If you have downloaded the latest version of Alice 3.1 (188.8.131.52.0.), which was released at the SIGCSE ’13 Conference in Denver in March, you will have noticed several significant changes to the IDE interface.
This is the third post in a series of blog posts examining the most significant of these changes. (Note: the images in this post are taken from the next release of Alice 3.1, so they will look a little different from 184.108.40.206.0, but the functionality is the same.)
The Alice 3.1 Gallery has been redesigned to better help find appropriate models for an Alice animation. There are now multiple tabs present the contents in the Gallery by the Class Hierarchy, by Theme, and by Group. There is tab that allows direct searching of the Gallery, and a new Tab for Shape and Text objects to be used in the project.
Browse Gallery by Class Hierarchy
The overall Alice class hierarchy is organized by modes of mobility. Objects of the Biped class move around on two legs, Flyers will have two legs and can fly, Quadrapeds move around on four legs, and Swimmers live in water and swim. Props are typically thought of as static objects, with no obvious modes of mobility. Currently some vehicles (such as space ships and pirate ships) will also be found in this class, but there will soon be a separate Vehicles gallery.
You may select objects from the gallery by clicking on one of the buttons. The button shows an graphical representation of the skeleton of the class, the name of the class, and the number of class models or sub-classes (for example in the case of Swimmer objects) in that class hierarchy.
Subsequent blog posts will examine the subclasses and class models of the Gallery in more detail.
Browse Gallery by Theme
In the design of the Alice models for the gallery, a lot of our discussion has been around what settings would be interesting for choosing which models to build. In many ways, this parallels the process by which Alice 2 models were originally created. In the Building Virtual Worlds course, taught by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University, students developed stories and animations, and then built the models to support those projects.
We have not actually built specific stories, but have tried to think of scenes and scenarios that reflect the diversity of the Alice community, which is now world-wide, support the development of an interesting and engaging curriculum, and serves as story-starters for students.
Browse Gallery by Scene tab uses thematic tags to organize class models reflecting this organization.
Browse Gallery by Group
We also recognize that not all animations fall neatly into any thematic setting and project builders will sometimes just be looking for interesting models to add to their story. Alice class models have also been tagged in different ways so that class models can be found in different groupings. Models may find themselves in multiple groupings. For example, a plant may be found in the Plant category, or in the scenery category.
There are times when a specific model is being looked for, and a direct search may be the most efficient way to locate that model. As a word is typed into the search box, Alice will display an increasingly more specific set of class models, based on their name, their tags and what is being typed into the box.
This tab displays a set of class models for shapes for projects, as well as the 3D text models, and the billboard model (which allows 2D graphics images to be imported into Alice 3.1).