Why use Basic?

The last important modifications of this page were made on the 22nd of May, 1997.
Minor changes were made on the 18th of July.

Why should you use Basic to produce 3D files? The best reason I can give you for the present time is the cathedral you can see in the Home Page: I am an amateur, and all the same I could do it with Basic. If you know any amateur that can do such a complex thing with anything, just tell me (give me his URL, please do!), but so far I never met one on the Net... and I have been looking, you can trust me.

If you don't think that reason is good enough, I can tell you more. You should use Basic to produce 3D files in order to:

  • make accurate files
  • make easy-to-modify files
  • do things that would be too hard manually
  • adapt your files to the power of your computer or browser
  • be free from the tyranny of any software
  • work with other fans

  • OK, but why Basic and not Pascal, or C++, or Java?
  • Why not work directly in VRML?

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    Make accurate files

    Green chair

    Look at that chair (196 vertices, 264 faces, 2224 bytes in Gzip compressed VRML). It is not a complex object, is it? Well, just try to make it manually. Don't forget the horizontal bar between the legs, and don't forget that it is supposed to come exactly where the legs cross. Look at the pieces of wood, and consider that the empty space between them is supposed to be always the same, exactly. Don't forget that the metal legs are supposed to touch the wood, not to eat it, not to be near from it. Just try to do it manually. It is not impossible at all, but you'll certainly have to work many hours to do such an accurate thing. If you had calculated the vertices with some programming language, it would have been work, too... but it would have been a lot quicker.

    Click here to see the Qbasic listing that produces this object.


    Make easy-to-modify files

    And now your little sister comes, and says: "It's too thin! It will break down immediately when someone sits down! And you made six horizontal bars, there are only five, you can check in the garden if you don't believe me! And I hate that green, why don't you put some blue?" Don't you want to kill her, especially as you know she is right? Well, if you did that chair manually, then you'll have to modify it manually. That means... start from scratch once again. On the countrary, if your chair was produced by a listing, you'll only have to modify three or four lines here and there, and will get all the different chairs that you want.

    Three different chairs


    Do things that would be too hard manually

    Okay, now you have your chair, and you want to put up a complete scene with lots of chairs put in circles, with a certain space between each chair and the ones on its sides, another space between two ranks of chairs, and four paths to cross the circles of chairs, the whole thing being put in a square. How long will it take you to do that manually? Two weeks or so, am I wrong? I did that in Basic in half an hour, and I was really slow.

    The chairs in wireframe

    You can click here if you want to see that in VRML,
    but I do not recommend it if you have less than 16 Mb of RAM.

    The renderized chairs


    Adapt your files to the power of your computer or browser

    Woo, this was a lot of work, wasn't it? Now, let's render the whole thing with bright lights and shadows. 3DNightmareŽ, your modeling software, is excellent, you only have to say where the camera is, towards what direction it is looking, from what direction comes the light, and click OK. And wait one minute. Or two. Or ten. Or half an hour. Or more. Meanwhile, you can hear that funny little noise that comes from your hard disk, you know? the one that sounds like sausages in boiling oil, and means "Why don't you buy 720 megabytes of RAM?" Be patient, go and have a cup of coffee. Don't drop your coffee on the keyboard when the screen becomes black, your hard disk crashes down and you realize that the scene is much too complex for your little personal computer.

    So you finally render the scene with less chairs and no shadows... and realize that, anyway, the wood bars of the chairs are too small to be seen with such a wide angle. What do you do? Do you manually make other chairs with less bars - and that means you'll have to spend two more weeks to put them in the correct place once again? Do you commit suicide? Or do you just change three or four lines in your program, and produce a simpler scene you'll be able to render easily?


    Be free from the tyranny of any software

    That was a good experience, and you realize that 3DNightmareŽ is not the wonder you hoped it would be when you did an illegal copy of it in your cousin's office. Well, there's a simple solution: tell your cousin to tell his boss to spend thousands of dollars to buy a better software... and erase all the files you've made in months with 3DNightmareŽ, because there is no way to translate them to any other format.

    To be honest, it is not impossible to translate them. All the 3D modeling softwares use the same logic: they define the coordinates of vertices, and reference them to draw faces. Believe it or not, nearly all of them save that information in an ASCII format anyone can read with any word-processing software. That's why it is rather easy to translate more-or-less-standard format, such as 3DStudio ASC, AutoCAD DXF, or VRML. With 3DNightmareŽ, it would probably be possible, too... but you'd have to write the translation program by yourself. And if you can write that program, why didn't you make your files with programs, too? It would have been much easier to translate them to 3DStudio ASC, and to AutoCAD DXF, and to VRML, and to any other ASCII format (including the future ones!).


    Work with other fans

    By the way, if you learn how to translate 3D files, you will not need to create such simple objects as chairs: you can find a lot on the Web, copy them, translate them and use them in your own scenes. For instance, come back from time to time to this Web page: I'll put some of the VR Cocha creations there. For free. Just for fun. And I'm not a hero: we are a lot to do that on the Web. You can see that by yourself if you ask Mr. Yahoo to talk about VRML, or have a look at the Hot List of this site.

    I hope that you will not only copy the other's creations. I hope that you will do yours, and put them on the Web, too. For the present time, VR Cocha is a Bolivian club, but I would be delighted to have some Internet pals as members. If they are gifted enough to work on very complex projects: buildings; neighbourhoods; towns; planets. Email me if you're interested... and know something about geometry, and know how to write Basic programs.


    OK, but why should I program in Basic and not in Pascal, or C++, or Java?

    Some people say that to do good music, you need a Stradivarius violin; others say you need a Steinway piano; others say you need a Yamaha organ. I think you just need talent. And in computation, it's the same. You don't need to know neither Basic nor Pascal nor Java nor any particular language; you need talent. If you know any other programming language, do use it! All the same, the VR Cocha club uses Basic, and if you use Basic too, we will be able to exchange listings. If you use another language, or if you are patient enough to do everything manually, then we'll just be able to exchange data. But that is interesting already.

    Basic is certainly not the best language ever, but maybe I can mention something in favour of it: it's given for free with every new IBM-PC compatible computer. And that is good for a very poor non-profit computation club as VR Cocha, especially as this club is located in Bolivia.


    Why not work directly in VRML?

    VRML is a very young language, and the tools that allow to use it are rather... basic at the present time (in the comp.lang.vrml newsgroup, many people pretend the best tool you can use nowadays is... the Windows notepad!). So, for the present time, I prefer to use a well-known and well-documented language, such as Basic. But VRML is worth to be studied, no doubt about it. I use it myself from time to time (to publish the VR Cocha creations, for instance), and maybe if I get to know it better, I'll give up Basic. Some day. But now, it's much too early in my humble opinion.

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