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Just in time!
Only a whopping 6 years and one and an half months after its first mention during Keynode 13 and to the day exactly 5 years after the release of the The Humble Quad Bundle, you can finally hold it in your own hands. Not exactly as the full release we had planned but as a preview:
To our own surpise we couldn't finish all the things we had planned to release today. Most notably the "windows executable export" didn't make it. We know this is a bummer, but we want to get this right and it just needs some more time.
Apart from that we figured there is no more need at this point, to keep it to ourselves. It is definitely good enough for a preview, definitely good enough to gather some feedback to incorporate into the final 1.0 release for which we take some more time to finish our plans. So let's have a look at what we got:
Besides staying true to its nature of being a an easy to use and quick prototyping environment, vvvv is also a proper programming language with modern features, combining concepts of dataflow and object oriented programming:
While for now the number of libraries we ship is limited, the fact that you can essentially use any .NET libary directly mitigates this problem at least a bit. Besides there is already quite some user contributions available in the wip forum and here is what we ship:
To accommodate for the fact that from now on we essentially have 2 products, we added two main categories to the forum:
The existing question, feature, bug, general sections were moved into vvvv beta, and the vvvv gamma section got its own question, feature, bug and general sub-sections. Note that by default the search is constrained to the category you're currently viewing. When you're using vl in beta, still feel free to ask questions in the beta forum. We'll handle that.
We've previously announced the upcoming pricing model for vvvv gamma, which we're currently refining and we'll update you on changes to it soon.
Until further notice, the previews of vvvv gamma are free of charge but due to its preview-nature we don't recommend using it in commercial scenarios yet.
Here you go: vvvv gamma 2019.1 preview 411
If you get greeted by this friendly fella, when running setup, please click: "More info -> Run Anyway".
411: 12 06 19
406: 10 06 19
398: 05 06 19
380: 01 06 19
369: 27 05 19
344: 14 05 19
318: 09 05 19
303: 08 05 19
301: 07 05 19
287: 06 05 19
273: 02 05 19
252: 27 04 19
230: 24 04 19
222: 18 04 19
200: 15 04 19
191: 13 04 19
180: 11 04 19
177: 10 04 19
Apart from the promised and still missing parts, we're aware of quite some little glitches still and will update the download link above periodically. So please check back often and report your findings!
Not many will remember the times when vvvv's 3d rendering was based on Direct3D 8. Not important really, because at the same time we released vvvv 33beta1 in December 2002, Microsoft released Direct3D 9 with a lot of new features, so we knew what we had to do..
Luckily vvvv's DX9 implementation proved powerful enough to be quite useful for many years. Then it took Microsoft 5 years to release its successor DX10 which was only available on Windows Vista, which nobody wanted. Also graphic-card adoption took quite a while so we didn't really feel an urge to start working on it right away.
A year later in 2008 Microsoft released Windows 7 and with it DX11, which altogether looked more promising. But still a lack of adoption of supported hardware and Windows 7 didn't put too much pressure on us to implement it. Instead we thought it would be smarter to improve the plugin-interface for vvvv to make it easier for users to contribute to the library of nodes.
In parallel we had already secretly started work on our next big thing that would become VL, which we first announced at the keynode during NODE13. Since with VL we've mentioned from the beginning that we wanted it to eventually run across platforms, for us, implementing a new renderer based on the windows-only Direct3D api became less and less appealing.
What happened next couldn't have been more fortunate: besides many other major contributions, using the possibilities of vvvv's plugin-interface, power-user vux took it in his own hands to create a set of nodes for rendering with the features of DX11, which he released on vvvv's 10th birthday in December 2012. And the vvvvorld was a better place.
DX11 for vvvv is amazing, but innovation in the world of computer graphics started moving faster and faster. Despite the magic that DX11 brought, users demanded more and more bling, but all we were talking about was how VL would revolutionize visual-programming, which brought us all together in the first place.
With the cross-platform goal in mind, for years it seemed the only option was going for OpenGL instead of Direct3D as rendering API for VL. But all those years, following OpenGLs development and stories about bad support by Microsoft and Apple never got us excited enough to just go for it. Meanwhile a new player has appeared as a modern cross-platform graphics API, called Vulkan, but since it is still in its early stages and support for MacOS seems not official yet, again we were reluctant to jump on it.
