3ds Max and the Forge APIs, what does that mean? To start, have you heard about the new Autodesk Forge platform? Forge is a place that gathers many new cloud service APIs into one place for consumption by developers. Forge includes the platform technology, a program for supporting partners (think ADN open on a broader scale), including a developer conference coming in June, and a fund where startups can apply for an investment by the Forge fund.
What does this have to do with 3ds Max programming concepts? Well, there are a number of reasons to start this conversation. The Forge services support 3ds Max in various ways. The View and Data API for example, can view 3D models in HTML 5 enabled browsers and apps – a nice way to share your models online, using your own custom websites or tools. The ReCap service provides 123D Catch style photogammetry reality capture into your custom workflow. Or maybe you want to exploit the A360 rendering service outside of 3ds Max with your own tools? A360 Rendering API coming soon!
Anyway, to give you a quick example, I pulled a free model from the great website: http://tf3dm.com/. This site has many great models for sharing. After exporting the model from 3ds Max, I converted it to the View and Data API format for viewing on the web. I used a great sample created by a colleague, Philippe Leefsma using node.js and angular.js. The sample is a working online website, and also has full source code available. The sample shows how to process the model through the View and Data API translation service and then makes it viewable on the web in a full 3D interactive way. A screenshot is included below to give you a taste, but I encourage you to try it out directly here: x-wing. Also check out some of the other models in the gallery. There is also a nice interactive demo here as well: http://lmv.rocks/.
BTW, I could have directly embedded the viewer here, but I wanted to direct you over to the Philippe's sample for a chance to play with other models, or to try your own (that can be uploaded there as well).
How to get the 3ds Max model into the viewer format? Well, the translation service does not yet support the 3ds Max native format (*.max), but there is some work being done to bring this capability into the translation service soon. For now you can export to one of the other formats. The FBX format is supported, but is not ideal for including materials at the moment. The 3DS format works well, and allows you to structure the model geometry so that the viewer can browse the components independently. The DWF format is best for supporting materials out of 3ds Max. I used DWF in this example to get the texture materials to come across. Expect to see improvements to this process once native *.max format is directly supported by the translation service.
If you are interested to learn more about the Forge platform, we can offer you a discount code to the Forge DevCon coming in June. Autodesk is offering GetCOREInterface readers a 30% discount to the Forge Developer Conference. Simply use the code ADN_ME30 when registering. Note that students can register for free with your education email address. Because conferences are always better with friends, you can also contact us for details on a special “Refer a Friend" offer for even greater savings!
If you do plan to attend, and would like to meet, just let me know… I’ll be there as well! Hope to see you there.