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GBIC >> Freeware >> gbVRML Help

gbVRML - Online Help

This page provides the latest online Help information for gbVRML.

Features
Examples
Main Window
Project Window
Part Window
Summary Window
VRML Source Window
Index Window
Toolbar
Menus
Layout Window
Project Parts List



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Features

gbVRML offers a wide range of easy-to-use features.

2D Features

gbVRML provides an easy-to-learn, intuitive interface designed to allow rapid generation of a design. The main window is where most Winplace actions take place, but several secondary windows are available which are used to create the design. Key features of gbVRML include:

- Use mouse to create, size and move parts
- Layout grid with snap-to-grid part placement
- Multiple part shapes, including rectangles and circles
- Text support
- User-defined properties
- Cut and paste selection/placement
- Part grouping
- Property summaries
- Parts Library

3D Features

The 3D imaging of gbVRML is the best part. gbVRML creates VRML files on the fly and uses a built-in VRML viewer to view the results.

- Realtime inline VRML viewer
- VRML primitives, including text
- Object textures
- Insertion of external VRML objects
- View/edit of VRML source code
- Manual edit of VRML source code

Export/Reporting Features

Making the best of your gbVRML design includes being able to use the results in other applications. Support for the following export options enhances your ability to use your gbVRML designs.

- WMF (compatible with Windows applications)
- BMP (compatible with Windows applications)
- WRL (VRML file type) - Excel (parts lists)
- Clipboard
- Printed layout/part lists


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Examples

gbVRML allows you to create a wide variety of designs. Here are some examples to whet your appetite.

    Simple Objects

    Transparent Objects

    Floating Objects

    Floating Objects

    Textures

    Textures on Top


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Main Window

gbVRML allows the user to create a 2D design by adding objects to a 2D drawing pane (see the main window image below). Additional properties may be entered for each object (in the Part Properties window) and the results are immediately shown in the 3D viewing pane.

gbVRML uses the concept of a 'layout', which is a surface on which the objects are said to be placed. This layout, which may be optionally be excluded from the project, is included in the 3D viewing pane just like any other object which has been added to the gbVRML project.

The four basic sections of the main window are the menus, toolbar, 2D drawing pane, and VRML viewer. All design activity is performed within the 2D drawing pane and the 3D results of the design are instantly displayed within the 3D viewing pane. Note that there is a splitter bar which resizing of the relative sizes of the 2 panes.

Note that gbVRML requires that you set your screen resolution to at least 800x600.

Menu and toolbar operation is discussed below, including a context menu available by right mouse clicking on the 2D drawing pane.


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Toolbars

gbVRML has an extensive toolbar to help you design your project quickly. The toolbar can be broken into the following sections:


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Toolbar: Project Management

There are 4 buttons which correspond to standard windows application menu options:

  • New - clears the current project
  • Save - saves the project under the current filename
  • Open - presents a dialog window for selection of a project file to open
  • Print - prints the current 2D image to the default printer


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Toolbar: Edit Mode

The 2D drawing pane can be set for any one of eight modes. The select and rotate modes act on objects already in the design, whereas the Line, Ellipse, Rectangle, Freestyle, Polygon and Text modes allow the user to create new objects using the mouse alone.

  • Select - allows the mouse to select one or more objects
  • Line - draw a line
  • Ellipse - draw an ellipse
  • Rectangle - draw a rectangle
  • Freestype - draws a freestyle line
  • Polygon - draws object using connected straight-line segments
  • Text - create a text object with editable text
  • Rotate - free rotation of selected objects


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Toolbar: Part Properties

A Part Window is available to set individual part properties but gbVRML also provides some special features on the toolbar to make working with parts easier.

  • Delete - Deletes the selected parts
  • Duplicate - Duplicates the selected parts
  • Color - Changes the color of selected parts and of the default color as well
  • Increase - Sets the sign of the Size and Offset toolbar buttons
  • Size - Increases/decreases the ZAxis dimension of a selected object
  • Offset - Incresaes/decreases the ZAxis offset of a selected object
Note that the size/offset options will affect a 'group', but not the underlying objects within the group. Once 'ungrouped', the objects retain their original properties.


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Toolbar: Grid Settings

gbVRML provides several grid options to help in the accurate placement of objects.

  • Grid - determines whether the grid is displayed
  • Snap To Grid - determines whether object dimensions follow grid positions
  • AutoScale - scales the project to display within the 2D drawing pane


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Toolbar: 3D Settings

Once object properties are set in either the 2D drawing pane or the Part Window, these toolbar buttons affect how the objects are displayed.