All the years we knew there would be another option: Instead of using Direct3D, OpenGL or Vulkan directly, we could base a rendering library for VL on a game-engine API that would deal with different graphics APIs under the hood and would possibly have all 3 as back-ends that can be used on different platforms without us needing to worry about it.
While this sounds brilliant, it obviously has other potential drawbacks (out of scope for this post). But also the range of options for game-engines we could have used wasn't too overwhelming. Until recently. Enter Xenko.
We've had an eye on this engine for a while already but it being targeted at commercial game-studios would mean that every user of vl would also need to buy a license for it, so again we were hesitating and looked for alternatives.
But what just happened could again not have been more fortunate: The company behind Xenko, Silicon Studio, removed its commercial licensing and released it to the community under the MIT license, which is a very permissive open source license. This would allow us to base a renderer for VL on it without any licensing restrictions.
Initial tests look very promising. Within just a few days we were able to patch a little interactive scene and export the project as an executable so it could be distributed via the Steam store and run on a VR device.
Hence our plan is to investigate further in this direction and at the moment we see two interesting workflows between VL and Xenko:
For both scenarios what will be important, is a proper library design wrapping the original Xenko functionality into a comfortable set of nodes, similar to what we just did for Skia.
We'd usually not water your mouths before we are more sure about things. But with Xenko just having gone full open-source and looking to build a community of developers and users, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about this now and try to involve you from the beginning.
So if you're curious about Xenko's universe, just head over to its website and see what it has to offer. You can even download and play around with the editor and if you're familiar with C# create a little game with fancy graphics and assets in no time.
Next we'll demo what we've got so far to participants at LINK and start a discussion there. If you're not at LINK please still join the discussion with your thoughts using this thread. If all goes well we should also be able to share our proof of concept sometime after LINK.
So we hope you understand that at this stage it is too early to promise anything but at the moment we are confident to having found the right library for implementing a 3d rendering system for VL. Just as we were happy when we finally found Skia as the perfect library for VLs 2d rendering system.
We'll update you about developments as we progress...
To answer the often contemplated question of "Where the hell is this all going?" we first have to establish that vvvv is different things for different people. Let's have a look at some of these different perspectives:
￭ vvvv - a generative designers best friend
￭ vvvv - a data visualizers wonder weapon
￭ vvvv - an interaction designer's magic wand
￭ vvvv - the multiscreen solution
￭ vvvv - physical computing covered
￭ vvvv - a projectionmapper's dream
￭ vvvv - rapid prototyping on steroids
￭ vvvv - your procedural lighting desk
￭ vvvv - computervision for everyone
￭ vvvv - stage? show? control!
￭ vvvv - fish feeding for the lazy
￭ vvvv - L.A.S.E.R zzzz!1!!
That's all?, we hear you say...and you mumble on, but can I please has:
￭ vvvv - a tool for machines to learn
￭ vvvv - easy logic for gamers
￭ vvvv - visual scripting done right
￭ vvvv - klickklickklick your mobile app
￭ vvvv - the no-brainer IOT toolbox
￭ vvvv - the final webdev solution
￭ vvvv - an admin's batching buddy
￭ vvvv - robots dig this
￭ vvvv - no controller too micro
￭ vvvv - from sound to noise in one patch
￭ vvvv - any shaders of gray
￭ vvvv - scratch that: kids taken seriously
Well, vl, vl, we hear ya.. and that's exactly why at the heart of it all, we have always been, and will continue to work on:
￭ vvvv - a multipurpose toolkit
When we started working on VL, we never thought about creating anything different than vvvv. We had our issues with vvvv and wanted to solve those. But mostly we loved it and wanted to keep the good things we still enjoy about it. Essentially we set out to rewrite vvvv to make it better, nothing more.
So it is our great pleasure that we can finally annouce the impending release of what we've so far been referring to as "VL standalone":
For a start, vvvv gamma will focus on 3 main scenarios:
Frankly it will be gorgeous and above all shine through the following features:
Nope, don't think vs., we prefer to think ♥!
