Stereoscopic virtual reality rendering, export to Collada and obj files and many other new features available

by abenedik 1. July 2016 23:42

I am very happy that I can present you some great new features of new versions of Ab3d.PowerToys and Ab3d.DXEngine.

The greatest new features of this release are:

- Support for stereoscopic rendering for 3D TV and for red-cyan glasses,
- Ultra-quality settings with new super-sampling mode that improve render quality,
- Improved support for rendering over Remote desktop.,
- Export WPF 3D models to Collada (.dae), obj, ply and stl files (using Assimp exporter).


Stereoscopic rendering

Ad3d.DXEngine just got support for split-screen and anaglyph rendering. Those are the first two steps into the virtual reality world.

Split-screen rendering allows viewing the 3D scene on 3D TV screens. The following screenshot shows a simple generated 3D screen:

Split-screen virtual reality with Ab3d.DXEngine rendering


The virtual reality 3D effect can be also achieved with using red-cyan (or some other colors) glasses and with using the Anaglyph rendering mode:

Anaglyph virtual reality with Ab3d.DXEngine rendering


I also checked the requirements for NVIDIA 3D Vision. But unfortunately it requires an exclusive full screen rendering mode and does not work in maximized borderless window mode that is the only full screen mode possible by WPF. But the good news is that it looks like it will be possible to add support for Oculus Rift and Vive. So if you like virtual reality, stay tuned for the future version.


Super-sampling mode

DirectX usually uses multi-sampling (MSAA) that improves the quality of the edges with producing nice anti-aliased edges. Instead of using multi-sampling it is also possible to use post-processing techniques (for example FXAA or SMAA) to produce nice soft edges. But neither multi-sampling nor anti-aliasing post processing do not solve the problem where small details are can be lost when objects are rendered far away from the camera.

This problem is visible on the left side of the following screenshot:

Supersampling with DXEngine DirectX rendering

The solution to this problem is to use super-sampling – as shown on the rights side. Super-sampling solves this problem with calculating color (executing pixel shader) for each sample – this means multiple times for each pixel. This effectively gives the same results as if the image would be rendered at a bigger resolution and then scale the image down to the target resolution.


Remote desktop

I would also like to mention that the new version of Ab3d.DXEngine library improves support for rendering over remote desktop. Previously the 3D scene was visible through remote desktop only when DirectXOverlay PresentationType way used. But this presentation type has a serious drawback because it does not allow to mix 3D content with other 2D WPF content – for example render 2D controls on top of 3D scene. With the new version, the remote desktop works well also with DirectXImage PresentationType – this allows showing 3D scene that is mixed with other 2D controls. Note that this requires .Net target framework 4.5 or later and using the .net 4.5 build of Ab3d.DXEngine library.

Those three new features were in my opinion the best new features of this release for Ab3d.DXEngine. But as always there are more new features and fixes available. The following is the full list of all other changes:

  • Simplified setting line depth bias with SetDXAttribute(DXAttributeType.LineDepthBias, depthBias) method - this can prevent z-fighting when rendering 3D lines on top of solid objects.
  • Added Ab3d.DirectX.DXDiagnostics.CaptureNextFrame and IsCaptureFrameSupported methods to programmatically captures the next rendered frame with Visual Studio Graphics Debugging (this also allows capturing frames for DirectXImage PresentationType).
  • Added support for Visibility property on objects derived from UIElement3D .
  • Added IsMaterialSortingEnabled property to DXScene to control if sorting objects by their materials is enabled. Enabling sorting improves performance because objects with the same materials are rendered one after another (this reduces the required DirectX state changes), but when you want to have determined order of rendering you can disable the sorting.
  • Improved automatically updating WireframeVisual3D when LineThickenss or LineColor is changed.
  • Improved hardware rendering of 3D lines - depth problems could occur when long lines are crossing the near plane (one end of the line is behind the line).
  • Added Clone method to GraphicsProfile to simplify creating your custom graphic profiles that are based on default graphics profiles.
  • Added ExecutePixelShaderPerSample to DXScene and to GraphicsProfile - this allows turning multisampling into supersampling for better shader quality (used by new UltraQualityHardwareRendering).
  • Prevented throwing exception when ImageBrush uses a texture with relative Uri.
  • Fixed using EmissiveMaterial properties on materials that do not have DiffuseMaterial (under some circumstances).
  • Fixed using Opacity or alpha value for EmissiveMaterial.
  • Changed some properties and methods in RenderingContext class and in some RenderingSteps - if you are an advanced DXEngine user and use custom rendering steps, you can contact us to get a full list of changes.


