You are invited to try out GlowScript (“Graphics Library on Web”), an easy to use 3D programming environment inspired by VPython, but which runs in a browser window. GlowScript has been developed by David Scherer (the originator of VPython) and me.
* GlowScript uses the WebGL 3D graphics library that is included in current versions of major web browsers. You must have a modern graphics card with Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). Browser details follow.
Chrome: Current version supports WebGL.
Firefox: Current version supports WebGL.
Opera: Current version supports WebGL.
Internet Explorer: IE 11 supports WebGL, but there is a bug of unknown origin that prevents GlowScript from running.
Safari: Current version supports WebGL. For older versions, go to the Advanced section of Safari preferences and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar”, then on the Develop menu check “Enable WebGL”.
Tablets and smart phones: Most tablets and smart phones now support WebGL and run GlowScript programs, though transparency is buggy, and currently there is no way to zoom and rotate.
* At glowscript.org, run the example programs.
* Log in (you’ll be asked for a Google login, such as a gmail account), and try writing some programs yourself.
* Click “Run this program” or press Ctrl-1 to execute your program in the same window, then click “Edit this program” to return to editing.
* Alternatively, while editing press Ctrl-2 to execute your program in a separate window, so that you can view the execution and the program code simultaneously. After making edits, press Ctrl-2 in the editor to run the new program.
* While running a program, click Screenshot to capture a thumbnail image for your program page.
* In the editor, click Share this program to learn how to let other people run your program.
There is a version system in place that will allow old programs to continue running in the future. The first line of a program you write is automatically created to be “GlowScript X.Y VPython” (where X.Y is the current version number). When a new version comes out, the software for running the older version is retained for use whenever a program with an old version number is encountered. For example, programs written for either GlowScript 0.3 or 0.4 or 0.5 can all run today (the version system was created after GlowScript 0.2).
There is now a user forum connected to glowscript.org, where you can describe your experiences or ask for assistance.
I am committed to maintaining and hopefully extending VPython, as it is obviously much more mature than GlowScript and benefits from the existence of lots of useful modules, especially for scientific programming.
With WebGL’s emphasis on the use of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) available on modern graphics cards makes it possible for GlowScript to do high-quality graphics. VPython was created at a time when that was not an option, but it is possible that the graphics developments for GlowScript will provide a foundation for improving the graphics in VPython.
For users of VPython, note that the VPython Help summarizes the main differences between classic and GlowScript versions of VPython. Also available there is a Python program for converting VPython programs to GlowScript programs.
If you are new to programming, you may find the Python tutorials at www.codecademy.com very helpful.