GlowScript: 3D animations in a browser

You are invited to try out GlowScript (“Graphics Library on Web”), an easy to use 3D programming environment inspired by VPython, but which runs in a browser window. GlowScript has been developed by David Scherer (the originator of VPython) and me.

GlowScript VPython uses the RapydScript-NG Python-to-JavaScript compiler. VPython 7 makes it possible to use the same syntax with true Python, thanks to the vpython module created by John Coady and extended by Ruth Chabay and me, which uses the GlowScript libraries to display 3D animations, in a Jupyter notebook, or using a launcher such as IDLE.

* At glowscript.org, click Example programs to see the kinds of things that VPython can do in a browser. When viewing a list of programs you can click View to see the VPython program, or when running a program you can click Edit this program to see the code.

* Click Help in the upper right corner of the window for detailed documentation on GlowScript VPython (and a link to more technical documentation on how to use the GlowScript text editor, and on using JavaScript or RapydScript).

* GlowScript uses the WebGL 3D graphics library that is included in current versions of major web browsers. You must have a modern graphics card with Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). GlowScript even works in browsers on smartphones and tablets.

* To write your own programs, log in (you’ll be asked for a Google login, such as a gmail account).

* Click “Run this program” or press Ctrl-1 to execute your program in the same window, then click “Edit this program” to return to editing.

* Alternatively, while editing press Ctrl-2 to execute your program in a separate window, so that you can view the execution and the program code simultaneously. After making edits, press Ctrl-2 in the editor to run the new program.

* While running a program, click Screenshot to capture a thumbnail image for your program page.

* In the editor, click Share this program to learn how to let other people run your program.

There is a version system in place that will allow old programs to continue running in the future. The first line of a program you write is automatically created to be “GlowScript X.Y VPython” (where X.Y is the current version number). When a new version comes out, the software for running the older version is retained for use whenever a program with an old version number is encountered.

There is now a user forum connected to glowscript.org, where you can describe your experiences or ask for assistance.

WebGL’s emphasis on the use of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) available on modern graphics cards makes it possible for GlowScript to do high-quality graphics.

For users of Classic VPython, note that the VPython Help summarizes the main differences between Classic VPython (VPython 6) and GlowScript VPython (and VPyhon 7). Also available there is a Python program for converting Classic VPython programs to the new syntax.

The GlowScript libraries have been implemented by Brian Marks in Trinkets and in VPython 7.

If you are new to programming, you may find the Python tutorials at www.codecademy.com very helpful.

Bruce Sherwood

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