Here is how to read this: Over the past years we've been R&D'ing a next generation visual programming language that we dubbed: VL. And we still call it that: VL is a programming language, just like c#, that now happens to power two of our products:
While for vvvv beta, VL is just another language it supports, for vvvv gamma, VL is the core. As such, both beta and gamma will continue to profit as we progress with VL. We are well aware of the fact that gamma is not going to replace beta for everyone anytime soon. We're therefore commited to support both equally for the foreseeable future.
If you're interested in a few more details regarding how we'll be polishing vvvv gamma for its initial release, please head over to our roadmap.
We're still working this out and will update you on licensing early next year.
As we've previously reported from our lab, our initial efforts of integrating the Xenko 3d engine couldn't have gone much smoother. We have helped realize a complex multiuser VR project within just 4 months besides our research and now know that this is certainly the way for us to go forward. VL.Xenko will complete vvvv gamma to a fancypantsy interactive 3d authoring environment.
We're confident to be releasing an initial public version of VL.Xenko before 2019.Q4 and we have some ideas for a prerelease phase that we'll announce soon.
Thanks for using vvvv, thanks for your feedback on VL, thanks for your patience, thanks for the licenses you buy which makes this journey possible for all of us.
Have a nice holiday, get some rest, because 2019 will be the year of the vvvv desktop!
As you know, efforts have been going for the last year and a half into bringing a computer vision nodeset to VL.
The goal was to incorporate as many of the features covered by the world renowned ImagePack; contributed by Elliot Woods some years ago; while bringing in as many new features and improvements as we could.
Since then, listening to your needs and constant feedback, we have tried to polish every corner, fix every bug, document every odd scenario, add plenty of demos and specially we tried to give you a clean, consistent and easy to use nodeset.
At this point in time, we are happy to announce that the goal has been nearly met. Most of the features available in the ImagePack made it into VL.OpenCV with the exception of Structured Light, Feature Detection, StereoCalibrate and some of the Contour detection functionality. At the same time, newer features such as YOLO, Aruco marker detection and others have been brought in for you to play with.
So what's next? Even better documentation and loads of examples!
In the mean time, here is a summary of the new things that have been brought into the package in the last couple of months:
The new CvImage wrapper around OpenCV's Mat type allows for some optimizations, specially when dealing with non-changing images.
CvImage allows nodes to run only once when the image has changed, significantly reducing CPU usage
Since it is now possible to detect if an image has changed, CvImage is a perfect candidate to benefit from Cache regions.
Cache regions can now make proper usage of image inputs and outputs
The Renderer was re-built from the ground up to improve usability and to fix bugs and issues. Title, Render Mode and Show Info features were added. Renderer also remembers its bounds on document reload.
New Renderer implementation introduces Title, Renderer Mode and Show Info pins
Histogram analysis has been added to VL.OpenCV. A useful tool in many scenarios.
Histograms allow you to analyze pixel value tendencies per channel
Homography and reverse homography are now available in VL.OpenCV.
Homography (vvvv used only for point IOBox)
Two new Stereo Matchers were added, these allow you to create a depth map from a set of stereo images. For more see the StereoDepth demo patch in VL.OpenCV.
Depth map obtained from a pair of stereo images
Serialization support was added for CvImage and Mat types, allowing you to use CvImage as part of more complex data structures which get serialized with no effort. This can be a heavy operation so make sure to trigger it when needed only.
For a hands on demonstration check out the Serialization VL demo that ships with VL.OpenCV.
As part of this final effort to clean everything even further and make the nodeset consistent and properly organized, we needed to rename and move a few things around which as you can imagine means the introduction of breaking changes. We understand this is an annoying thing to cope with, but this was basically the reason why we chose to keep this pack in a pre-release state until we felt confident with its structure and approach.
In summary yes, you will get red nodes when you upgrade your VL.OpenCV projects to the latest version, but in most cases it should be as easy as to double-click and find the node in its new category.
An exception to this are the nodes that got renamed, which we list below:
Remember that in order to use VL.OpenCV you first need to manually install it as explained here. Also, until we move away from pre-release you need to use the latest alpha builds.
