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Alice: Lessons Learned from Building a 3D System for Novices

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posted on 01.01.1999, 00:00 authored by Matthew Conway, Steve Audia, Tommy Burnette, Dennis Cosgrove, Kevin Christiansen, Rob Deline, Jim Durbin, Rich Gossweiler, Shuichi Koga, Chris Long, Beth Mallory, Steve Miale, Kristen Monkaitis, James Patton, Jeff Pierce, Randy Pausch, Joe Shochet, David Staack, Brian Sterns, Richard Stoakley, Chris Sturgill, John Viega, Jeff White
We present lessons learned from developing Alice, a 3D graphics programming environment designed for undergraduates with no 3D graphics or programming experience. Alice is a Windows 95/NT tool for describing the time-based and interactive behavior of 3D objects, not a CAD tool for creating object geometry. Our observations and conclusions come from formal and informal observations of hundreds of users. Primary results include the use of LOGOstyle egocentric coordinate systems, the use of arbitrary objects as lightweight coordinate systems, the launching of implicit threads of execution, extensive function overloading for a small set of commands, the careful choice of command names, and the ubiquitous use of animation and undo.




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