Monday, May 14, 2007

World Wind Java is finally out

Its not a girl, its not a boy... it is a SDK, a pre-alpha version named 'Early Access 0.2'.

The long awaited - and a bit mysterious, World Wind Java from Nasa Learning Technologies has finally been unveiled (some demo video) at the Java One Conference 2007, last week in San Francisco.

Although it comes with several limited demo, it is not intended to become a full featured application like the actual World Wind, but a tool kit for developers to build "100s of World Winds" - as Tom Gaskins, WWJ Technical Manager states it on the WWJ FAQ.

One of the unique features of WWJ is that it will be able to run on any computer supporting Java - with a bit of muscles though, from a local install or right off the Web, using Sun's Java Web Start technology. Words of applets embedded in a web page have been floating around... but i have not seen any so far.

This geospatial, 3D interplanetary exploration tool, giving access to global, detailed, images and informations about our planet and beyond... can run on most computers on Earth in a way or an other, and probably just now if connected to the Internet. Whether it could be uploaded to the Mars rovers or onboard future missions as not been said yet.

However, as of today, the SDK is still a work in progress and wil continue to evolve until a stable version emerge - "No date for a stable release has been established yet" says WWJ Technical Manager - after a year in development and Sun Microsystem involvement.

The release has drown a fresh crowd of enthusiastic World Wind users on the newly started WWJ forum. Over last weekend some have already posted startup instructions and tips for developers using Eclipse or Netbean IDE. All useful information is gathered by the active WW community on the World Wind Central Wiki - in a constant effort to balance the chronic lack of documentation from NLT.

The full potential and impact of this new and promising NASA software is yet to be discovered as many start to try out ways to use it in their own projects and visions.

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