Interview: Nicole Yankelovich, Sun's Project Wonderland Lead

Project Wonderland is a 100% Java and open source toolkit for creating collaborative 3D virtual worlds. Within those worlds, users can communicate with high-fidelity, immersive audio, share live desktop applications and documents and conduct real business. Wonderland is completely extensible; developers and graphic artists can extend its functionality to create entire new worlds and new features in existing worlds.

Nicole Yankelovich is the Project Wonderland Lead at Sun Microsystems Laboratories. She explains us what is Project Wonderland and what interesting things it has to offer for developers and users.

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Photo by cogdog

- Is Wonderland written 100% in Java?

-Yes. The Project Wonderland server, client, and voice bridge are all 100% Java.

- What features does Wonderland have that are related to social virtual worlds?

Wonderland is a toolkit for building virtual worlds, so you could build a social virtual world using the toolkit.

- And to gaming, ecomerce, others...?

- Same answer. You can create any sort of virtual world using the toolkit. Wonderland is completely extensible. With our upcoming v0.5 release, developers can write extensions to Wonderland in the form of modules. These can extend either the client, the server, or both. In addition, modules are a mechanism for integrating with external systems or data sources. In the ecommerce example, a developer could write a module that integrates a micro-payment system with Wonderland. You can learn more about building Wonderland modules here:
Developer releases of Wonderland v0.5 are currently available. While this version is still a work in progress, enough of the system is in place for developers to begin creating new modules.

- How many people work in the building of Wonderland?

- There is a small group of around 8 developers in Sun Labs who do most of the core development work and then many people in the open source community who are writing modules.

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Photo by m4rlonj

- What is X3D used for inside Wonderland?

X3D is used as the format for importing models into Wonderland v0.4. In v0.5, we have switched to Collada and will no longer be supporting X3D.

- Does Wonderland collaborate with other Java projects?

- Yes. Wonderland is based on a number of open source projects. Project Darkstar provides the communications and persistence infrastructure, jVoiceBridge provides all the audio support and telephony integration,  Java Monkey Engine, combined with our new extension for multi-threading, MTGame, make up the graphics framework, and Glassfish is used for web integration. In addition, we take advantage of many other open source projects such as JAXB, Jersey, Hudson, JOGL, and webdavclient4j.

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Photo by m4rlonj

- Can Wonderland be used for commercial use or for personal use? What are the use limitations?

- Yes, Wonderland can be used for both commercial and personal use. It is licensed under a GPL license. The license for v0.5 is more flexible for than the one for the v0.4 release. In the newer version, developers can apply either a commercial or an open source license to their modules, which allows them to keep modules propriety, if so desired. Any changes to the core of the system need to be contributed back to the open source community if the developer wishes to distribute the software. We expect, however, that most module developers will not need to make core changes, and if they do, those changes are likely to be small. You can learn more about Wonderland licensing from our licensing FAQ:

- What are the future plans for Wonderland?

- In the short term, we will continue to do approximately monthly developer releases of Wonderland v0.5. We hope to have something suitable for end users in the summer timeframe. After that, we will continue to work on core features that enhance the developer experience, making it easier to build collaborative 2D and 3D applications and enabling a variety of deployment options, including deploying the system on a grid or cloud infrastructure.

-Jordi R. Cardona-

© by Jordi R. Cardona. Link to this post without copying the text.

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