In past few weeks we haven’t added any significant features to 3DTin front end, therefore I didn’t have much to write. I have spent most of that time working on the backend, whereas Nihar has been working on tidying up 3DTin’s GUI widgets to create a consistent interface.

Ever since 3DTin started, I chose Google App Engine to host the website, mainly due to extremely cheap hosting and my preference for Python. GAE has served us well. During the times of flash traffic it has helped us remain up. However, as 3DTin’s needs started to diverge from a typical website (Export server, Cadmium factory server), we found GAE to be very limiting. I have been contemplating the shift from GAE for over a year now. But it didn’t make sense to spend time on it at the expense of ignoring CAD features of the frontend. However, GAE announced certain changes in past month and it suddenly made sense to work on the migration after all. I spent entire October re-architecting our server architecture. In the new design I got chance to implement certain features that should reduce the overall loading time of 3DTin.

The backend work is in its last stage now and during next week we will proceed with actual migration from GAE to Amazon EC2. Our plan is to have minimal downtime during the process. In fact, if everything goes according to the plan, the site will never be down; only for a brief period of time it will go readonly (i.e. you won’t be able to save Sketches). I will post updates about how it goes.

Meanwhile, let me write about some subtle enhancements that Nihar has done in 3DTin GUI. In my opinion, 3DTin’s GUI still lacks consistency (e.g. Undo-redo feature, standard keyboard commands). Nihar’s work is a step in that direction to improve things. He has implemented a consistent Keyboard handling architecture, so that standard keyboard keys will behave as expected. For instance, Enter and ESC can now be consistently used to accept/dismiss dialog prompts. In the template browser dialog, Arrow keys provide an alternative way to reach the desired template. I am sure these small details are going to prove important in the long run, so we are taking some time off the main feature-train to work on them.

Every other day I browse the sketches that users have created recently, and more often than not I come across a sketch that makes me go “wow!”. I add these great works to the gallery and also post them to our Facebook page and Twitter stream. I will highly recommend you to subscribe to one of these channels to see some incredible 3D modeling work people are doing with 3DTin. You will find the links on the left of this column.

Stay tuned and enjoy modeling.

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