I am a high school student going to UC Berkeley next year for computer science. I am just now learning Java ... but I'm very interested in the project.
I am interested in VRML, Java3D, the ExperimentalGUIGroup. I have experience with VRML, and hope to be able to assist with it's integration into JOS's ExperimentalGUI. I have many ideas for the GUI. I have sketched a couple of possible metaphors for use with the GUI. The interface should be either VRML or Java3D, so that any user may be able to use it however he/she wishes.
One of the major benefits of a virtual reality interface is its potential for extremely powerful multitasking operations. This extends the capabilities of X's virtual desktop, by allowing users to look around and store infinite information on a finite screen size, without having to move the mouse to the bottom of the screen. One major benefit is comparing information. I like to program by comparing my current code to previously written code, and I like to run a program while reading a help file. In most current operating systems, you must either run a very high resolution, frequently switch between the applications or print out one file's contents to use to compare. These methods are all very inefficient. With a 3D OS, a user could merely look back and forth with simple mouse movements, or could move the applications back into the screen, so they're smaller but both legible. True, most 3D programs have difficulty rendering precision fonts, but text programs should be able to use orthographic rendering rather than perspective so that the fonts and images will simply scale down rather than twist out of recognition.
Another benefit to the 3D operating system I propose is the ability to mimic the real world and have productive customizability. If you are learning computers you may be able to represent a desk as a simple and easy to understand metaphor. Using a hand to pull out a drawer from a 3D desk is much more realistic and easier to understand than pointing an arrow at an iconized folder (for the simple folks). If you want coolness, 3D definitely gives you that option, and companies may want the operating system to represent their entrance, building or product, and incorporate their logo. Using such a customized interface allows for simple operation while enabling complex tasks. A heads-up display would allow quick access to certain tasks, while the user could still navigate through their environment.
If beginning users want to venture into the ExperimentalGUI, they may learn it's features by a 3D animated tour guide or something like that. One plus of using VRML is it's ability to run complex simulations with a very small file size compared with other mediums such as movies or animated gif's. I think help files should be either html or something to that effect, but compatible with the JOS CLI's help files; be comparable in completeness to Linux's help files but presentable and linkable like Windows' help files.
With the proliferation of cheap, powerful, 3D enhanced computers on the market, now is the perfect time to introduce an operating system able to make use of the computers resources. If a free 3D OS can be produced before Microsoft or Macintosh, with the ability to use current software on the market, then JOS has the potential to become a very popular operating system.
I would like to see a competitive operating system, which means one capable of running software for Windows and possibly other operating systems as well. If people can't run their investment in existing software, then it will be very difficult to gain a significant user base. I would also like to see good crash protection and the ability to hotswap hardware and software. We need an OS that will appeal to experts, with the ability to run CLI, but also one that attracts beginning users to ease of use and simplicity.
If you have any comments, please don't hesitate. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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