Discussions

News: Project Looking Glass released under open source

  1. "The client is back", according to Jonathan Schwartz. Project Looking Glass is a desktop window manager which works with a 3D world. The creator of the technology officially open sourced the Java 3D technology, and promised that Looking Glass itself would be opened as soon as it is ready.

    The technology does "look cool", however I do sometimes wonder that:

    a) What is the market for this desktop (comparing to Windows and OSX)
    b) Although looking cool, does it make you work better

    I do feel that we are in the stone age with respect to desktops. We are like apes that can just point at things and shout (sometimes shouting twice :)

    JavaOne: Sun opens Looking Glass, sees more Java clients

    Sun to GPL Project Looking Glass

    Project Looking Glass home page

    Threaded Messages (29)

  2. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

    Excitedly, after looking at the screenshots, I have to wonder, "Who would want to use this?"

    I try about everything once, but I can't see this being a useful tool to get around the OS. Opinions?
  3. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

    I am skeptic if there can be a total redefinition of how we must deal with computers. It sounds like: ok, lets change the way people drive cars, take the wheel, pedals and shaft out, and reinvent the car's "user interface". Can it really be done, and end up better than the original? Ok, computers are more flexible than cars, but maybe computer UIs have evolved to something that is as natural as it can be, and beyond that, it becomes unnatural... I don't know, this is my opinion only, but given 2D nature of screens, trying to apply 3D concepts into it won't feel so natural (it works for games, but will it work for your everyday job?). Maybe one day when we get those fancy holographic displays... ;)

    Regards,
    Henrique Steckelberg
  4. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

    I think for inactive windows, it's an interesting way to handle screen real estate. When I typically have multiple windows open on one desktop, I have to resize each one to fit so that I can see them all at once. I may not be typing in those windows, nor do they need focus, but I do like to see them all at once w/o having to bring one to the foreground potentially covering up another window.

    For example, I might be tailing a log on a server while running the application in a browser. I think it would be dandy to be able to tilt the window back in 3d space so that I can still see and read the log, and then have my application window be flat/2d right next to it. This would allow my application window to be larger, and it would also allow my terminal window to be larger as well, but not overlap windows.

    I wouldn't see much benefit in wanting to navigate an application or type a letter with the tilted window, but I could see it being useful for read-only/dashboard style GUIs.

    I think of it more of like a real desk. Your office desk at work or at home isn't a flat 2d working environment, so why should should your virtual desk be?
  5. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

     Your office desk at work or at home isn't a flat 2d working environment, so why should should your virtual desk be?
    Because your virtual desk *is* 2D.

    It might look nice in 3D, but it's not practical. Everyone who has ever tried to manipulate a 3D environment on a screen (or even play a computer game) knows how hard it is.

    On a screen, your senses only receive a fraction of the stimuli they would need to be able to make a true assessment of your position relative to other objects in a 3D space.

    I am betting that a 2D desktop will always be faster to use than Looking Glass. Always. People will marvel at Looking Glass, say "wow it's nice" and then return to their trusted desktop which lets them get their job done faster.

    --
    Cedric
  6. http://www.wired.com/news/autotech/0,2554,63467,00.html
  7. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

    Excitedly, after looking at the screenshots, I have to wonder, "Who would want to use this?"
    Who doesn't believe in direct manipulation for GUIs?! Virtual reality is the manifest destiny of GUIs. Why do the Microsoft and Macintosh look-n-feels use shading (a 3D effect)? Could it be that 3D widgets are easier to use?

    Often the point of software in the workplace is to assist the management of multidimensional subject matter. How do you present multidimensional data?

    Software development itself can benefit from 3D for navigating source code or performance data. A document is a one dimensional string of text characters. Yet we insist on two dimensional presentation. Presumably a stack (or other grouping) of documents is a three dimensional beast. And source code is documents. That's a naive example of developer visualization, but there are other, more compelling ones.
  8. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

    And maybe (finally?) it can become more than just "data".
  9. If I could twist windows[ Go to top ]

    Then, it'd be pretty neat. I could have an IRC client, and twist all but the tabs away from view, leaving the important easily seen while I work in other apps.

    Of course, you could achieve the same effect with multiple windows - ie, let the tabs (which change color as people send messages) exist in their own tiny window, and when you click one, it brings up the whole app...

    In the end, I have to agree that 3D on a 2D display buys you little.
  10. If I could twist windows[ Go to top ]

    In the end, I have to agree that 3D on a 2D display buys you little.
    I've pointed out why that's narrow minded. Also, the cost and quality of 3D displays is subject to progress akin to Moores Law. Eventually they'll be customary. For now 3D rendition has ergonomic value regardless of display technology.
  11. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

    A document is a one dimensional string of text characters. Yet we insist on two dimensional presentation. Presumably a stack (or other grouping) of documents is a three dimensional beast. And source code is documents. That's a naive example of developer visualization, but there are other, more compelling ones.
    Hi Brian,

    Exactly my thoughts too.
    Lets take the example of a book shelf. The way we see our book shelf and arrange books in it,is different from the current desktop ui,in that, we just click and then click and click again, to see the list of books(files). The desktop UI is like a tree structure. In real world the book shelf is not a tree like structure.