  • Texture - determines whether the texture images are displayed
  • Texture On Top - when textures are shown, determines if the texture displays only on the top of cube objects
  • Layout - determines whether the layout is included in the 3D display
  • Controls - determines whether the 3D viewing pane controls are displayed (when hidden, the mouse must be used to control the display)
  • Color - cycles the background color of the 3D vieweing pane
  • Object - use existing WRL files to replace gbVRML objects


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Menus

gbVRML has several menu options to help you design your project quickly. The menu options are:

File Edit Actions VRML View Help Popup


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File

These functions are typical Windows application features.
  • New - clears the current project
  • Open - opens a dialog box for selecting a filename to open
  • Save - saves the project under the current filename
    gbVRML projects are saved as two files, one with a .wpp extension and a second with a .dat extension.
  • Save As - opens a dialog box for selecting a filename under which to save the current project
  • Revert - re-loads the contents of the current filename
  • Print (All) - prints the 2D drawing pane
  • Print (Selection) - prints only the selected objects
  • Import (WMF) - reads a WMF file in as a project
  • Import (VRML2) - reads a WRL file into the 3D pane - DOES NOT create a new gbVRML project
  • Export (WMF) - creates a WMF file from the project data
  • Export (VRML2) - puts the VRML source code into a specified file
  • Export (2D BMP) - creates a BMP file of the 2D drawing pane
  • Export (3D BMP) - creates a BMP file of the 3D drawing pane
  • Exit - closes gbVRML
  • Recent Files - Displays the 4 most recently opened/saved files


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Edit

These functions provide a primary means of moving images to other Windows applications, as well as to the gbVRML object library.
  • Cut - removes the select objects and places them on the clipboard
  • Copy - copies the selected objects onto the clipboard
  • Paste - pastes objects from the clipboard to the 2D drawing pane
  • Copy (2D Image) - copies an image of selected objects from the 2D pane onto the clipboard
  • Copy (3D Image) - copies the image from the 3D viewing pane to the clipboard
  • Send to Library - sends selected objects to the Libary window (if it is displayed)


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Actions

Most of these menu actions are performed on the selected part(s).
  • Duplicate - duplicates the selected objects (offset slightly for ease of viewing)
  • Array - Creates a 3-dimensional array of the selected object
  • Rotate (Left) - rotates the selected objects 90 degrees counter clockwise
  • Rotate (Right) - rotates the selected objects 90 degrees clockwise
  • Rotate (Free) - allows the user select and freely rotate objects with the mouse
  • Order (Bring to Front) - controls the display of objects in the 2D drawing pane
  • Order (Send to Back) - controls the display of objects in the 2D drawing pane
  • Select (All) - forces selection of all objects in the project
  • Select (None) - forces selection of no objects in the project
  • Select (Invert) - selects all unselected objects and drops the selection for currently selected objects
  • Group - combines the selected objects into a single object
  • UnGroup - replaces a group object with its members


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VRML

The VRML menu offers a variety of settings which affect the display of the 3D pane.
  • VRML Source - display a text file containing the source code for the current VRML display
  • Save Home Position - Click here to save the current position within the 3D pane
  • Reset to Home Position - Click here to return to the Home Positon
  • Anti-Aliasing - provides improved quality display (also significantly slows down image movement)
  • Plane View - different method of viewing the 3D pane
  • Layer Explosion - creates an "exploded view" of the project by separating objects by layer


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View

The View menu offers a selection of windows which allow entry or display or various aspects of a gbVRML project.
  • Project Properties - entry of project properties
  • Part Properties - entry of part properties (one part at a time)
  • Library - displays objects which may be pasted into the 2D drawing pane
  • Layout - entry of properties which affect the display of the project
  • Textures - determine if the Textures are shown on the main window
  • Index - displays a selection of material properties which may be associated with an object
  • Summary - summarizes project design parameters, including user defined properties
  • Project Parts List - provides a way to make mass changes to objects within the current project
  • Topography - Supports 3D equation plotting, including manual entry of data points


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Help

Help for gbVRML is available only online. No separate .HLP file is distributed with gbVRML.
  • Web Site - Opens the default browser to the gbVRML Help page
  • About - Displays a dialog window with revision information about gbVRML


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Popup Menu

This menu is displayed when a right mouse click is made on a selected part in the 2D drawing pane and are identical to their menu equivalents except as noted.
  • Cut
  • Copy Objects
  • Rotate Free
  • Duplicate
  • Cube - sets part VRML type to Cube
  • Sphere - sets part VRML type to Sphere
  • Cylinder - sets part VRML type to Cylinder
  • Cone - sets part VRML type to Cone
  • Group
  • UnGroup
  • Properties - if only one object is selected, calls the Part Properties window


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Project Window

Generic information about a gbVRML project may be entered here. In addition there are 3 part properties which gbVRML allows the user to define. The titles of those 3 properties are entered here. The total of the values in each properties are given in the Summary Window.

The Project Title entered here is used as the title for printing the 2D drawing pane image.