We hope you find good use for this library in your computer vision projects and as always, please test and report.
It's been a while again since we last dropped news about that next big thing we still call vvvv50 (50). So in order to get the hype slowly started here are some further notes...
First a quick recap of what we have with vvvv45 (45) so far: For the first ~6 years in existence vvvv was a rather monolithic thing. We sloppily called it "a multipurpose toolkit" and really only later found out ourselves that it was actually made of 4 parts:
Still very much monoltithic in that there was no way for the user to change any of those. Only when in 2008 we introduced the plugininterface vvvv became more modular in that it allowed users to create their own nodes, and boy they did (->addonpack, dx11-pack, cv.image-pack, ...).
So the library part was addressed but critizism remained:
According to the great Joel Spolsky the single worst mistake you can do when writing a software, is starting from scratch. So we did.
So here is our bold plan, this is what we're aiming at (longterm):
Now if that sounds familiar as in "so whats the big difference?" then exactly. Instead of saying it will be completely different we can also say that it will be very much the same only much better. People tend to prefer hearing either. We couldn't decide...
Anyway we're at a point with this where we have bits from all 4 parts implemented and can do simple demos. But mostly we're still focusing on the "visual programming language" which we consider the foundation of the pleasure we want you to have with 50.
The great thing about 45 is still that it is simple to learn. Say that again..!? No really, if you approach it the right way (arrogant!) it actually is. There is a huge library of nodes that is hard to grasp, true, but the things you have to know about the visual language vvvv are only a few:
Those are basically the language features of 45. Specifically the concept of Spreads is what makes vvvv stand out. It allows you to do simple things quickly but as things get more complex they are quite cumbersome to work with. We call this "low-level" while the goal of our new visual language is to be able to work more "high-level", ie. less thinking about concepts that make things easy to understand for the computer but more thinking in human terms.
So with 50 we're introducing a number of new language features that will make it easier for the user to create more complex programs. Here is the buzz of what we have so far:
Sounds scary? Naa... you'll see, all a breeze. Really the basics are not changing: You'll have nodes and pins to connect, a renderer, a quad, ... nothing new. If you're not using any of the new features you can still work kind of 45-style only then you'll not be seeing any of the productivity-increase you can gain from using them.
Specifically as you'll not need to use them all right away and you'll be using them without noticing anyway. But in order to talk about them we need to call them names.
In a forthcoming series of blogposts we'll show you how working with those features will feel like. If you already like what you've read so far and want to buy the cat in the sack we're always up for a /downloads|vvvv?.
Welcome back to the second sneak peek into our adventures with xenko. Together with MLF we've been busy patching the first project done entirely with vl and xenko: Ocean of Air. So far the combination works superbé, and you can experience that for yourself until the 20th of January, if you are in the London area. Alongside the project we explored the xenko code base and now that it's live, we can give you some more insights into our research.
In the last blog post we used predefined entities to set up a little scene graph. This time we will dig a little bit deeper.
Having primitive objects like Box, Sphere, Plane etc. is nice for casual patching and quickly visualizing something. But you will need more sophisticated objects for the final output of your project. What you want to do is designing your own objects that are specific to your use case.
Luckily, game engines have quite similar requirements and came up with a good solution, and they call it entity/component/system, short ECS, which is also the latest hype in Unity. Xenko has a good documentation page if you want to go into detail. But for now let's stay on topic and keep two things in mind:
We found two appealing ways to create custom entities that can also be combined with each other in any way that suits you. You can either patch them or design them in xenko's game studio using their prefab workflow. Here is a simple example for both cases:
Let's look inside the BoxEntity from the last blog post:
As you can see, it adds a BoxComponent to the entity on Create (white) and exposes parameters like Color, Transformation, Enabled etc. as input pins on Update (gray). This is more or less an arbitrary choice of how the BoxEntity is designed and it will probably change a bit before it becomes official. The patch is also an example of how vl's process nodes work nicely together with the entity component model. Each instance of an entity or a component can be represented by a process node and connected with each other in an understandable way.
