For my DPS909 Open Source class I was tasked with going to two different FSOSS presentations and writing a report on them. The way that I selected which presentations to go to was not by random selection or as a choice of interests but instead I selected the two I did based on the fact I knew the presenters; I thought this was a good idea because firstly they will appreciate the fact I came to watch them as well as the fact that I will be able to better analyze everything I see as a result of already somewhat knowing the presenters backgrounds as well as some of their opinions. This report will first summarize each talk in terms of what the presentation was about as well as what is the speaker’s background. Next it will analyze the speaker’s views on Open Source and lastly it will include a self-reflection on what I think and learned about Open Source after watching these presentations.
Building a Commercial Game Using Processing.js for Cross-platform Delivery
The second presentation I sent to was about something called XB PointStream. It was introduced by Cathy and presented by Andor Salga. The main purpose behind this talk was to talk about what XB PointStream is and how it came to be. Andor started his talk by talking a little bit about cdot, explaining what it is, how it works, how long he has been working there, and what he has been doing there. He talked about the projects currently going on there (Processing.js, Popcorn.js, Paladin) and which ones he has contributed to. He then started his discussion about XB PointStream by beginning to talk about Arius3D and what it is. Arius3D is a type of 3D object scanner and is based on 17 years of research by the National Research Council Institute for Information Technology. It consists of a laser scanner and a motion control system for moving the camera. The system characterizes each measurement point according to its colour and location in 3 dimensional space sing the principles of high resolution, low-noise, three-colour laser triangulation and optically-synchronized scanning. Each measurement point is described by three geometric values as XYZ and three reflectance values as RGB collected simultaneously from the target surface. Scanned data is recorded and processes by proprietary software to create high-quality 3D colour images of real-world objects. Now this system is world known as it is used not only in Canada but also in museums and galleries across the world. After a brief introduction to Arius3D Andor proceeded to talk about how Ariud3D wanted to look into finding a solution better than polygons for their 3D images and that's where they learned about point clouds. Point clouds are a different way of looking at object, where objects are presented as a dense cloud of points instead of polygons; these are higher quality and take less space. They found out about a plugin called 3DImagePlayer which draws 3D point clouds in internet explorer. The problem with this plugin that Arius3D encountered was that it is only supported by internet explorer, it requires installation and it requires the installer to have permissions. They came up with a conclusion that they need to develop an open source cross browser point stream plugin and so they came to Andor to create them such a plugin. Andor used WebGL which is a subset of OpenGL which gives direct access to the graphics card as well as being supported by all major browsers. Andor showed us a few demos of how this works as well as one where we can actually see a 3D image with PointStream on certain images if we have 3D glasses which Cathy kindly brought in. Andor's background is that he is a student at Seneca who started in cpa and then moved to BSD afterwards. He has been at Seneca for a few years now and he works part time at CDOT. He has been working with open source for a while and is a really good go to person when it comes anything to do with open source graphics. A really interesting thing about this project in contrast to most other open source projects is the fact that Andor works alone. While in something like processing.js there is a big community of people contributing and working together in Andor's case in PointStream he is the only one actually working on it. In conclusion this was a really interesting presentation about a different way to view 3D graphics and has taught me that open source although usually a community can also be smaller and only have one person working on it.
Between both of the presentations the point that comes across as being delivered is basically the same; open source is a very flexible way to create applications as well as it can be profitable in the right light. In both cases a pretty big company hired Seneca students to create something out of open source software and in both cases they were paid. One difference which would be good to mention is the fact that in the case of the dragon game the final product is not open source meaning you would have to buy it and obtain a license in order to use it while in the case of PointStream the final creation is an open source product meaning anybody could use it for the purpose of creating PointStreams in any browser they want as well as be able to edit code and suggest changes. In both cases the hiring company was very happy and satisfied with the final product, the dragon game is going to be a huge part of Spongelab's portfolio and Arius3D already has PointStream up on it's website as it's PointStream imaging software. While both companies have the opinion that open source can be effectively used in creating their applications Spongelab Interactive does not want it's software to be free as it sells the created software as a means for education meanwhile Arius3D does not wish to sell the created software but in actuality uses it to create it's own 3D PointStream images.
What I learned from these presentations reinforce my previous knowledge on open source with that fact that it can be easily and effectively used to create real world solutions and work is done mostly in communities of people. The new things I have learned which I did not know before is that you could actually have open source communities as small as one person who works alone and the other thing is that open source software can and is used to create for profit software such as in the case of Spongelab Interactive's dragon genetics game. The open source concept continues to innovate development and I think it is just getting started.