Building our 3D web with OurBricks

For years I have been wanting to see 3D on the web become ubiquitous and with Katalabs' OurBricks, I am closer than ever to seeing that dream come true.

Leveraging the power of WebGL and its supported browsers, OurBricks allows users to examine a full 3D version of any model uploaded to the site with no need for any plug-in. Visitors to the site can download content, embed it in any webpage as easy as embedding a Youtube video, or drop it into Katalabs' multi-user 3D sandbox for a 'virtual world' type experience.

OurBricks seems the ideal solution for 3D artist that want to share their creations. Countless times I have seen on other sites where artists can share their 3D model, in the form of a 2D image, for peer review and "Can you render this model from a different angle," appears somewhere in the comments section. Now that problem is solved!

The OurBricks platform supports the following 3D file formats: COLLADA, OBJ, FBX, DXF, and KMZ. There is an option that allows a user to upload a model for viewing or embedding while restricting the ability to download so this is a nice solution for those wanting to sell their models also. Thanks to @jterrace for pointing this out to me.

Recently OurBricks had a design competition called Modern Life. A submission by Simen Stroek called A Slice of Modern Life took the prize. Check out the winning scene below.

How cool is this?!

Last Wednesday Katalabs announced the OurBricks API. "Our ultimate goal with OurBricks is to connect people who need great 3D content with those who can create it. We are working very hard to take the pain out of 3D pipelines. Think of how it “just works” when you shoot a video on your phone and upload it to YouTube. What if 3D content could move from point A to point B just as easily?

This is where an API comes in, enabling software to easily communicate with other software and allowing us to make 3D content simpler to share. Today I want to introduce the API we've been working on. In this early version we enable interaction with OurBricks in a few different ways:

Import - Search through our growing database of 3D content or list recent uploads. When you find something you like, simply import it at the click of a button. After it downloads, the content appears and you are one big step closer to having built that killer application.
Upload - Imagine sharing 3D content on the web without leaving your 3D application. Instead of shipping large source files back and forth or resorting to a static, rendered image, you can give an interactive experience to your recipients.

We have built an plugin for Blender that allows you to import and export from OurBricks and also have example scripts for uploading. We would love to see this open-source sample code used as a template for developers to start using the API. A great place to start is the documentation for our API. If you want to talk, we have set up an open developers list, so please come join us there and let’s figure out how to make 3D content much nicer to share." - Katalabs' official release

Here is an example by users of the Open Wonderland platform that uses the OurBricks API to import models directly into an Open Wonderland scene graph.

I fully endorse OurBricks and hope more take advantage of this amazing platform and its API. I can totally see how this platform could be a complimentary service to tools like Unity3D and sites like TurboSquid or Ponoko. Well done Katalabs team. I am excited to see what comes next and thanks for giving us better bricks to build our 3D web!


Jonathan Agoot said…
awesome web3d engine! it's verrrrry smooth and no compatibility issues with Chrome. FF needs to have WebGL enabled (it's good that they put directions on how to turn it on). IE9 is a no go, as always.

Thanks for sharing Damon!
(Disclaimer: I work on OurBricks)

Thank you for a great writeup Damon!

Jonathan: FF have had WebGL flipped on by default from version 4 and it works. It's also there in the new Safari 5.1 but you have to enable it via the developer menu. What we are all really waiting on though is pickup on the mobile platforms where the hardware these days is very capable. I understand that FF on Android has it but I have not been able to test it yet.

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