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Zea Engine - Support For glTF

“We published a build of the glTF loader for the Zea Engine under the MIT open-source license and are working to support the features that matter most to early adopters.”

Introduction

From the start in 2013, glTF showed promise. Since its release in June 2017 by the Khronos Group, glTF 2.0 has accelerated to become the “JPEG of 3D”. It’s now the standard file format for 3D interoperability. Adopted by industry leaders like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Adobe, Epic, and Unity, we at Zea were feeling a little left out of the party - until now! 

What is glTF? The Khronos group describes the format as: “glTF™ 2.0 is an open standard for efficient and reliable encapsulation and transmission of 3D assets and scenes, including PBR materials and animations” (Khronos Group, 2018).

gLTF ecosystem

You might see our logo in the glTF ecosystem soon. Image credit: Khronos Group

What Happened

We assumed that CAD professionals wouldn’t care about a new format for interoperability, especially when the first few use-cases were to publish 3D images to a Facebook feed. With that position, we concentrated our efforts on converting popular CAD file formats to our zcad format for optimized web viewing. In doing so, we discovered some pros and cons to our strategy.

We made a pivot in March 2021 when we open-sourced our core rendering engine. This change to our licensing strategy makes development much more accessible and transparent. Furthermore, we introduced a community license that allows some users to use the engine completely free of charge. The problem was that there was no way to get data into the Zea Engine at that price point.

In the end, and contrary to our hypothesis, we were happy to discover a wide range of use-cases where the glTF file format meets all the requirements.

Our position is that the glTF file format is best suited when sharing the content is more important than data security.

What’s Happening Now

We published the glTF loader project under the MIT open-source license. We’re working to support the features that matter most to early adopters. Please feel free to report issues to either the glTF loader or the Zea Engine projects.

What This Means For You

If you are considering a web-based 3D graphics engine, you have all the tools you need to start, build, and test an application using the glTF file format.  

Closing

We hope to keep learning a lot about how you go about solving problems for 3D CAD applications and building better user experiences. Don’t ever hesitate to report an issue in one of our repos on GitHub or contact us to talk about how we can help you crush it!

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