Dozens of authoring packages exist that allow you to create 3D models on the desktop, but there are only very few to date that allow us to view these AEC models in a browser. In the past year, we have experimented with many of them but always ran into limitations – we really just wanted a customizable viewer for all sorts of applications. So we thought – wouldn’t it be fun to create just that – a free, open-source generic viewer for the AEC industry.
Based on these needs, Benjamin Howes from the CORE studio suggested vA3C, short for viewer for AEC using Three.JS, as a project on the event’s hackerleague page. He initially envisioned to create solid JSON exporters for Dynamo and Grasshopper, and an easy-to-use, fully customizable web interface to view these JSON files in 3D/ 4D in a browser. It quickly gained traction and, once the hackathon started we had a team of twelve! So we had the manpower to create JSON-export plugins for sketchup, 3DSMax, Revit and Grasshopper, and thus really manifest this proof of concept.. And we also had plenty of talent in our team to create a nice front end that allows you to load various JSON files and visualize the models with a variety of view properties. Moreover, the viewer is capable of displaying attributes attached to the geometry, such as BIM data coming out of a Revit model.
The project is now live and active at va3c.github.io. And, from the start, our intent was to open-source it and host the code on GitHub, so that more people will be able to make use of it and build solutions tailored to their needs.
For more impressions about the team-working experience, and the use of GitHub, and running hackathons in general, check out my earlier blog post.