Adobe in 3D

Adobe Systems has moved quickly to implement support for 3D models in its popular Acrobat PDF publishing tool. Such support is a key element in Adobe's ambitions to become the publishing option of choice for engineering files.

The soon-to-be shipping Acrobat 7 will implement support for the U3D format, which is the proposed 3D standard backed by 3DIF (3D Industry Forum), a group formed by Intel. Acrobat users will be able to include U3D files in PDF documents.

In addition, Adobe acquired OKYZ S.A., a French company that develops 3D design collaboration software.

Rajeev Kak of the Adobe product marketing team says Adobe plans to integrate OKYZ's 3D technology into its Intelligent Document Platform products, including Acrobat Professional.

Kak expects that Adobe will adapt the OKYZ technology to enable its authoring applications to create U3D files from the graphics data stream, though the company is just starting to figure out the timetable.

OKYZ products will not be available to new customers, but Adobe will continue to support existing customers.

The OKYZ technology takes a unique approach to 3D model publishing. Instead of reading and translating geometry within a model, the OKYZ Raider3D product taps into the OpenGL dataflow between an application and the operating system. These captures preserve characteristics such as geometry, colors, textures, normals, and lights, and also retain the object's dimension and position within the coordinate system.

This hardware-based approach results in almost instanteous data capture and compatibility with any OpenGL application. Raider3D works on Windows, UNIX, and Macintosh OS X platforms.

OKYZ's products performed impressively in our December 2004 survey of 3D publishing options, particularly with its conversion speed. Ironically, slow performance is an issue that Adobe has worked to remedy in the latest release of its Acrobat lineup. This acquisition could help it sidestep that pitfall as it expands Acrobat's reach into the world of 3D collaboration.