a notice

Challenging the Paradigm With Rooms

The latest versions of Berylium include a new folder flavor called rooms. You can see some pretty prime examples of rooms at http://hiphopclown.org/, where they are being developed.

The groundbreaking concept is this: what if you rendered objects in a folder as layers, and allowed them to be positioned via javascript drag-n-drop? And then allowed them to be shown or hidden over time? Rooms give the editor complete control over how objects are positioned on the webpage in both space and time.

Right now the room code is geared toward the creation of dramatic scenes, consisting of a background "stage" (the room folder), characters (references to documents in a castfolder), props (references to other documents). The characters and props can be added, removed, or moved around from frame to frame within a scene. Characters can be given dialog that displays in speech balloons.

When a viewer looks at a scene, all of the frames load in at the same time, and a wee bit of javascript hides all but the first frame. When they click next, the first frame is hidden and the next frame is made visible. And so on. It works really well, except that I've got issues with the PHP getimagesize() function taking 3/10ths of a second per call on FreeBSD, grrrr. But at least all of the rendering time is up front, and not between frames in the scene.

In the future, this or similar code will handle the integration of a backend MOO database with a Berylium site under the Moob project. That's a bit of a flight of fancy at the moment, but it's what I'm shooting for. In the meantime, rooms are a really fun way to add a virtual experience to a site. In a closer timeframe, I want to reuse the positioning technology and the stuff I'm learning about layers (s, really) to make creative page layout possible.

Warning: rooms are fun to play with, but they will only render properly in modern browsers-- that is Mozilla, Netscape 6+, IE 5+, maybe Opera but I haven't looked yet. Aunt Mabel with her WebTV is probably not going to be able to join in the fun, nor is Uncle "Lynx-usin'" Larry. It's easy to write them off, of course, but I have no idea what a blind person hears when they visit Hip Hop Clown. I think the results are less than pretty.

By Chris Snyder on January 4, 2003 at 8:06pm

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