The "Object Supermarket" developed from an idea of Chris Hand's whereby the objects in the archive could be inspected visually by a user before deciding whether they actually want to download them.
"I can see it now... Thursday evening, and all the VR-SIGsters are wheeling their virtual shopping trolleys round, picking up some new objects for the weekend... :)"
For many of the supported formats, this facility is realised by simply pre-rendering each object to a GIF format image, which can then be downloaded by a user's web browser and viewed passively. However, the archive is also host to a growing collection of VRML files - these files can be inspected in full 3D (with a suitably configured browser); allowing the user to rotate, translate and scale the object in real-time. Further details on this facility are available directly from the VRML Supermarket page.
For those objects which are displayed as static images, most of rendering has been performed either with the native graphics package, or the simple PLGTOPPM renderer which I wrote for this purpose. The source code to this latter utility is also available at this site (in the utils/view directory). The program basically takes a REND386 PLG format object and renders it to a PPM or GIF file, at any desired orientation and scale. There are a number of converters into PLG format and thus we gain a platform independent viewing program for a number of object file formats.
For all of the Object Supermarkets, the user is presented with a list of filenames representing the objects. If the user clicks on these links, then an appropriate image of the object will be displayed (be it a GIF image or a VRML scene). If there is a [Download] link available, then clicking on this will download the actual object data itself (note that this is not applicable in the case of VRML files as they are the data themselves).
If you fancy a little spring-board off into the world of VRML, then you could always try Clicking Here
Click here to return to the Object Archive home page.