Price When Reviewed: $199.95 . $699.95
Pros: New tools for navigation buttons and controls, full-screen option, higher resolution and better user interface
Cons: Pro version is more expensive than competition. We experienced some full-screen applet playing problems on a Mac
Tourweaver 2.0 is a virtual tour authoring application from Easypano of Shanghai. It’s designed to link panorama and other images for viewing on Web sites in a Java-based window.
Easypano also develops Panoweaver, which assembles spherical-view ‘immersive’ images from fisheye lens photographs. Tourweaver can handle these or panoramas from other sources, plus movies or normal flat 2D photographs.
As with the previous version, Tourweaver 2.0 is available in Standard (£105) and Professional (£360) versions. Standard is good value: nearly all of the features are implemented. Professional can support unlimited navigation maps in a project (Standard only allows one), it can export virtual tours as movies, and you can customize the file-loading ‘waiting’ image.
Multiple navigation maps can now be used in the same tour, so you can switch between completely different locations. Hotspots can be set up to link scenes or maps with fades and transitions.
Alternatively hotspots in scenes can now launch pop-up images, such as a higher-quality view of a picture on a wall. A new live ‘radar’ effect superimposes the direction and angle of view on the map as a panoramic scene rotates. Dynamic text areas can be defined so captions change as you switch scenes.
The workflow has been improved, too. There’s a layout toolbar with auto-alignment options, plus new snap-to grids and guides to help set up new skins. All major ‘panels’ (palettes) can either be floated or docked while you work.
The skin panel lets you group lists of skins into labelled folders. Nine skins are provided but you can create your own or import them from elsewhere.
Large images of 8,000-x-4,000 pixels (or above) can now be used for improved zooming. Tourweaver 2.0 offers several types of streamed loading for these. The rather small original scene or map playback windows can now be enlarged to full-screen by double-clicking.
Tourweaver 2.0 is a worthwhile upgrade to the original. It’s easier to use and offers new features that improve the viewer’s experience.