In the patch we saw the EmptyEntity node, which is a general entity object that contains nothing more than a TransformComponent, hence the transform input pin. To make something useful with it, we add more components (e.g. model, material, audio, physics etc.) to it. There are many of them and you can combine them as it suits your use case. The big advantage here is, that the components are able to interact with each other via the common parent entity and that the scene graph system automatically processes them in an optimized way. This is where it gets interesting!
Let's say we want the box from the patch above to emit a sound from its current position. In order to do that we only have to add a SpatialAudioComponent to the same entity as the box component:
Since the SpatialAudioComponent and the BoxComponent have a common parent entity they will share the same transformation. Also, if an entity has child entities, the children get transformed by the parent. We could use that feature to add an AxisEntity to our custom entity:
Again, there is no need to connect the input transformation to the AxisEntity since it gets added as a child to the main entity and gets transformed automatically.
Here is what a little scene could look like:
Let's add a second one and let them rotate in the scene to hear the spatial audio effect. Aaaaaand action! (works best with headphones):
There is also a super easy way to design custom entities in xenko's game studio and use them in your patch. Suppose we have a 3d model with animation and skinning imported and edited in game studio. All we have to do now is to create a prefab from it and give it a meaningful name:
Learn more about xenko's prefab workflow here. Once we have that it's as simple as this to use it in your scene:
And finally we will start the walk animation:
Starting the animation is also patched in this case, but let's save that one for another post.
The entity component model of xenko works very well together with vl's process node feature. VL's automatic recompile and instant stateful hot reload allows to dynamically combine and configure entities and the scene graph in real-time while the application is running. You can combine different workflows with each other, simple primitives, custom patched entities or imported prefabs. There is no right or wrong, just build up the scene in a way that suits your way of thinking and the requirements of your project.
We still have only scratched the surface here, there is much more to come.
previously on VL: vl-progress-report-4
the vivid blog reader already knows the drill: everything stays the same if you liked it just the way it was.
Specify remote host (IP address), a nice port number, connect some data and bang the send to let your UDP packets travel over the network. Or open a server to receive bytes arriving on the specified port. The only difference to vvvv you might see is, that here you also get infos about the sender of the packets via the Remote Endpoint output (which is an IP Address and a port)
same same for the TCP nodes: The client will try to connect to a server. And once the connection is established, you can send and receive bytes.
The TCP Server awaits incoming connections to talk to. The subtle difference here is the Tuple input, where you would expect the data pin. No one ever requested it, but now you can decide which packet should be sent to which client by specifying IP address and port together with the message. In case you still want to send the same packet to all of your clients, just set the address to 0.0.0.0 and port 0
so why did it take so long, what's the goodies behind that?
Unlike the monolithic networking nodes in vvvv you can peek inside the VL ones. The goal was modularizing on a much lower level to be able to provide the very basics as nodes for the patcher:
"The Humble Quad Bundle" by #vvvv serves 4 computer classics implemented using the stilltocome #visualprogramming language codenamed #vvvv50
(hint: the above are exactly 140 characters)
The bundle comes with a reissue of the hit games Pong (1972), Frogger (1981), Worms (1995) and Asteroids (1979) all realized using the patternpending Quad render-engine. Something for the whole family.
we just had a look at the calender and noticed it's been already over a year since we told you about our next big thing. those who were there at the node13 keynode event already got a glimpse but since then we kept a low profile on that thing again. we're now slowly coming to a point where things start working and we feel we can start sharing some more infos about what is to expect.
we're currently in the process of testing patching convenience and the usability of certain language features and paradigms. all with vvvvs traditional focus on ease of use.
the games above are the result of our first round of applying the new language to some actual problemsolving. specifically we picked one very common problem for a start that is managing the life-time of objects. And the term "object" is key here. where in vvvv45 you need to manually synchronise several spreads representing the properties of your objects, in vvvv50 you can comfortably (on a high-level) think in actual objects that have data and operations that act on that data. so eg. when the spaceship shoots we can create a list of rockets that have a position and speed and and ask them to check if they hit one of the asteroids. and when they do, we can remove them from the list of rockets and tell the asteroid to explode...
here is a screenshot of the asteroids root patch. have a look around and see if you can read it. don't worry, it took us a while ourselves as well.
