Collada

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What is Collada

The Collada .dae file format is a Digital Asset Exchange Schema (according to www.collada.org), thus a file format for storing 3d media.

It uses XML containing no binary data packages. This makes collada files easy to access, but too bulky for realtime use. Clients will probably end up using native file formats even if media is generated in collada.

Why Collada?

Because currently we need to have models in both cal3d (for Sear) and Ogre3D (for Ember). Collada would be the reference format, so we'd have to store only one file (or set of files) per model in the Subversion repository.

Clients might elect to use their (3D lib's) native format, which would be converted to from the Collada-format reference file(s). How this would actually be done (server or client? Caching? Some server-side daemon?) still has to be decided.

Collada models are (supposed to be) freely exchangeable between supported applications. Since that's the core purpose of Collada ("COLLADA enables content creation pipelines", as quoted from the Khronos Group, the consortium that coordinates Collada work), we should be able to work on the same model file in a variety of apps (free or commercial) without problems. Should being the operative word here, of course.

Using Collada

There is support for Blender and Ogre3D (used by Ember). There's also support for commercial apps like Maya, as far as we know. We do not at this point know how good this support is.

Support needed: cal3d (as used by Sear). Google came up empty.

We are working on a tool called Plunger that can convert Collada to Ogre, Cal3D and MD3. See the ToDo List.

The Plugins

Blender 
The Blender plugin already sits on my server, just need to move it somewhere accessible :). You can also grab it off SourceForge yourself. Somemeshes import others do not.
Maya
3ds Max
Get them off [1]. It requires registration.
Ogre3D
The Ogre3D wiki has a page on a Collada plugin, at [2]. The source resides in the "ogreaddons" part of the Ogre repository, which can be here. Instructions for checking out the code are here. A post on the Ogre forums is available here.
Softimage|XSI
XSI|Softimage 5.5 Collada is unsupported! XSI 6 and up has complete support.

Viewers

Feeling Viewer 
Commercial Collada viewer for Windows. here
X3D Viewer 
Free SwirlX3D Viewer for VRML, X3D, Collada, 3DS. here
Ballistic Viewer 
Open Source Collada viewer. here
Pelle Johnsen Viewer 
Java Collada viewer. here