By Michael Burns | on December 09, 2002
WireFusion 3 is a tool for developing dynamic Web presentations. It uses an arrangement of objects and connections to create behaviours for components in the presentation. Relationships can be displayed in the drag-&-drop Wire View, or a new tabular List View. A debugger is also available in this edition. Each object in a scene contains proprietary external modifiers called out-ports and in-ports. Connecting the action contained in the out-ports to the in ports of other objects adds actions to the scenes, passes data back and forth, and generally controls how the presentation behaves and appears. Objects can now be streamed into a Web page. Streaming settings, including the order in which objects appear, are all controlled by the Loading Manager, a new feature. When you’ve set up the presentation, it’s time to export it for HTML by selecting Publish from the file menu. Another addition to this version are Widgets such as radio buttons and sliders, for easy GUI creation. Demicron has also developed plug-ins for its authoring tool. One we looked at here, WireFusion 3D, doesn’t turn the application into a modelling tool – it’s where users go after creating a model. The plug-in requires a modicum of 3D knowledge, however, as well as a 3D application, such as 3DS Max or Alias|Wavefront Maya, to create the objects, set up lighting, textures and cameras, and export as VRML. Once in WireFusion, users can set the viewing angle, zoom, rotate, and pan control keys. The 3D plug-in also brings the ability to apply textures and texture arrays to objects. Users can send new textures to objects by setting up keyboard actions. We set up a revolving cube that could accept text typed in at the keyboard, and which displayed it in real time in the browser. This has obvious applications in gaming, chat rooms and even jazzy forms. Another plug-in is WF-Slideshow, which as the name suggests, enables users to add slideshow presentations to the Web page. Many tools out there offer this function of course, but this is a nice little addition to the WF toolbox, with 16 nifty transitions, and the ability to fully control all aspects of the presentation as before. WF-Video is a free plug-in for adding MPEG video to a presentation, simply by dropping a video object into the Wire View. The only format currently supported by the plug-in is MPEG-1 video with sound layers I and II, but as this is still popular among the streaming community, it isn’t as much of a problem as it seems. Users can set the behaviour of the movie at startup, such as whether to play to the end or begin looping. Again, streaming can be enabled, setting a buffer size to bring the video in gradually for better user experience. Disabling sound is also an option – an important one as it adds 45k to the download size of the movie. It’s then just a case of ‘publishing’ the presentation as before. To play the movie on the Web, upload the HTML file and its resources directory with all its contents to the Web server in the normal fashion. Once you get the hang of WireFusion – and it isn’t a steep leaning curve – the Web is your oyster. You’ll be adding transitions, actions, sounds, and mouse events to all your favourite industrial models before you know it.