3D Message Free: the introduction into Shadow Analyzer Collection and 3D Communications
Free software for beginners to become familiar with Parametric CAD (for Windows XP / Vista / Win 7)
3D Message Free is an easy-to-use 3D tool for beginners ...
3D Message Free is the free introduction into the Shadow Analyzer Collection. It is a free software for beginners to become familiar with Parametric CAD. However, it is also a fully functioning application for 3D Messaging. It is a good tutor and helper for anyone who likes to illustrate an idea or an explanation easily and quickly by 3D drawing.
If you are new to the parametric CAD, start from 3D Message Free. The main purpose of 3D Message Free is to train you in the scene management. Build a few scenes following our online Tutorial to make sure how easy is to manipulate parametrical objects and how easy the CAD can be.
The user interface of the scene management is common for all products of the Shadow Analyzer Collection. In this sense, 3D Message Free is really an introduction into the collection. And you do not need to learn any specific ideas or methods of Parametric CAD to use this interface -- all is intuitive and very natural.
3D Message Free is an introduction into the collection also in another sense: its installation package contains the full Documentation for the entire collection. So after you become familiar with the user interface and read the general overview of our product line, you will be able to choose a more complex product that meets your needs.
Download the fully functioning free 3D Messaging tool that introduces you into our Shadow Analyzer Collection:
, read also the Installation instruction.
Next step ...
After you become familiar with the scene management in 3D Message Free following our online Tutorial, you are ready to make the next step. Find the description of products in the Documentation and choose one that corresponds to your interests. Then, download and try the time-unlimited Trial version of the product -- this step will make your choice of the product 100%-reliable.
Read more about Trial versions of our products on the "Products" page shown in the navigation bar.
Make the way shorter ...
Certainly, you can make the way shorter skipping the step with 3D Message Free and starting at once from the Trial version. In the Trial version, you can try both the user interface and the product options. You can train yourself in how to compose new scenes, but instead to save scenes in files you can transform multiple pre-created example scenes, including the scenes "et030_TS_Step_1" to "et030_TS_Step_7" for the topic Typical Session "How to build a simple but nicely looking scene" of the online Tutorial.
For solar professionals ...
And yet, the shortest way for solar professionals: read the chapter "Your Solar Project" in the Documentation to make your professional choice between Shadow Visualizer and Shadow Analyzer, and then use the "Go to buy ..." table on the "Products" page to go at once to the online store. You can enter the online store also from the "Shadow Visualizer" and "Shadow Analyzer" pages.
What does it mean "to manage a scene"?
With our free software 3D Message Free you can train yourselves in how to create and manage a scene. To manage a scene, you need an appropriate user interface. But before to consider the user interface, let us discuss briefly a few basic notions.
We hope you will agree if we define a scene as a set of objects that you can observe from different vintage points in a '3D View' widow. And what does it mean "to manage a scene"? Clearly, it means to be able to manipulate those objects. And what does it mean "to manipulate objects"? The answer is also clear, but it is a little bit longer.
Let us formulate a list of possible "actions on objects" that we need to have in hands:
- First of all, we need to be able to create an object and add it to a scene.
- Second, we need to be able to change its geometrical properties like its shape, position, and orientation.
- It would be nice if we could also to "attach" one object (a "child") to another object (a "parent"), so that the child-object will move and rotate together with the parent-object (as a "part" of the parent-object) in all further transformations of the scene. In this way, we would be able to construct the complex compound-objects consisting of combinations of more simple primitives.
- Then, we would like to be able to color objects and to set other optical properties of their surfaces, and so on ...
Well, it is enough for the beginning. We formulated what the functionality we expect from a 3D application. Actually, it is also the principal requirements for the user interface of the scene management.
At the end, we need to say a few words about the "selection":
- Before to change anything in an object, we need to "select" the object.
- Then, we need to select a group of the object properties, one of which we want to change.
- Afterwards we need to select this particular property itself.
- And then we need an appropriate control element of the interface to change (or to edit) the property.
