Ok people are starting to ask what is happening with World Wind, 1.5 was supposed to be released soon and 1.4 should already have been out, well things as always have not gone according to plan, so here is what I know.
The Java team have committed some code to SVN but are struggling, which is causing lots of snickering from the OS developers because they all said it wouldn’t go smoothly. This makes them sound a bit childish which isn’t fair, they have actually offered to help out, but currently the NASA Java team would like to keep development within their group until they consider it stable enough for the OS team to get involved. NASA are still extremely committed to WWJava and after 1.4 is out Chris Maxwell will be spending most of his time working on it, until a stable 1.0 can be released, then hopefully he will be able to return to the .NET version.
A branch of 1.4 has been made in SVN ready for a beta release, we are just fixing up a few things and then a beta will be released, probably next week but possibly sooner. Chris is currently getting as much of the 1.4 code into 1.3.6 as possible, as I mentioned in a previous post 1.3.6 will be .NET 1.1 and 1.4 will be .NET 2.0, so they will likely not be identical. I’ll list some new features now so you all know what to expect, this is not a comprehensive list it just shows the most visible changes, there are also more ‘behind the scenes’ changes which will make add-on/plug-in developers drool, such as the 3Dmodel and 3Dpolygon code.
The time automatically sychronizes with your windows clock at startup, so you have a view of the Earth as it would be seen from space, with a light and dark side. The time control widget has six buttons, close, play, pause, speed up, speed down and a date/time selection button so you can see what the sun position would be for a specific date (this may be especially useful for archaeologists, depending on its accuracy).
Atmospheric scattering and sun shading
These are pretty self explanatory, they give you realistic shading, and a cool looking atmosphere. The top screenshot shows the default mode, which uses graphics card acceleration, the bottom screenshot purely uses your CPU, it is more accurate but far slower. Note these screenshots don’t really do the effects justice, force AA and high quality mode on your graphics card and it will look a lot better.
3D compass and scalebar
The 3D compass widget is an improved version of the original World Wind compass, it takes a bit of getting used to, it’s not as pretty as the old one but simple is actually better in this case, it also shows your heading in degrees in the center. The scalebar widget is a useful addition we have all wanted for quite some time, the units can be set as English or metric, it is accurate for the center of the screen only, due to the Earth not being flat, but the closer you zoom in the less accuracy is lost.
Integrated web browser
The integrated webbrowser lets you view websites within World Wind, it can be a horizontal or vertical frame, and the code is also used for kml popups. Although the usefulness of an integrated browser may not be obvious at first it could be useful, you could for example zoom in to a location without high res imagery and then open google maps or a virtual earth birds eye view to see imagery for that area.
The install size should be much smaller as placenames are now served via WFS and boundaries by WMS, don’t worry all data is cached so it will only eat bandwidth when you initially visit an area. This is great news as most people are never going to need to view all of the millions of placenames currently included in the installer, and it also makes it easier for NASA to update incorrect placenames and boundaries.