PixieViewer puts OpenSim in browser

PixieTec, a virtual worlds development company based in Germany, released the preview version of its browser-based PixieViewer today, which allows users to visit OpenSim grids without installing any software or plugins.

PixieViewer is based on HTML 5 technology, and runs in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and other modern browsers. It loads instantly, and is fast and responsive. To access it, all users have to do is go to the login page and create a new user account.

According to company founder Thomas Buchauer, also known as Sunny Samander in-world, the viewer can display both prim and mesh objects.

Chatting with Buchauer on PxieGrid without leaving the browser.

In addition, basic building and texturing functionality is already supported, as well as local chat.

Thomas Buchauer

The viewer requires that the OpenSim accessed is running a special module. The module will be free for non-commercial use, and the viewer itself will be open source, Buchauer told Hypergrid Business.

The module is currently being tested by two other grids, he said, but not yet available to the public.

It will take two to six months before it’s ready, said Buchauer.

“A preview might come earlier,” he added.

According to Buchauer, PixieViewer uses WebGL for rendering 3D Scenes, Websockets and asynchronous HTTP connections to communicate to a backbone, and highly optimized JavaScript code libraries for calculations.

Because it uses standard HTML 5 technology, it should be accessible on mobile devices such as Android tablets and iPads, though users were having problems getting it to work today.

Since a special module is required, this viewer would not work for accessing Second Life regions, unless Linden Lab adopted compatible technology.

3D printing from the viewer

One unique feature of PixieViewer is it’s built-in 3D printing functionality.

I rezzed the Buddha on the left, then clicked on the “3D Printing” sign.

All three objects inside the red cube were sent to a 3D printing facility — the Buddha, a disk, and a cube. These are the previews of the mesh objects at i.materialise.com.

“I work together with i.materialise.com and embedded their consumer print API,” said Buchauer. “They are the biggest printing facility in the world and can print in many different materials, like ceramics and metal. The first use case will be to import some OpenSim inventory and then print it directly using PixieViewer.”


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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

8 Responses

  1. whitestarm@gmail.com' WhiteStar Magic says:

    This is what has been needed for ages and it looks like “the breakthrough product” that would allow OpenSimulator to move beyond it’s limitations from the LL Viewer Codebase. Browser Based Viewer is the way of the future and LL should have done that instead of creating V2/3 Viewers, or at least they should have done it in concert. The days of “proprietary software” with heavy hardware requirements is numbered.
    By the end of this year, there will be few if any Third Party Viewers being coded that would be serviceable for OpenSim, as the LL codebase continues to change the way it is. The amount of effort that will is required to exclude A,B,C libraries / code , from viewers connecting to OpenSim and to add in substitutes to continue working without the proprietary LL bits is escalating. It’s not a simple thing to do as it is and there comes a time when it’s simply just not feasible or equitable to continue bashing ones head against the viewer code walls.
    Look at Cloud party for example, it’s new, browser based and growing exponentially… Why ? Because it works on most platforms, easy to use, lower learning curve, quicker adoption & acceptance. OpenSim + PixieViewer could become the next wave that takes OpenSimulator into the future and guarantee’s both success, to everyone’s benefit & enjoyment.

    • whitestarm@gmail.com' WhiteStar Magic says:

      Dang… sorry about the messy msg above. The formatting got totally mulched after posting. Makes it a harder read.

      • I totally agree with you. A platform has to either serve a critical purpose, or keep bringing in new users.

        So OpenOffice, say, doesn’t have to worry about recruitment. But, for the most part, Second Life does. And it’s a LOT easier to recruit someone to come to an event or a meeting if all they have to do is click on a link.

        It’s a lot harder when you have to tell them to get there an hour early to download the viewer, create their avatar, learn to move around, make sure the voice settings are working… by the time you get through all that, even the most loyal friend will be ready to abandon you to the wolves.

        And even when Second Life is serving a critical purpose — in schools, or companies — having to download the viewer and get through the corporate firewall is also a huge, huge, huge obstacle.

  2. graymills says:

    Mobile Firefox gave best results on Android Nexus 7 (compared to Chrome, Dolphin and mobile Opera). Tended to get locked into movement mode though otherwise very promising.

    • whitestarm@gmail.com' WhiteStar says:

      It appears that MSIE 10 is as yet unsupported. As I won’t use Firefox or Chrome, means I’ll have to wait a tad longer to be able to test. It’s a shame really, as the “packaging on the box” makes this sound very promising indeed.

  3. JoJaDhara says:

    And I had a go with it.. http://fablabflevoland.blogspot.nl/2013/03/mijn-cirkel-is-rond.html it is in Dutch but at the end you get the hang of it. So cool!

  4. gholden@onlineschool.ca' Gord Holden says:

    Hello all. Anyone here with insights regarding how pixieviewer might work with Active Worlds? I’m assuming that there would be the same problem as with SL, but would be very, very excited to hear otherwise. Thanks.

  5. Made a visit there a few days ago. The avatars look quite different. Will it work with “only” an additional module, or will the OpenSIM server’s engine need more changes, like RealXtend did in the Past ?