So shortly the user interface should be a set of the control elements that allow us to select and change object properties. In the practice, it is much easier than it looks "in words" above.
Toolbars, combo boxes, edit and spin controls, etc. ...
After the general discussion above, we are ready to consider the user interface of 3D Message Free. Take a look on the picture below. The title bar and the menu bar are same as on the previous picture with the '3D View' window. Then you see a few toolbars and the "Status Bar".
The interface looks partly similar to an interface of a text editor (like MS Word). At least the first toolbar is completely traditional. And this similarity has a sense, because actually we are going to edit ... , but we are going to edit a 3D scene instead of a text.
The first toolbar is the "Document" toolbar . In this particular case, the word document means a scene file. Here you see well known buttons like "New Doc" to open a new blank scene, "Open Doc" to open a folder with scene files, etc.
The second toolbar is the "Factory" toolbar . We name it so, because it produces new objects for a scene. The key element here is the combo box "NEW". It contains the list with the predefined types of objects like 2D and 3D primitives 'Triangle', 'Box', 'Cone', 'Spherical segment', as well as some specific object types like 'buildings' or 'arrays of solar collectors'. After you select an object type and click on the 'N' button, the corresponding new object is added to the scene and appears in the first combo box of the next toolbar "Scene".
The third toolbar "Scene" serves to select and edit the shape properties of objects. Its first combo box "SCENE" selects an object, and its second combo box "PAR" selects a shape parameter. The predefined object-types have different lists of their shape parameters. This is the main advantage of the parametric CAD architecture. You can edit the shape parameters using edit- and spin-controls of the toolbar "Scene" and its 'E' button. Other buttons manage the appearance of the plane landscape background of the scene.
Next two toolbars "Location" and "Parent" serve to move and rotate objects, and to attach them one to another creating complex compound-objects. These toolbars become active only when an object is selected in the toolbar "Scene".
The toolbar "Color" serves to change the optical properties of the object surfaces. The button 'sr' will be added in the product 3D Draw Shadows to switch on/off the shadows that the object casts on other objects.
The toolbar "Show" allow you to regulate how the scene should be shown in the '3D View' window. It contains several filters to show/hide the objects' points, edges, faces, to show/hide the 'object'/'parent' coordinate systems of the selected object, to determine the projection type and how to show 'far' objects. The button 'tx' will be added in the product 3D Message to manage the textures.
The last toolbar "3D View" allow you to change the vintage point and the light direction in the '3D View' window.
The "Status Bar" shows very useful hints about the currently active control element. In particular, it explains in its status line the definitions of all selected parameters. So you always know what you can do next, and do not need to read the documentation permanently to remember multiple properties of objects.
Certainly, you will be the successful 3D designer once you had the patience to read to this point.
3D Message Free is a good helper for anyone who likes to illustrate an idea or an explanation easily and quickly by a 3D parametric model ...
3D Message Free is not only a good tutor. It is also a very useful helper for anyone who likes to illustrate an idea or an explanation easily and quickly by 3D drawing. But do not forget that 3D Message Free is yet an independent fully functioning tool for 3D Messaging.
Let us discuss the basic idea of 3D Communications realized in our software products. The parametric CAD methods and inner software architecture of our applications allow them to pack a huge amount of information into very short messages.
Please compare three ways to represent and send the information about a simple abstract scene containing for example a red cylinder and a 3D ellipsoid with the yellow glossy surface on the background of a green flat landscape:
- The first way is to produce and send a "pixel-after-pixel" picture of such the scene. If you use the simplest graphical BMP-format, and the picture size is of about 500 x 500 pixels, then you need to send a picture file with the size of about 1 MB. And note, it will be the static picture of the scene observed from only one vintage point.
Here we exploit our natural ability to recognize (reconstruct) a 3D scene by its 2D picture. Once we have the picture, we can understand the scene. So the application should be a "coder" / "decoder" that codes the picture into a picture file, and then (at the recipient's side) should to decode the picture file and show the picture. Any 2D drawing tool can implement this task.
