Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Croquet SDK 1.0 Released

Nonprofit ‘Croquet Consortium’ Releases Open-Source Software Tool Kit to Promote Collaborative 3-D Virtual Environments

DURHAM, N.C. – March 27, 2007 – A nonprofit consortium of academic and corporate partners announced Tuesday the release of a free software tool kit for developers to use in creating 3-D "virtual environments."

"We’re seeking to enable the creation of a rich series of interconnected ‘Croquet worlds’ where people can engage in productive collaborative interactions in support of learning and commerce -- worlds that can be created, maintained and continually modified without the constraints of proprietary computer code," said Julian Lombardi, assistant vice president of Duke’s Office of Information Technology.

The Croquet Consortium’s new "3-D Virtual Environments Software Developer’s Kit" (Croquet SDK 1.0) will promote collaboration among far-flung research teams working on everything from cancer cells to hurricanes, as well as active learning among students and their instructors. These networked 3-D teams from research, education and industry will be able to work together across a variety of computer platforms and devices, from laptops to cell phones.

"This will change the way people think about software and computation, from today’s device-oriented perspective to a perspective of computation as a persistent, pervasive service," said Patrick Scaglia, vice president of research and development at HP Labs.

Croquet 3-D virtual environments can support live discussion among worldwide collaborators who come together in "real time" within a 3-D virtual space. They may view, manipulate and revise documents, dynamic visualizations or large amounts of data from sources such as laboratories or supercomputing centers.

Added Greg Nuyens, chief executive officer of Qwaq Inc., "We have found Croquet to be a compelling platform technology for developing very large scale, richly featured and interlinked virtual environments. With the release of the Croquet SDK, we are excited about the new possibilities for using Croquet in our products and see benefits for developers everywhere."

For example, public health officials and epidemiologists across a country could use the Croquet environment to track the spread of an infectious disease by sharing a dynamically changing display of infection data. Similarly, architects and engineers could collaborate on a building design, or chemists and biologists could prototype different chemical compositions for a new drug.

The kit provides developers with a flexible tool to create virtual spaces with built-in networked telephony and a "late-binding object-oriented" programming language that allows multiple users to jointly create, animate or modify 3-D objects and dynamic simulations. Developers can also import and share resources, such as 2-D web applications or multimedia content, from their own systems. Working together across multiple locations, they can change simulations while they are running and work together to create new applications -- all in real time.

Croquet Consortium Launched

Industry and Education Leaders Launch The Croquet Consortium, Inc., a non-profit Foundation for Open Source Software Development.

DURHAM, N.C. – March 27, 2007 – HP (Hewlett-Packard), Duke University, The University of Minnesota, and Qwaq, Inc. have jointly announced the formation of The Croquet Consortium, Inc., a 501(3)c non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting the continued development and widespread adoption of open source Croquet technologies for use in education, research, and industry. The launch of The Croquet Consortium coincides with the Consortium’s release the open source Croquet Software Developer’s Kit 1.0 -- as free software under the Croquet Open Source License.

The Croquet Consortium provides an organizational base for the Croquet community of developers and users. Open to institutional and individual members, the Consortium offers an avenue for academic, corporate, and individual members ensure the long-term viability of the community by federating their Croquet software development projects mobilizing distributed resources on their behalf.

With the launch of The Croquet Consortium, Inc., the development and adoption of scalable Croquet-based applications for use in education, research and industry enters a new, expanded, and highly-inclusive phase of multi-institutional collaboration. The Consortium 1) establishes a legal home for the Croquet community, 2) coordinates the management, definition and release of core interoperable Croquet architecture, 3) provides a clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of freely available Croquet open source software artifacts, 4) supplies a management structure for the solicitation and mobilization of distributed development resources, and 5) creates a focal point for outreach activities, including the Consortium Website, Annual Conference, training workshops, fellowships, and sponsored projects.

Qwaq

We finally announced Qwaq. I am sure one or two of you were wondering why this blog went silent for such a long time. I had some good excuses - I was busy, and I didn't want to say anything about what I was doing anyway.

Qwaq was founded by a group of us that believe Croquet can have an impact on the business world. Even an open source project like Croquet must have a revenue stream to drive it, and Qwaq is the first of what I hope will be many companies that will focus their efforts around making Croquet even more valuable. You can read more about the company here: http://www.qwaq.com.

Alan Kay and David Reed are advisers to Qwaq and Andreas Raab is a cofounder so we are still working together. In addition, Greg Nuyens, our other co-founder is the Qwaq CEO. I met Greg at a previous company I co-founded, and was extremely impressed by his intelligence, drive, and in particular his interest in the customers.

Why Qwaq? I wanted a short word that was easy to remember and easy to type. Look at the top left three keys of your keyboard - QW are next to each other and the A is directly below these. I also thought that it sounded fun.

There is evidently quite a bit of interest out there in what we are doing. Typing Qwaq into Google and you will see an amazing amount of coverage just since we announced the product a few weeks ago. I should mention that Remy Malan is our VP of Enterprise and did a terrific job with this.

Finally, what impact will Qwaq have on the continued development of Croquet as an open source project? A very positive one. We are still extremely committed to this project and if anything have accelerated the amount of effort we have put into it. Croquet continues to improve - much of what we learned in building Qwaq Forums was directly incorporated into the next Croquet release (imminent) and I think it is better than ever. I plan to continue using this particular forum to keep people up-to-date on where Croquet will be going.

Thanks for checking back - it is a really exciting time for Croquet (Qwaq is just half of the story), so watch this space and the Croquet Project home for more details to come.