The remaining items are for reference purposes only.

Values entered in this window will be lost unless the 'Apply' button is pressed before the window is closed.


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Part Window

Each of the parts created in a gbVRML project are given certain properties as they are created (height, width, color, ...). In addition to the properties seen in the 2D drawing pane, other properties may be defined for the objects. Most are associated with displaying the part as a 3D object (ZAxis height, texture, type of VRML primitive, ...).

Values entered in this window will be lost unless the 'Apply' button is pressed before the window is closed. However, if the Auto checkbox is checked then values are saved automatically and their effect displayed in both the 2D and 3D panes.


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Layout Window

gbVRML uses the concept of a 'layout', which is simply the surface on which the objects are placed. The layout can be given properties much like any other part, but it's properties (particularly its top surface location) is used as the 'home' for many of gbVRML's calcluations.

gbVRML projects can be set to exclude the layout object if desired.

Values entered in this window will be lost unless the 'Apply' button is pressed before the window is closed. However, if the Auto checkbox is checked then values are saved automatically and their effect displayed in both the 2D and 3D panes.


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VRML Source Window

A VRML source file is simply a text file. The source code for the currently displayed VRML scene can be viewed here.

gbVRML also allows you to edit the source code and display the resulting scene in the VRML viewer. However, the edited code is not saved nor incorporated into the current project. This feature is provided for simple experimentation with the VRML source code.

Be careful using this feature! gbVRML cannot capture all possible source code errors and you project is subject to crashing if you make a mistake in the code. Be sure to save any unsaved project before using this feature.


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Summary Window

This window provides a summary of the contents of the current gbVRML project. Both project level and part level summary information is show.

It also adds up the 3 user defined fields (in this example, power, weight and cost were the 3 user defined field titles). The values in the user defined fields are assumed to be one-thousandth units, hence the '0.000' display shown in this window.


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Index Window

This window provides information about the physical materials of which the objects are made up. For each object you create, you may select one of these Index entries to represent the object. At this time, none of the gbVRML features utilizes this information.


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Project Parts List

Normally you would right-mouse click on a selected part to get its property window. However, sometimes you will want to make changes to many parts at one time, or you might want to import a parts list from another application such as Excel.

This window supports these, and other functions on the parts list as a whole. However, take care, because applying the contents of this window wil erase the main project and replace it with the list of parts in the spreadsheet.


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Installation Problems

    "cannot load internal viewer"

    Several of my overseas users get this error. It happens because the internal VRML viewer in gbVRML requires a period for a decimal separator. gbVRML now detects which systems do not use the decimal and alert the user to change the Regional Settings. Many international settings use the comma for the decimal separator, which will cause gbVRML to fail on startup.

    OCX Registration Failed

    Some users have gone through the installation process successfully only to find that the first time they run gbVRML they get an error saying that one of the OCX's distributed with gbVRML is not registered. In these cases the user must manually register the OCX by going to the directory where the OCX is installed (\windows\system for Win95/98 or \winnt\system32 for NT) and executing the following command. The 'xxxx' is the name of the OCX which did not sucessfully register during the installation. REGSVR32.EXE is a registration utility normally found on PCs as part of the Win95/98/NT operating systems. The reason for the registration problem is not yet understood, although the manual fix seems to work for most users.

    REGSVR32 xxxx.OCX



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Design Limitations

    Object Grouping

    Grouping of objects is not fully supported in that some commands in gbVRML operate only on the group object itself, not on the objects which make up the group. Most importantly, a 2D group will be displayed in 3D as a single cube object rather individual displays of the underlying objects.

    VRML Primitives

    To create the VRML source file, gbVRML assumes that each object in a project is one of the five VRML primitives (cube, cylinder, cone, sphere, and text). The 2D drawing pane allows users to create freestyle, and polygon objects but these objects can only be displayed in the 3D viewing pane as one of the VRML primitives. This issue will be resolved in gbVRML Pro but will not be fixed in the freeware version of gbVRML. The dimension used to determine the size of the VRML primitive is based on keeping the same footprint (coverage of the layout area) as the rectangle that bounds the 2D object.

    VRML Text

    gbVRML supports flat text, but does not support extruded text. Text extrusion will be supported in the gbVRML Pro version.

    VRML Background Color

    While the 2D drawing pane supports all colors, the background for the 3D viewing pane is limited to 16 basic colors. No fix is possible as this is inherent to the 3rd party 3D viewing control used in gbVRML.



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Unfixed Problems

  • The 3D pane font does not match the 2D font. This will require some significant code changes to my VRML source code generator - but I plan to do this in a future version of gbVRML.
  • The displayed 3D text is not accurately aligned with the 2D image. The 3D text is displayed slightly up (in the Y direction). This will be fixed in a future version