    But looking at the screenshots it seems to be a 3D visualization of multiple windows.am wondering too.
  12. Just wondering...[ Go to top ]

    Why do the Microsoft and Macintosh look-n-feels use shading (a 3D effect)? Could it be that 3D widgets are easier to use?
    Right now I´m using Mozilla Firebird with Bluemonkey theme. The reason: it doesn´t clutter my desktop with useless information like shadows and other 3-D simulacra. Well, I try to conserve screen real-state like hell... it´s too scarce.
    How do you present multidimensional data?
    Have you seen Thinkmap? http://www.visualthesaurus.com/index.jsp
    A document is a one dimensional string of text characters. Yet we insist on two dimensional presentation. Presumably a stack (or other grouping) of documents is a three dimensional beast.
    But the screen is 2-D, though...
    --
    Bill Coutinho.
  13. Not with a Mouse[ Go to top ]

    Looking Glass will never unleash its potential with the input/pointing devices currently in use.
    I think it will be pretty useless until somebody invents some more advanced thing than a mouse, that is already quite aged and designed for 2D.
    But not a joystick, please :)
  14. Re: Not with a Mouse[ Go to top ]

    I completely agree. As the "desktop" metaphor is extended (or stretched) to 3d visualization, our avatar for direct manipulation of these objects must become more robust than a a single 2d coordinate.

    One possibility is a touchscreen, where the OS interprets any point of contact as a UI event. This would allow simultaneous dragging operations and gesture-based shortcuts. When I look at these tablet PCs, they seem perfect for this type of interaction.
  15. Not with a Mouse[ Go to top ]

    Looking Glass will never unleash its potential with the input/pointing devices currently in use.I think it will be pretty useless until somebody invents some more advanced thing than a mouse, that is already quite aged and designed for 2D.But not a joystick, please :)
    Hmmm. I got a 3D mouse with the electronic drawing pad I bought a few years back. (bought it for my wife to do art on the computer. another stupid purchase) I wonder what it does?

    There are some possibilities in this area. The gloves with sensors. Also, there are musical instruments that allow you to control them by waving your hands in certain area. Of course there is that little thing about physical feedback.
  16. Not with a 2D Mouse[ Go to top ]

    Ok, I changed the title.
    Probably I didn't put my idea right. I was thinking more of a general purpose device, that could spread as widely as the current mouse.
    I doubt it will be the one you've already bought. Probably a hybrid of some devices, but who knows... Sun has to propose something.
  17. Not with a 2D Mouse[ Go to top ]

    Ok, I changed the title.Probably I didn't put my idea right. I was thinking more of a general purpose device, that could spread as widely as the current mouse.I doubt it will be the one you've already bought. Probably a hybrid of some devices, but who knows... Sun has to propose something.
      I was sort of agreeing with you. Typing as I though. I doubt the mouse I have will work. It is probably for drawing 3D.

      I think for the first cut, a 2d mouse will work. But if they want to take it further and make real good use of the 3D paradigm something else will need to be used. Although gamers seem to get along fine with a mouse and keyboard.
  18. Not with a Mouse[ Go to top ]

    There are some possibilities in this area. The gloves with sensors. Also, there are musical instruments that allow you to control them by waving your hands in certain area.
    Sure, the devices are only just emerging, but that isn't important. What matters is that the human sensorium is 90% visual. Our brains expect to be immersed in a stereoscopic scene, and this empirical condition will surely drive device evolution.
  19. Not with a Mouse[ Go to top ]

    There are some possibilities in this area. The gloves with sensors. Also, there are musical instruments that allow you to control them by waving your hands in certain area.
    Sure, the devices are only just emerging, but that isn't important. What matters is that the human sensorium is 90% visual. Our brains expect to be immersed in a stereoscopic scene, and this empirical condition will surely drive device evolution.
    They are important for the full effect. But this (getting it out there) is a necessary step in that direction. "Feeling it" is way under-estimated.
  20. 2D is good enough???[ Go to top ]

    I see very little advantage to a 3D desktop. The screen (http://wwws.sun.com/software/products/projectlookingglass/ss12.jpg) for example. The 10 CDs could just as easily be selected from a tree menu or in the thumbnail view on windows.

      The user interface of computers has evolved greatly since the early days. For example: the tree structure for storing files is wonderfull, how are you going to improve that with 3D?