Export 3D models to Collada, obj, ply and stl files

This release also brings many new features to the Ab3d.PowerToys library.

The most important new feature is added ability to export WPF 3D models to Collada (.dae), obj, ply and stl files. This was really a highly requested feature. It allows creation of 3D models with WPF 3D and Ab3d.PowerToys that can be exported and used in some other 3D modelling application.

The code that does the exporting is using the great open source Assimp library. 

As with Ab3d.DXEngine, this release of Ab3d.PowerToys also has quite long list of improvements and fixes – the following is the full list of changes:

  • Added support for texture coordinates generation in extruded mesh - use new ExtrudeTextureCoordinatesGenerationType.
  • Added ConeTubeVisual3D - it can be used to create Visual3D that represents a 3D Tube with different top and bottom radius.
  • Added a new constructor to TubeMesh3D that takes different inner and outer radius of top and bottom of the tube.
  • Added IsXAxisShown, IsYAxisShown and IsZAxisShown properties to ModelMoverVisual3D to allow showing only specifed arrows.
  • Added MeshUtils.GenerateCylindricalTextureCoordinates method that generates TextureCoordinates based on the Cylindrical projection.
  • Added MeshUtils.Project3DPointsTo2DPlane to project 3D positions to a 2D plane.
  • Improved EventManager3D to call MouseLeave, MouseEnter and other events when the camera is changed by MouseWheel.
  • Added UpdateHitObjects method to EventManager3D - it can be used to manually update the current 3D object behind the mouse position - this is useful when camera is changed without changing the mouse position.
  • Improved FreezeMeshGeometry3D property on BoxVisual3D and SphereVisual3D so that they do not to be set before all other properties.
  • Added ModelUtils.HasAnyLight method that checks the Viewport3D, Visual3D or Model and returns true if any light is defined (it is possible to exclude AmbientLight).
  • Changed default AssimpWpfImporter.AssimpPostProcessSteps from PostProcessSteps.FlipUVs | PostProcessSteps.GenerateSmoothNormals | PostProcessSteps.Triangulate to PostProcessSteps.Triangulate.
  • Improved automatically setting shapeYVector in an overload of CreateExtrudedMeshGeometry that does not have the shapeYVector parameter.
  • Fixed problems with ModelMoverVisual3D when it is shown inside DXEngine and AxisLength, AxisRadius or AxisArrowRadius are changed after the ModelMoverVisual3D is already shown.
  • Fixed recreating 3D lines in cases when the parent ModelVisual3D is removed from Viewport3D, then the camera is changed and the parent ModelVisual3D is added to the scene again.


I hope that you like the new features and stay tuned for next version. The plan is to add support for shadow mapping and great new ways to animate the camera in 3D space.

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Ab3d.PowerToys | DXEngine

All AB4D libraries improved with new licensing code and many new features

by abenedik 26. April 2016 21:39

I would like to inform you that today new versions of all the AB4D products have been published.

The main reason for this release is that the evaluation and commercial licensing code that is included in all the products have been greatly improved. What is more, the deployment script that I use to prepare all release version have been improved.

Also, all the products got some additional functionality or fixed bugs. For example, the following image shows new ViewCubeCameraController from Ab3d.PowerToys library:

3D ViewCube in Ab3d.PowerToys library

The main benefits of the new licensing and deployment are:

  • All products are now also compiled for .Net 4.5 target framework. This means that all products are available for .Net 3.5, .Net 4.0 and also .Net 4.5 (an exception is Ab3d.DXEngine that does not support .Net 3.5). This will allow using new language features in the libraries – especially async and await support.
  • New evaluation and commercial licensing code is now faster and required less resources.
  • New evaluation code allows starting ad-hock evaluation on a computer that do not have the evaluation version installed. This means that you will be able to create a sample project with an evaluation version and then just copy your application to another computer. At the first start of your application you will get a dialog to start a new evaluation and then be able to continue running your application. In the previous version you needed to install evaluation version on the other computer too.
  • Improved commercial licensing code that brings new options to embed license key into your project and allows using special license key for application. This simplifies compiling projects on cloud base build servers and allows some other non-standard distributions. More details about that can be found in the new “Using commercial version” help file.

