[Edu-sig] Jython Poll: Java3D apps -- one click works or not?

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Jun 3 23:50:16 CEST 2006

I'm wondering how suitable Jython would be right now for easy-to-install 
educational 3D apps in Python (e.g. PySqueak/PataPata, but could just as 
well be any Python 3D app that runs under Jython).

So, I would be curious, for those who care to try it, what percentage of 
people on the edusig list who go to this Java 3D site,
and click on one of the web start links, will actually see a 3D 
application window open up on their system and run properly without much 

This is the simplest test (a rotating cube) so you could just click here:
One click and you are done (in theory, if your machine has a JVM installed 
and web start enabled).

On my Debian GNU/Linux system, the first was a 4.6 MB download, after 
accepting a couple of Verisign certificate from Sun for trusted code. Then 
it just worked. After that, the other apps did not require much of a 
download, and all just worked. However, I've done lots in the past related 
to Jython and Java (including enabling web start for some tests), so my 
system certainly is far from being a stock one.

I also just tested it on an iBook G4 and it ran. Though I had to do an 
extra click for accepting a certificate, plus say "no" to whether I wanted 
a desktop icon. But I'd consider that a "one click" success. :-)

However, I then tried it under another Debian machine and while everything 
loaded, the window did not display. And I also tried it on that machine 
under VMWare running Windows 2000, and while a window came up, it was 
empty. That machine probably does not have proper 3D drivers configured 
for X Windows, but in any case, it fails the one click test (twice, sadly).

So far, we have:
Debian/Gnome -- Yes
Mac OS X -- Yes
Debian/KDE -- No; No window
VMWare Windows 2000 under Debian -- No; Empty window.

So, I'm running 50% here for four tries. :-) The biggest determinant for 
Debian GNU/Linux is probably whether I have already tried to get 3D 
running on the machine.

I'm not so much interested right now in who could in theory or practice 
make these 3D programs run on their machines with effort (though reports 
related to that are appreciated, of course). I kind of expect, if people 
are willing to put in some work on any recent computer and OS (minutes to 
hours), these programs should run (although other things might get broken 
in the process, if twiddling with any OS's configuration. :-)

What I am trying to get at here, as a real world data point, is how many 
educators (or parents) on this list can just click and get Java3D working 
at home or in a school computer lab (ignoring the 5MB download, I'm 
assuming we almost have broadband here?)

Even though these are just plain Java applications (using the Java3D 
library), if there is any significant level of responses of "One clicked 
worked for me" with few negatives then I would have to rate Jython as a 
strong candidate for doing 3D with Python with minimal install problems, 
since if you can run these Java 3D apps, then you should pretty much just 
as easily be able to run a Jython 3D app. Obviously, this isn't a 
statistically valid experiment (e.g. only adventurous types may try it), 
but it is the best I can do easily.

If you try it, please mention what OS you tried it on too (Mac OS X, Win 
2000, Debian GNU/Linux, etc.). Negative reports very much wanted too, so 
if you try and it fails, please let us know. Having webstart disabled 
maybe should count as a negative report, although I'd be curious the app 
it did run after enabling and how hard the issue was to resolve.

--Paul Fernhout

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