      Cool project to work on, but not that usefull.
  21. 2D is good enough???[ Go to top ]

    I see very little advantage to a 3D desktop. The screen (http://wwws.sun.com/software/products/projectlookingglass/ss12.jpg) for example.
    Yes! Such a compelling example of 3D! Perspective is a visual phenomenon that allows some of the screen real estate of inactive windows to be reclaimed without the usability penalty of minimization.
  22. to answer your question[ Go to top ]

    You posted in 2004 I am posting in 2013, nine years later your answer is it is all about the looks most of microsoft is partly 3d and so is macs. 

  23. don't need to be 3d, but just like OSX
  24. Useless stuff...[ Go to top ]

    Just my opinion of course. But all the super-duper usability progress that we were supposed to have seen in Windows/Mac etc. falls (in terms of productivity) way short of a decent, easy to use virtual desktop environment. Only fools believe that with shuffling stuff on your desk in 3D buys you any productivity. What buys you productivity is a larger desk for a start and a chair with wheels, that allows you to work on two or three (paper) files :-) and use a couple of reference books at the same time. Unfortunately the UNIX camp discredited the virtual desktop with the cde desaster and the MS and Apples have not yet understood the power of the metaphor. Tragic, my dear Holmes, tragic!
  25. This is 3D?[ Go to top ]

    I agree with other posters, this seems to be just a re-arrangement of the current desktop paradigm. When I saw the "3D" moniker, I was looking for something like the Quake/Doom/Unreal/etc... look and feel where you navigate around a virtual world, interacting with objects.
  26. Well I think it's cool[ Go to top ]

    I'm very happy to see at least some Java developers get to do some cool development work anyway!

    Now I want it projected onto one of those semi-opaque screens and with a VR glove I can pretend to be Tom Cruise in Minority report :-)

    I do emphasize pretend.
  27. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to a desktop, the most important thing is how easily and quickly does it let me do my work (or play, or aimless wander on the net). For instance, one of the best desktop tricks I've ever seen is the ALT-TAB introduced by Windows to switch application. Which also brings another parameter: a power user tends to want to use the keyboard rather than the mouse to do work because he's quicker with the keyboard.

    With current desktops, the major problem I have is when I work on different things at the same time. For instance, I might have 2 shell windows open to work on the development version of our product, 2 more open on the bugfix branch of the previous version, plus the IDE and a few other things. Switching from one to the other quickly becomes a pain because the desktop has no idea that the out of the 4 shell windows, I really have 2 groups of 2. Things like being able to have an extended ALT-TAB that would bring a text box in which I could type a few characters so that the desktop can offer me the choice between the windows that have those characters in their title. At the moment, I colour code the background of the window: blue for development, red for bugfix, etc.

    But when it comes to something like Looking Glass, it is true that the examples given on the site don't look like they bring more than a 2D desktop. But I am convinced that a 3D desktop is an interesting research thread and here are a few things that would be easier with them:
    • Have a 3D CVS browser where I can have the normal 2D directory tree and in the 3rd dimension the different branches on the source tree. Then allow me to rotate it in all 3 dimensions, show me the differences between the different branches. Then give me an easy way to merge stuff.
    • Same idea but have time in the 3rd dimension so that I can see the evolution of one source branch.
    • Let me "attach" several related windows together so that wherever they are on the desktop, and no matter how many windows I have, I can easily go from one window to another related one. E.g., the shell windows as I mentioned above or a file browser window linked to a file editor onw so that I can go easily from a file in the browser to the editor window where I am editing it, and back.
    I am sure there are plenty of other scenarios where a 3D desktop could help. The main thing is that it needs to be at least as easy to use as a 2D desktop. It might mean getting inventive in terms of navigation device. But at least someone's looking into what's possible. So I think Looking Glass is a good thing, it just needs to be taken further.
  28. Wow, I'm surprised by how negative people are about this. I think there are two things Looking Glass brings to the table: better graphics for the 2D interaction style we're all familiar with; and the possibility of exploring new ways to display and interact with information.

    The first point is basically about eye-candy, but then no-one flamed OS-X for looking nice... :-) Think of 3D widget sets and of not being restricted to rectangular windows. (Aside: I know there are programs for both Windows and Linux which already use non-rectangular windows, but these really just hide the rectangle by making parts of it transparent.) There's some great potential there.

    The second point is more interesting IMHO. 2D display and interaction has been refined over decades to get where it is today. At the same time we (computer users in general) have been getting more familiar with the paradigm. This process is only just beginning for 3D and Looking Glass is a useful stepping stone along that path.

    To all the people saying you can never beat 2D: it wasn't that long ago that many people were saying you could never beat the command line...
  29. it wasn't that long ago that many people were saying you could never beat the command line...
    And some of us still are !!!!
  30. it wasn't that long ago that many people were saying you could never beat the command line...
    And some of us still are !!!!
    Well, for some things, you really can't beat the command line... when everything else is not working, I am sure it is the command line who will come swiftly to save us all!! ;)

    Now really, it is a matter of how you can be more productive: if it is a 3D environment, so be it. But 3D UI still has to prove itself against 2D UI and command line.

    Regards,
    Henrique Steckelberg