The new version also introduces new directory structure that is created after the libraries are installed. In the previous version the libraries for .Net 3.5 framework were installed into “bin” folder and libraries for .Net 4.0 framework were installed into “bin\.Net 4” folder. Now the organization is much more standard: the .Net 3.5 assemblies are in “bin\net35” folder, .Net 4.0 assemblies are in “bin\net40” folder and .Net 4.5 assemblies are in “bin\net45” folder.

This means that you might need to update your references.

The new .Net 4.5 versions of the libraries will allow using async keywords. Currently this has not yet been added to any of the libraries. But in the near future I plan to add support for async to all of the libraries. For example, async loading of 3D models or svg files. Another possibility is to create async methods to animate camera or ZoomPanel.


As mentioned before, this release also brings other improvements and fixes.

Ab3d.PowerToys got some great new features. The most highly anticipated feature is the ability to control the camera with 3D cube. The image with three possible cubes was shown before.

Another great addition to the library are new TubePathVisual3D and TubePathMesh3D that allows creating various tube based objects:

3D tube path in Ab3d.PowerToys library

The following is a full list of new features in Ab3d.PowerToys library

  • Added ViewCubeCameraController.
  • Added TubePathVisual3D and TubePathMesh3D.
  • Added support to create extruded MeshGeometry3D that has custom orientation (not only in the direction of Y axis). This can be achieved with using a new override of CreateExtrudedMeshGeometry that also takes shapeYVector parameter.
  • Added IsStartPositionClosed and IsEndPositionClosed properties to TubeLineVisual3D. Also added additional isStartPositionClosed and isEndPositionClosed constructor parameters to the TubeLineMesh3D.
  • Added FreezeMeshGeometry3D to BoxVisual3D and SphereVisual3D to control if the MeshGeometry3D is frozen.
  • Improved TubeVisual3D that now allows setting Height to 0 - this creates an optimized TubeVisual3D without creating both bottom and top ring - in this case only bottom ring is created.
  • Fixed using adjustmentFactor in FitIntoView method.
  • Fixed using FitIntoView when it is called in Loaded method and the Viewport3D is shown in Ab3d.DXEngine.
  • Fixed type used by ShowMovablePlanes property.
  • Improved MouseCameraController to capture the mouse only when the mouse rotation / movement is bigger than a few pixels. This prevents "swallowing" MouseUp event for processing mouse click in EventManager3D.
  • Added UsePreviewEvents property to EventManager3D – when set to true the EventManager3D subscribes to Preview mouse and touch events instead of standard events - for example PreviewMouseUp event instead of MouseUp event. This can be used to use left mouse button for camera rotation and also for click events.
  • Added TurnTo method to FirstPersonCamera - this turns the camera towards the specified position or to the specified direction vector.
  • CameraControlPanel now moves the FirstPersonCamera forward or backwards when ZoomIn or ZoomOut buttons are clicked.
  • When MouseCameraController is used for FirstPersonCamera the mouse wheel now moves camera forward and backwards.

The library also got a few new samples. Two are to demonstrate the ViewCubeCameraController and TubePathVisual3D. There is also a greatly improved FirstPersonCamera sample that also shows how to turn the camera toward the clicked object. Another new sample shows how to create an application where user can draw to a 3D texture – for example to write annotation to a 3D height map.


Ab2d.ReaderSvg library that can read svg files also got many new features. 

The new version now supports textPath element that can render text on a path:

Support for svg textPath element in Ab2d.ReaderSvg

Another very interesting new feature is the new GetElementSvgText method that returns the outer xml text of the specified element. This can be very useful when you add some special attributes or elements to the svg elements. If those elements are not standard svg elements, then ReaderSvg cannot read them. But with using GetElementSvgText you can get the xml text from the specified element and then parse the data out of the xml.

The following is a list of all new features:

  • Added support for textPath elements (positioning text on a path).
  • Added GetElementSvgText to get the svg text of the element with the specified id (can be used to read some additional svg properties that are not read by ReaderSvg).
  • Added support for dx and dy properties on the text element.
  • Fixed writing new line characters in XAML.
  • Added support for vertical text (glyph-orientation-vertical svg property).
  • Improved writing images in XAML that are now written in more clear XAML. Also fixed setting Source for images that are created from foreign objects.
  • Added support for reading number lists that end with comma - for example "12, 34, 56," - this prevented reading svg file in the previous version.
  • Improved support for rounder corners on rectangles in case when only rx or only ry is specified - in this case the other value is set to the same value.


Other libraries got only a few updates.