(click image for a sharper version)
now here is a little vvvv50 faq:
will it run on mac/linux?
probably. it is all written in pure c#/.net which runs cross-platform via mono. we haven't done extensive testing on this yet but are halfway optimistic.
will it run on devices?
probably, see above answer.
when will it be available?
rumours are there will be a node15...
can i alpha-test?
don't call us, we call you. we'll slowly start reaching out to testers when we feel it makes sense.
will it be faster than vvvv45?
will the first version be as amazing as vvv45 is now?
nope. but in a good way.
thats it for the first treat. expect more posts introducing some of the new features in detail in the coming months. but now next up is the release of beta32 scheduled for late april.
vvvv has finally arrived in the age of 64bit computing. to you this means you can finally use all of your PCs memory. to us it means we have to maintain two builds now. but nevermind. service is our success.
so basically "out of memory" messages should be out of our memories (cheese us!) soon and content/texture heavy vvvv-applications ahoi. in theory due to the compilers use of SSE2 instructions things should be generally faster as well..but we already noticed this doesn't seem the case just yet. generally.
now available from: alpha builds
and of course every beauty has its beast. so here is a list of a couple of things that are not yet (probably never will be) working in the 64bit builds:
most of the addons already work with the 64bit build. below is a listing of those which still need some treatment. chances are good that we'll get most of them to run..given some time.
when you want to debug 64bit stuff use:
in the bash to get the according executables and in the Addonpack.sln set the Configuration to x64.
Skia is a modern and fast 2d rendering library. As usual, we stand upon the shoulders of giants when making this functionality available to you: the core Skia technology and the .Net binding "SkiaSharp". The VL.Skia package aims to make all of this functionality available within VL in an easy-to-use high-level node set.
You now can have the first glimpse on it. From the start, it comes with a nice stack of tutorials and example patches. This package is done for vvvvbeta37.
Here is a rough overview of what the key concepts are:
Just like known from vvvv the main idea is that layers can be grouped and can be connected to a renderer to draw them. Most Layers come with a Bounds input OR Position and Size and Anchor.
We offer different renderers:
Every layer comes with a Paint input. It describes how to draw the layer. This is very comparable to the render states in DX9/DX11.
You can stack the Paint-modifying nodes. Nodes like SetColor would take everything from the incoming paint and only adjust the color.
Shaders, Filters, and PathEffects are all properties of Paint. 1000 words wouldn't be enough to describe what you can do with them. You probably just need to play with them a bit.
Text nodes are also just Layers. You can think of them as text boxes.
Within that rectangular region you now can adjust horizontal and vertical alignment. This is done via properties of Paint. The FontAndParagraph node allows to conveniently adjust several text related paint properties in one go.
You can visualize the text box with the Show Helpers pin of FontAndParagraph.
(See the examples\3_Text for how to do word wrapping etc.)
Layers can be transformed. This allows you to patch a Camera. You would then connect your scene to the Camera and the camera to the renderer.
Transforms are not that important as in 3D rendering frameworks as all Layers already can be placed.
Scaling a Layer influences the stroke width. If this is unwanted specify the Size on the layer itself and not via transform node.
We designed the library in a way that it works for different scenarios. Sometimes you would like to think in a normalized space, like known from DX9/DX11. In other scenarios, you want to think pixel- or device-independent-pixel-based.
Layers in Skia can be interactive. The main idea here is: "What you see is what you want to interact with". So if the layer is interactive, connecting it to the renderer in one way or the other means that it will be drawn AND that you can interact with it. (See examples\5_Interaction)
This part is under construction still.
In order to use this library with VL, you have to install the NuGet that is available via nuget.org. For information on how to use NuGets with VL, see Managing NuGets in the VL documentation. In short, navigate via document menu to Dependencies -> Manage NuGets -> Commandline and then type:
As long as we don't have an example browser here is how to get them via windows explorer:
Drag & drop an example patch onto vvvv or VL. For closing the example use the X on the renderer or hit Ctrl-F4 on the VL patch.
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