need to do it is built into the OS - video here [extremetech.com]. The other approach is not to make a desktop replacement, but create a while new platform [musecorp.com].
    • ... Once Longhorn comes out, I'd find it absolutely hilarious if someone made a virus to use Microsoft's new GUI rendering technology as they used it in their demo. Imagine the joys around the office when all of the sudden, the windows on everyone's screens start spiraling around, flying through space... Ahh... refreshing.

    • What are you talking about?

      The page you linked to demonstrates something which has virtually no value what-so-ever.

      I read some of their stuff, not too much. It wasn't worth my time, but maybe you can answer my question: What possible value does any of this have? Does it do anything besides add complexity and glitz?
      • it depends on which of the 3 links you're referring to - however, given the wording of your comment, i feel in no way inclined to respond so it really doesn't make a difference.
  • This program is in desperate need of documentation, it's not exactly clear how you're supposed to do much of anything. I was able to get it to run, but I couldn't find any way to exit the program short of logging out of Windows.

    Programs that expect to rewrite the rules of user interface should at least share a copy of the new rulebook.
  • by women (768472) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:46PM (#8865791)
    Why not investigate some of the alternatives while the site is ./ed.
    http://desk3d.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    Sun's attempt [pcworld.com]
    http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/A.Steed/3ddesktop/ [ucl.ac.uk]
  • Another 3d desktop (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:48PM (#8865809)
    Rooms3d [rooms3d.com] is a very immense desktop environment that views each "room" as a folder, with clickable objects as the items in the folder.

    For example, a cool-looking dungeon would be the Control Panel, and wooden crates would be display, hardware configuration, etc. Like I said it's very immense and thourough but extremely cool.
  • where's the valid research showing the time and effort put into usability studies regarding this? where are the documented usability testing and trials, including focus groups?

    i wonder sometimes if people sit back and analyze their own projects, because this one seems to have relatively little benefit for any users, average or power user. the simple fact is 3d or eye candy doesn't make a person use the computer faster or easier. it's a balancing act between prividing ascetically pleasing environments t
    • I wonder sometimes where within the rules and regulations of programming it is written that one must justify their own projects that they work on in their own time to the world at large.
  • by WasteOfAmmo (526018) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:48PM (#8865812) Journal
    Here is what I could grab from the site before it fully succommed:

    http://www.hamar.sk/sphere/

    Overview: The SphereXP is a 3D desktop replacement for Microsoft Windows XP. Taking the known concept of three-dimensional desktops to its own level. It offers a new way to organize objects on the desktop such a icons and applications. Check the videos and screenshots to get the idea.

    The project was under "heavy" construction, but now it is open for testing. Everybody is free to try it out. Every response (sphere@hamar.sk) is appreciated.

    Please keep in mind that project is more of a vision. Due to the limitations of Windows I'm not able to do everything as I would like to. I know it is still not very usable, but I'll try to make it work as I can. I hope when there's time for it, this theory will have a satisfying implementation.

    http://www.hamar.sk/sphere/info.htm

    PROJECT INFO

    IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS THE COMMAND LINE....

    The interaction human-computer has gone a long way since the invention of personal computers. In the beginning there was only a simple command-line interface (CLI), which was not a very intuitive interface. The only widely used device that you could use to interact with the computer was the keyboard. People needed a lot of skills to operate computers. New ways have been opened with the evolution of hardware and software. Inventions such as mouse or graphical user interface (GUI) changed the way we interact with the computer and allowed massive spread of computers. Working with the computer got easier, faster and more effective. The two-dimensional graphical user system is now established as the preferred interface for most users. It can be found in any of the major operating systems like Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and the X Window System. There has been made only a little progress since its invention. Declining hardware prices and increasing hardware capabilities allow us to make the next step and make interfaces more intuitive and more effective.

    A core part in creating any new environment is to provide a metaphor for intergrating visual elements into a recognizable and copmprehensive framework. The name of the application is "The Sphere". This name encapsulates the main idea behind the project. I'm not trying to simulate reality. The main inspiration comes from the way we recognize reality. My design is based on the human perception of the world.

    THE CONCEPT

    The Sphere is theory of an 3D workspace. The SphereXP is an example of the theory. The environment is user-centered. It is represented by a sphere. The user is exactly in the middle of it. All objects are situated around the user. He can easily turn around and manipulate with the objects. All the objects that users are used to having on their regular desktop are now integrated in a three-dimensional environment. . There are icons and applications. They can be move around according to some rules. You can bring them closer to the view port or send them back.