For example, the Ab3d.DXEngine library does not have any new feature in the core libraries but there are three new samples that show how to use standard DirectX rendering code inside DXEngine. The samples show how to render 3D cube with SharpDX code, use the camera and camera controller from Ab3d.PowerToys and mix the rendered 3D cube with other 3D objects from Ab3d.PowerToys library.

Ab2d.ReaderWmf got the following new features:

  • Improved reading images with negative scale transformations.
  • Improved positioning text for some special use cases (correctly position text based on the TextAlign mode).
  • Fixed ResourceDictionaryWriter so that the ResolveResourceKeyCallback is called also for root keys.


ZoomPanel library was only slightly improved – the number of history items was increased to 100.

Also Ab3d.Reader3ds got only one improvement. The support for reading broken 3ds files has been improved so that some invalid positions that are not used in TriangleIndices are fixed. This prevents creating too big bounds value that is usually used to position the camera after the model is loaded. 


I am really excited about this release. It improves many aspects of the libraries that are not related to the core functionality but are needed because of licensing. It also enables many new features that are possible with .Net 4.5 and allows creating more user friendly APIs with async methods.

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Ab3d.PowerToys | DXEngine | Reader3ds | ReaderSvg | ReaderWmf | ZoomPanel

Ab3d.DXEngine maintenance update available

by abenedik 15. March 2016 10:51

I would like to inform you that a smaller maintenance update for Ab3d.DXEngine has been published.

The update does not add new functionality to the rendering engine. It improves the performance of the engine and fixes a few issues.

The following is a list of changes:

  • Greatly improved performance of WireframeVisual3D when the 3D objects showing with WireframeVisual3D are animated with changing transformations.
  • Prevented black edges that sometimes appeared when showing textures.
  • Fixed rendering transparent objects that were not visible sometimes because of incorrect object order.
  • Fixed rendering specular highlight for directional light shader.
  • Fixed getting camera's view and projection matrices for left handed coordinate system (when IsRightHandedCoordinateSystem is false).

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New version of svg reader for .Net applications published

by abenedik 8. March 2016 21:34

I am happy to announced that a new version of Ab2d.ReaderSvg is available.

textPath svg element shown in ViewerSvg

As shown in the image above, the ReaderSvg now supports textPath svg element that positions text on a referenced path element.

Another very interesting new feature is a new GetElementSvgText method that returns the original svg text of the element specified with its name. This way it is possible to read data from svg file that are not recognized by ReaderSvg. The following image shows svg text for the selected element in ViewerSvg:

Showing svg text from selected element in ViewerSvg

There are also some other great new features and fixes:

  • Added support for vertical text (glyph-orientation-vertical svg property).
  • Improved support for rounder corners on rectangles in case when only rx or only ry is specified - in this case the other value is set to the same value.
  • Fixed reading text decorations (Underline and Strikethrough).
  • Added support for reading metafiles embedded into image's base64 encoded string.
  • Added support for reading images in foreignObject created in Microsoft Visio.
  • Added ReadForeignObjects property to Ab2d.ReaderSvg that enables or disables reading foreignObject elements (enabled by default).
  • Added support for reading data from number lists that end with comma - for example the following string in svg file was not read: "12, 34, 56,".
  • Improved writing images in XAML. They are now written in more clear format. Also fixed setting Source for images that are created from foreign objects.
  • Fixed writing new line characters in XAML.


As alwasy, the customers can get the latets version from their User Account page. Others can try the new version with downloading the evaluation version.

And if yuo find a svg file that is not read correctly, please send it to me and I will my best to improve ReaderSvg.



Rendering reflections and many other great new features with new versions of Ab3d.DXEngine and Ab3d.PowerToys

by abenedik 11. February 2016 23:01

The new version of Ab3d.DXEngine brings three big new features:

  1. Added support for rendering reflections with environmental and reflection maps.
  2. Added support for rendering unlimited number of lights with using multi-pass rendering.
  3. Improved rendering instanced objects with adding support for rendering many instances of Model3DGroup objects. Simplified hit testing on instanced objects with a new GetHitInstanceIndex method.

Rendering DirectX reflection in .Net with Ab3d.DXEngine


The Ab3d.PowerToys library also got some great new features. Some of the main new features are:

  1. Added ModelRotatorVisual3D that allows users to rotate selected 3D model. Improved ModelMoverVisual3D so that it also works in Ab3d.DXEngine.
  2. Greatly reduced the initialization time when creating many instances of SphereVisual3D and BoxVisual3D objects.
  3. Simplified working with hierarchically organized 3D models with new model iterators.

