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Section 4: Collaborative Virtual Environments#

4.6 Blaxxun#

4.6.1 What is Blaxxun?

The Blaxxun Platform is a modular software system that can be used to create virtual worlds based on VRML97. It is a browser which can be accessed via HTML, Java or a plug-in and runs on Linux, SGI, Sun and Windows NT platforms. The Blaxxun Platform offers users communication via instant messaging, message boards, calendars, surveys, voting and SMS alerts. The system allows collaboration with shared applications incorporating audio, video and text-to-speech with 3-D visualisations of products and environments. Blaxxun also provides facilities for those who create and administer worlds, for example the management of user profiles, roles, access rights and user accounts. Worlds can incorporate features to attract users such as clubs, meeting places and personal home pages.

4.6.2 Installation

Users need to accept the licence agreement and install the BlaxxunContact plug-in and can choose between an automatic or a manual installation. The automatic installation routine checks the user's hardware and software and selects the appropriate version of BlaaxunContact.

Visitors navigate in worlds using their mouse or keyboard or can take a quick tour (if one has been provided by the developer). They have the option of selecting an avatar from a library and, in some worlds, can use an avatar that they designed themselves. Visitors can contact each other by selecting a person from the people panel and 'beaming' to them. They can then chat or choose to ignore each other.

4.6.3 Developing applications

Blaxxun provides a full application programming interface (commercial users require a special licence). Developers can create a Blaxxun community using the API by first designing a world in VRML 97 and then using a template to set up a web-page and link this to a series of files which provide the multi-user functionality. The world is then established as a multi-user meeting point. Developers can customise this meeting point by designing their own avatars and automated agents to greet visitors or by creating shared events advertised to all visitors.

Developers of more complex applications may choose to install their own Blaxxun community server.

Blaxxun Contact supports the full VRML 97 specification and also incorporates Java code. The Blaxxun source code is available through the Web3D consortium.

4.6.4 Finding out more

BlaxxunContact download
Blaaxun Developer Guide
Web3D Blaxxun Source Code
CyberAxis case study
Building Babel II case study

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