New Java Technologies and a Java-based Framework for Interactive Illustration Development

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New Java Technologies and a Java-based
Framework for Interactive lllustration
Development

Jeffrey Evan Beall
Department of Computer Science
Brown University

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Master of
Sciences in the Brown University
Department of Computer Science.

August 1997

,
rofessor John F. Hughes Advisor

Table of Contents

1.0

Introduction
1.1 Document Overview 1.2 Notes to tile Reader

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2.0

lBt~l~t~d ~()rlt

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• iI

2.1 Overview of Commercial Web-based Technologies 2.2 Recent Java and Interactive Illustration Efforts at Brown

3.0

Java Technologies: Concepts and Discussion
3.1 Some General Language Features 3.2 Abstract Windowing Toolkit 3.3 JavaBeans

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~~illl~t~llt

••••••••••.••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••. JL~ 15
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4.1 Time Models 4.2 Canvas Framework 4.3 Lightweight Components .,

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6.0

Beanfitalk at ~ork ••..•.......••..•.••.••.••••.•....•...••.•••••••••.....•.....••..... 29

Future ~ ork
6.1 Extended Media Support 6.2 JavaBeans Integration 6.3 Industry Developments and Their Impact

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7.0 8.0 9.0

Conclusions
~~~()~I~(l~~I11;~

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16t~j[~Jr~Il~~~ •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ~JL

10.0 Appendix A: Beandtalk Version History

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1.0 Introduction
For many years, researchers and educators have been investigating techniques for computer-based and computer-assisted learning. One such technique is known as the interactive illustration. Briefly stated, an interactive illustration is a 2D or 3D structured environment that pedagogically guides the user through a concept or set of concepts to foster exploratory learning. Their scope can range from a small responsive 2D diagram to a fully immersive and reactive 3D world. Until recently, interactive illustrations were only feasible on expensive workstations found at uni­ versities, precluding wide audiences such as high school students who could benefit from them. However, advances in consumer computing hardware and software tech­ nology are alleviating the problem, and interactive illustrations can now take advan­ tage of commodity computing platforms [5]. One of the main thrusts of current interactive illustration research is to explore design issues in the context of the World Wide Web [26]. The Web, though still an emerging technology itself, already has conventions for graphic design, interaction, and navigation that must be followed in order to make effective Web-based illustra­ tions. Another research issue is choosing the appropriate illustration development technology. The most prominent player in this realm is Java. In two year's time, Java has gone from being a little toy on Web pages to becom­ ing a powerful language and platform in its own right. The latest version of Java, the JDK1.l, now provides a full-featured set of tools for building applications on any scale. However, the standard Java libraries are not designed specifically for illustra­ tion development and can potentially be awkward to use. Also, certain higher-level design patterns that are useful in many different illustrations are not inherent in these Java libraries. A combination of tools and design patterns for interactive illus­ tration development which build on Java's strengths would improve the development process by letting developers focus more on content instead of supporting technology. The BeanStalk component library and framework described in this document is such a solution.

1.1 Document Overview
This document briefly reviews the other competing Web-based technologies for

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interactive illustration...
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