Java 3D Programming, by Daniel Selman, (Paperback, 302 pages); ISBN 1-930110-35-9

Reviewed by: Songmuh Jong, send e-mail
Published by: Manning Publications Co., go to the web site
Full text online: go to the site
Source code: go to the site
Requires: Java 2 SDK, Java3D, OpenGL-compatible 3D graphics card with 16MB or more memory, 256MB or more RAM
MSRP: $49.95

Following its effort on Microsoft DirectX (The Awesome Power of Direct3D/ DirectX), Manning Publishing has produced another 3D programming book, this time for Java. Books on 3D graphics have always been ahead of their time because most of the mainstream desktop computers do not have the power to run the memory and CPU- intensive 3D applications. Even the 3D specification may be partly a projection above the current hardware and software capability. When it comes to 3D Java, it is even more convenient for programmers to blame slow operation on Java itself. Nonetheless, it is still fun to see how this topic is presented.

In order to follow the book's examples, you must install Java 2 and Java3D. This is detailed in Appendix A of the book. If you cannot run the Sun demo applications at the command prompt, don't panic. You may still run some simple demos as applets in Internet Explorer. The author complains about the difficulty of deploying Java 2 and editing classpath. This is misleading because Internet Explorer has a good interface for downloading and installing Java runtime over the Internet. Sun's new installation file automatically adds the plugin to integrate with the Internet Explorer. There is no need to edit classpath unless the Java code is deployed as an application.

This books covers a lot of topics in a relatively small space, including scenegraph, universe, geometry, lights, behavior and texture. The source code and binaries can be downloaded from the book's web site (see below). The downloaded ZIP file contains three nicely packed directories: classes, javadoc and src. Reading the book and trying out the samples is only a matter of clicking and a few keystrokes. This is very important because Java3D samples are usually lengthy. The last chapter is an analysis of the architecture of Java3D classes and thus rounds up a discussion of this new frontier.

Readers who have an interest in 3D programming using Java should not miss this book. Manning Publications places the whole book online for free viewing (see the links below). It has been there for several months, but we cannot guarantee that it will stay there forever. If you are interested in Java 3D programming, view it while it is still online!

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