In this case, pictures are a natural "language" of 3D communications. And the form of massages is any appropriate file-format of 2D Graphics. The question is: is this natural "language" effective for communications?
- The second way is to create and send a non-parametric "point-after-point" 3D model of such the scene. This idea is better, because if you have a CAD application that can decode the scene file, then your recipient will be able to observe the scene from different vintage points. However even in this case, the records of curved 3D surfaces like a 3D ellipsoid will include too many coordinates of individual points. And yet, your recipient will not be able to "edit" the shape of 3D surfaces, or will need to do it also by a "point-after-point" method.
Here we send not pictures but a specifically coded records of 3D models. The application at the recipient's side should to decode such records and transform them all in all also into "pictures". But these "pictures" are 3D views of the model. So the recipient can manage the vintage point independently on how the model was shown on the screen at the sender's side.
Again, the question is: can we improve the "language" of communications to send more information in shorter messages? In most CAD programs, a scene is not a single file but an entire "project" represented by a set of files of different contents and formats. So we need simultaneously to improve and to simplify our methods.
- The third way is to code and decode the scene using a set of the predefined object-types. Than the record of each object in the scene will consist of the object-type followed by a short list of a few corresponding parameters that are specific for this particular object-type. Just this idea is realized in the Shadow Analyzer Collection.
Here the application itself (together with its "dictionary" of predefined object-types) becomes a "language" of 3D communications, and the scene files become the "natural" 3D messages.
The scene files in our applications are amazingly small (only a few kilobytes). You can send them by email. Your recipients do not need to buy any product to read your 3D messages and answer on them by the edited variants of your scenes -- it is enough to install 3D Message Free.
The recipient can use also a Trial version of any product of the Shadow Analyzer Collection as a "viewer" to see your scenes. But Trial versions are inconvenient for a two-sides dialog because of the Trial version constraints. However certainly, any pair of full versions of our products is a suitable tool for normal two-sides 3D communications.
Really, the communications usually do not come to a sending of a single message. In most cases, the communicating persons need to support a dialog consisting of many messages. So the speed and the efficiency of the communication strongly depends on how it is easy to react and promptly reply on each next message. In this sense, 3D Message Free (as well as all full versions of our products) are very convenient due to the principle simplification and unification of the scene editing.
Download the fully functioning free 3D Messaging tool that introduces you into our Shadow Analyzer Collection:
, read also the Installation instruction.
Further improvements of the scene management and presentation
3D Message Free is really good, but the product 3D Message is better ...
The product 3D Message (in compare with the free software 3D Message Free) proposes next very powerful option of the scene management. In 3D Message, you can apply the textures to the object surfaces. The following screen shot shows how it looks in the practice.
Here you see the textures of different kinds that imitate bricks of the lighthouse walls, rocks and stones on the surfaces of islands, and waves on the water surface.
You see the application name "3D Message Free" in the title bar on the screen shot above. It means that 3D Message Free also can show the textures. But these textures were applied to the object surfaces by a "higher" application that edited this scene. To apply and manage the textures, you need any one of our products starting from 3D Message.
And here we start to deal with shadows on the object surfaces ...
3D Message Free and 3D Message show shadows only on the plane landscape background of the scenes. Our next product 3D Draw Shadows introduces shadows displayed also on the object surfaces. From the first look, it seems to be a very little step. But this "little" step requires a rather complex rendering technique, and what is more important, provides a substantial improvement of the scene appearance.
Please compare the following two pictures with "3D View" of the same scene "Tables under a tent in a summer cafe". First view of this scene is displayed without shadows. The "sh" button of the toolbar "Show" is unchecked, that is the shadows on objects are "switched off". Only the shadow casted by the tent on the flat green landscape is shown. The second view is displayed with shadows on object surfaces -- the shadows are "switched on" (the "sh" button is checked). The result speaks by itself: shadows improve the impression of the scene's depth dimension.
From shadow effects in 3D modeling to the shading analysis of solar projects ...