Making Matter

Help with Exploring these Pages

Index © M. Hewat 1998-2001 Help

  • The 3D Structure Window
    If you don't see a new window displaying an interactive 3D model after clicking on ¶-flagged links, you must first download a VRML viewer such as CosmoPlayer for Windows and Macintosh, or VRMLview for Windows, Linux, BeOS and SGI. Save the file to disk, uncompress it (usually by double-clicking) and install as below. Although we recommend CosmoPlayer-2.1.1 or VRMLview, you can find other VRML-1 viewers at the VRML Resources site.

  • Installing Cosmo 2.1.1 using MSIE or Netscape under Windows-95/98/NT or SGI/Macintosh
    On Windows, it is important that you use the latest version of CosmoPlayer (2.1.1). First uninstall any old versions of Cosmo and restart the machine. Then when installing Cosmo, make sure you select use with "un-supported" browsers. Recent versions of Netscape and MSIE will not be recognised by the Cosmo installer, but of course work perfectly well. If CosmoPlayer does not work under Netscape, search for the npcosmop211.* files, copy them to the plugins folder and re-start Netscape. On Macintosh, allocate a very large memory to MSIE/Netscape (40 Mbytes if possible).

  • Installing VRMLview or other independent applications with MSIE under Windows
    VRMLview has the advantage that it can directly print JPEG images of the structure, but Cosmo is faster and can blink between structures to compare them. To install VRMLview, place the application in a folder such as D:\Program Files\vrmlview\vrmlview.exe. Then open any folder and select View/Folder Options, Select File Types and add a New Type with Description as VRML file, Content(MIME) as x-world/x-vrml and Extension as .WRL. Finally, add a New Action called open and browse to find the application vrmlview. Important: add "%1" after the application path to tell vrmlview to read the current input as the file to load i.e. the Application box should contain something like "D:\Program Files\vrmlview\vrmlview.exe" "%1".

  • Installing VRMLview with Netscape under Windows, Linux, SGI or other systems
    Recent versions of Netscape may simply prompt you for the application to use. Otherwise, place the VRMLview application in a folder such as /local/bin/vrmlview. Then go to Netscape Edit/Preferences/Navigator/Applications and add vrmlview as a new application, making sure to include the full path to it and to add "%1" after the application name to tell it to read the current input ie "/local/bin/vrmlview/vrmlview.exe" "%1". Again define the extension as .WRL and the Mime Type as x-world/x-vrml. VRMLview also works well under the new Linux browser Konqueror.

  • Printing the 3D Structure Window
    You cannot print the 3D structure window directly (but under VRMLview, you can save a JPEG image). Normally you can use the "PrintScreen" key. Enlarge the window to fill the screen for best resolution, then in Windows press the "Alt-PrintScreen" keys to copy just the top window. Paste this into MS-Word or any graphics application, and print from that application after cropping, selecting the option to fill the whole page.

  • The CosmoPlayer VRML Controls
    Hold down the mouse button over the 3D object and drag the mouse: the left button is used to rotate, the right button to translate, and the "middle button" to zoom. (If you don't have a middle wheel button or if it is not defined as "middle button" in the Windows Control Panel mouse properties, hold down the Ctrl key while dragging with the left button). If the image skates off the page, you may need to choose "Examine" mode. Locate the small Change Controls stick at the bottom left-center of the Cosmo console. Click on this stick to shift it up. (Sometimes you need to click it twice to enter "Examine" mode). Since you can then examine the structure with the mouse alone, you might want to minimise this dashboard console by clicking on the left tab. Move the structure to the center of the window, or zap an atom with the cross-hair tool, to rotate about that point.

  • The VRMLview Controls
    These are similar to those for CosmoPlayer; the right button rotates, the left zooms, and both together (or the middle button) translates. When the first VRML structure is displayed, adjust the size of the window, select View then Filled, Full Model, and Backface Culling On. Also try Settings - Window Buffer Off, otherwise you may need to click in the window to redraw the display. These settings are saved when you close VRMLview.

  • Optimising CosmoPlayer2.1.1
    Open the Cosmo Preferences (bottom right of console) and try the 3 options for Graphics: Automatic, Direct3D, and OpenGL. (Press the '=' key to display the frame rate, and rotate the drawing). Experiment with different settings, sizes of window and number of colours set by the Windows desktop. Download and install the latest drivers for your graphics card of course. On a PC, you might try installing SGI's openGL driver which may give an up to 40% speed increase over MicroSoft's Direct3D driver, and is even faster than some hardware graphics cards. Finally, under Preferences-Advanced, select the Virtual Trackball rather than the default Standard Examiner - this makes it easier to rotate the structure !

  • The Speed of the 3D Display
    The speed with which you can rotate 3D objects naturally depends on how complex they are and how powerful your computer is. You will need at least a 75 Mhz Pentium class PC, a Macintosh PowerPC, or a Unix workstation such as a Silicon Graphics O2. The display may be faster if you reduce the size of the window. For $1000 you can now buy a PC that will rival an SGI, with a 3D frame rate higher than many monitor refresh rates for simple structures. If possible, choose one with a modern PC-graphics card eg containing the nVidea G-Force chipset.

  • But what is VRML anyway ?
    You don't need to know what VRML is, but if you are curious, it stands for Virtual Reality Modelling Language. You can learn how easy it is to use for crystallography from the ILL's WWW pages.

    But first look at the pretty pictures of typical structures produced by ICSD-for-WWW.

    Please report any problems to