The amazing adventures of Doug Hughes

I’m just throwing that question out there. Please don’t expect to find the answer to this or really any quandary from reading one of my blog posts.
Up until this past weekend I hadn’t really played around with the Papervision open source 3d engine in over a year. I remember Papervision being the new hotness back them. Seems like every other blog post was some sort of cool new 3D texturing globe component or amazing 3D navigation using it. Then Flash 10 came out with it’s own somewhat native 3D functionality and the Papervision buzz wore off.

So what became of this popular 3D engine?

Well, from what I can gather, Papervision is continuing to be used on various 3D projects across a wide variety of Flash application online. Check out the New York Times 3D rendering of the 15th hole at the US Open Golf Tournament here. Or check out the radical 3D navigation in this UFC promotional site here.

So why is it still being used, isn’t it native in Flash 10?

  1. Flash 10’s 3D capabilities fall short of the expectations for your client’s particular project. The new 3D capabilities of the Flash 10 are more of a distortion of a bitmap with perspective and not truly a 3D engine. In fact the developers of Papervision are activily looking at how to better take advantage of the new player to speed up and increase the performance of their 3D engine.
  2. The penetration numbers for Flash 10 aren’t there yet. While the Flash browser plug in is pretty ubiquitous among internet-enabled desktops, the latest version with 3D support is only being reported on about 87% of devices compared with Flash 9 at 99%.

Is the project still evolving?

Papervision’s blog seems to be pretty active and the source code continues to be actively updated. However the actual project download (swc or zip) is dated at March of 0, there hasn’t been an issue reported in a while and the project wiki hasn’t been updated for about half of a year. So it would appear that some of the hype has at least slowed.

My $0.02?

I’m a fan of using some subtle 3D techniques to enhance an application. Flash player 10 provides me with enough resources to create some interesting transitions and navigation elements without the overhead of adding an additional truly 3D engine. And as for penetration, that would differ from client to client. So maybe Flash player 10’s 3D hacks are going to cover me for 90% of my needs. That being said, I’d still turn to Papervision for any project that actually had any involved 3D elements. I’m thinking of applications that would take advantage of spacial dimensions such as a cargo loading application or maybe a 3D product design application like a build your own wine bottle website.

What about you guys? Where do you draw the line? Do you think Flash 10 killed the Papervision 3D engine or maybe it’s momentum?

Comments on: "Has Flash Player 10 killed Papervision 3D?" (11)

  1. I definitely dont’ think FP10 killed off PV3D. Look at all the augmented reality stuff popping up in Flash.. That’s all papervision. But the reality is that Papervision is an open source project being maintained by people in their free time. When those people get busy, process slacks off.

    However, I also think the lack of GPU acceleration for 3d is hampering Papervision and 3d in Flash in general. There is only so much you can do before performance grinds to a halt. I think “IF” flash player 11 brings GPU acceleration for 3d, you’ll see a whole new push for 3d in Flash.


  2. Away3D killed Papervision3D. Their Flash 3D engine is more active and pushing Flash 3D farther than Flash 10 and Papervision3D combined. see their site :


  3. Sean Christmann said:

    The Flash player team will never build “frameworks” into the player, flash player 10, 11, 12 won’t kill papervision, they’ll only make them stronger by giving accelerated methods to complex features. There will always be a need for a 3rd party engine to drive a 3d scenegraph in Flash, whether by papervision, away3d, or anyone else.


  4. this is a dumb article because you just compare some planes, before writing this mumbo, build out a full character in the engines and flash 10..then compare


  5. Peter Carabeo-Nieva said:

    Alternativa3D is a pretty amazing, if not the best, flash 3D engine out there.


  6. John Doe said:

    Flash 10 did not kill papervision.

    However, as soon as browsers have native 3d canvas, there won’t be a need for 3d in flash – it’ll all be straight Javascript.
    And it’ll be native 3d, so much faster.

    Firefox is moving towards this with Canvas3D going into the trunk, not sure where IE is with it.


  7. I agree with mr John Doe. Flash has no business doing ‘3D’. It’s just not built that way.

    Javascript has a GPU engine already, Google has their 3D implementation, and there’s unity 3D

    Flash is meant for 2D, and was built that way.


  8. If you really did any research you would have seen that Away3D & PaperVision3D frameworks are building on Flash 10’s features. Flash10 only has basic 3D and cannot do many of the things that come with the popular 3D engines like Collada import, Shading, etc….


  9. John Doe and Peter ,
    Flash GPU support will arrive at some point.
    Flash DOES have a business doing 3d. Why? Because cross browser compatibility still to this day remains a clusterf#$k..
    Simple things can easily become a nightmare when you have to support multiple browsers, OS, etc…`You can’t deny that. This is why many talented AS developers stay away from traditional web design and dev. This is what makes Flash great.


  10. bakedbeing said:

    “I agree with mr John Doe. Flash has no business doing ‘3D’. It’s just not built that way.
    Flash is meant for 2D, and was built that way.”

    That’s what they said about the SNES, and so they built the FX engine into a chip in cartridge and Star Fox, Stunt Race were killer games.

    I think there’s room for all manner of innovation if you’re creative and discerning in employing it.


  11. Flash has no business doing 3D? huh .. Check to see what you can do with Papervision3D. These are fully immersive navigable shopping and gallery environments.


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