    THE APP

    Too much freedom of movement may cause disorientation. Therefore I chose to apply strict rules for moving in the environment. The user cannot go outside the designated area - the sphere. I call this type of navigation spherical. The view port is always facing apart from the sphere center. Once the user sets the distance from the center, the view port can be only rotated around it. This makes the navigation easier and prevents the user to get to an angle where he cannot see anything. A simple tool is used to ensure effective navigation and to prevent the user to get lost. It is a minimized version of the sphere situated in the right bottom corner. It provides an overview of where the view port is pointing and where all the objects are.

    Limited control of the layout

    The only thing that the user is allowed to change is the background image. This ensures that this environment will have the same functionality and layout on every com

  • "Please keep in mind that project is more of a vision. Due to the limitations of Windows I'm not able to do everything as I would like to."
    That says it all...

  • Mirror of program (Score:4, Informative)

    by CTho9305 (264265) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:51PM (#8865829) Homepage
    The site is pretty thoroughly slashdotted. I grabbed it a few days ago, so... mirror [ctho9305.ath.cx]. You'll want one of the sphere zips and the cgsl library.
  • by dj245 (732906) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:56PM (#8865861) Homepage
    These thing have come, and they go just as quick. I've seen 3d browsing being pimped at the internet browsing crowd, the hard disk space hogging investigating tools, and various other browsing tools. It always fades away because people hate it. It takes students an entire semester to get comfortable modeling in 3d and thinking in a three-dimensional space. Some don't even get it after the semester is up. I know a couple students that will never really get it. They are pushing this on Joe Average?

    In 3d rendering enviroments and cad programs, a sharp and tough learning curve is anticipated and acceptable. But in web and file browsers it is not. File and web browsers must be intuitive. Ittuitiveness is a myth however, there is no human instinct that associates double-clicking with running a 'program'. It is merely congruent with expected behavior. Same with volume controls where increasing volume is anticlockwise. If I made a volume dial where increasing volume was clockwise, people would be righteously pissed because it clashed with expected behavior.

    And that, in a nutshell, is why it will fail.

  • 3dwm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    remember 3dwm anyone? looks like its dead now. 3dwm website [3dwm.org]
  • by knodi (93913) <softwaredevelope ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @08:59PM (#8865881) Homepage
    I tried this out last week, it relatively sucked. Framerate was about 0.5 per second, visual defects were everywhere, just seemed like an interesting concept wrapped in bare proof-of-concept code.
  • by wo1verin3 (473094) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @09:00PM (#8865889) Homepage

    PC INpact Screenshots [pcinpact.com]

  • ...I wonder if the digital version has the same problem of all the piles of documents spilling to the floor now and again?
  • Mirror Available (Score:4, Informative)

    by baximus (552800) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:03PM (#8866045)
    Although it's probably not needed anymore, there's a mirror of the software, movies and shots at PlanetMirror. Available via HTTP [planetmirror.com] or FTP [planetmirror.com]. They also have the .NET Framework [planetmirror.com] available.
  • 3d add on for Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blizzard854 (726159)
    Not sure if anyone has seen this but... Linux 3d add on [sourceforge.net] [sourceforge.net] This program allows a 3d environment to appear when you want to change between virtual desktops... Once again looks cool... But useful? Not really...
  • by ChaoticLimbs (597275) on Wednesday April 14, 2004 @11:28PM (#8866207) Journal
    I don't want new WAYS to use the existing functionality of my computer. I want new TOOLS, new things I can do that I could not do before, or things which were complex now made simple. I want my computer to understand spoken instructions in sentence form. I want to tell my computer " Find all of the image files in the computer where the majority color is orange". I want to tell my computer "Show me a list of all of the files on my computer which have been modified or accessed by a user process in the last 15 minutes." and get no system and log files as a result. I want my computer to actually know the purpose of each file its OS is built from. I want to ask it if anything is different between this bootup and last. WHY is the industry looking to add superfluous eyecandy to the same functionality?
    It's like being sold a 1930 Ford with a new, prettier body for 2004 but still having the old rattletrap engine.
    Those apps that need 3d will HAVE it (Quake) Find ways I can do things FASTER with less effort!!
  • by lxt (724570) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @04:01AM (#8867183) Journal
    I once saw an UK Intel executive showing a video of a proposed OS, which was 3D and based around hexagons. In theory it looked like a nice idea, but five years later and I've heard nothing of it since. Users simply prefer working in 2D.
  • by Polaris (9232) on Thursday April 15, 2004 @07:23AM (#8867788) Homepage Journal
    The BSOD: Blue Sphere Of Death
  • by drunkenbatman (464281) <i@drunk e n b l og.com> on Thursday April 15, 2004 @03:23PM (#8874271) Homepage
    It's a cool project, but the poor guy's server is getting killed. :(

    Here is a mirror [drunkenbatman.com] to the movies & screenshots.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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