Rotating 3D models with ModelRotatorVisual3D

Let’s see some more details about the new features.</p> <p>Showing reflections pushes the boundaries of what is possible to achieve with WPF 3D API even further. The above image with reflective teapot shows a fully reflective 3D model. The level of reflection can be adjusted and specified for the whole object. Or, it can be specified for each part of the model with using a reflection map. The following image shows that is action (the reflection map is shown on the right):

Using DirectX ReflectionMap to specify reflection for each part of the 3D model

The handle and top of the teapot are shown with green color (specified in the teapot’s texture on the bottom image) and do not reflect the environment – those parts are almost black on the reflection map (upper image). But the rest of the teapot is fully reflective – defined by white color on the reflection map (in the bottom 1/3 of the image and on the smaller white rectangle on the right side).

To support scenarios where additional DXEngine properties need to be added to the existing WPF objects, the new version of Ab3d.DXEngine introduces a new set of extensions methods that allow adding additional attributes to WPF objects. 

For example the following two lines set EnvironmantMap and ReflectionMap to an existing WPF material:

usedMaterial.SetDXAttribute(DXAttributeType.Material_EnvironmentMap, _dxCubeMap);
usedMaterial.SetDXAttribute(DXAttributeType.Material_ReflectionMap, bitmapImage);

The new version of Ab3d.DXEngine also adds support to render unlimited number of lights. Previous version supported rendering only 16 lights + ambient light. This limit is now lifted with using multi-pass rendering. This means that when there are more than 16 lights in the scene it is rendered multiple times – each time different 16 lights are used and then all the rendered scenes are combined into the final image. The following screenshot shows a sample that animates the intensity of 64 PointLights:

Rendering many lights with using multiple-pass rendering

Multi-pass rendering is great for such scenarios. But it also has some disadvantages. If you need to use many lights, please check the additional comments in the “Many lights” sample.


I would also like to write a few words about new object instancing capabilities.

Object instancing is the ultimate performance optimization – if you show really many 3D objects and you convert your code to use object instancing than you have almost reached the peak of the performance. Some additional performance gains are still possible with tweaking the shaders, but most of the work was already done.

The trick is that when object instancing is used, the applications sends one mesh geometry to the graphics card and then tells it to render it many times – for each instance of the mesh you can specify different color and different transformation. Because the data about all the instances is send in one draw call, this can be done very quickly on the CPU. So the usual performance problem where GPU waits for the CPU to send commands is completely eliminated. 

Because instancing is so great for improving performance, the new version also allows you to render many instances of Model3DGroup objects (and not only many instances of MeshGeometry3D). The following screenshot shows many instances of RobotArm model:

Rendering many instances of Model3DGroup

Another improvement with instancing is that a GetHitInstanceIndex method was added to the InstanceData class. That method can be used in hit testing to get the index of the hit instance. This way you can easily connect the hit object with the background data that are connected to the hit instance.

If you are rendering many 3D objects, I would really advice you to try to convert your code to use instancing. You will be amazed on how fast the graphics cards can become when they are not waiting for the CPU (a newer graphics card recommended).


There are still lots of other new features and fixes. Also Ab3d.PowerToys library has been greatly improved.

But I do not want to make this blog post too long. 

To check new features in action, please check the new samples that come with the libraries. And for the record here are the full list of changes:


Ab3d.DXEngine v1.2:

  • Added support for rendering reflections with using EnvironmentalMaps
  • Added support for ReflectionMaps
  • Added support for rendering more than 16 lights (+ ambient light) with using multi-pass rendering.
  • Added support for Transform on InstancedMeshGeometryVisual3D
  • Added InstancedModelGroupVisual3D that can render many instances of all 3D models defined in the Model3DGroup.
  • Added GetHitInstanceIndex method to InstanceData to get an index of hit instance
  • Fixed showing transparent objects in some cases
  • Added TextureBlendState to IDiffuseTextureMaterial interface
  • Fixed rendering textures from files that use different DPI settings
  • Added extension methods that simplify adding additional DXEngine attributes to the existing WPF's objects (SetDXAttribute, GetDXAttributeCollection, GetDXAttribute, IsDXAttributeSet, ClearDXAttribute, GetDXAttributeOrDefault). This is currently used to specify the EnvironmentalMap and ReflectionMap.
  • Prevented memory leak when 3D model that was shown inside WireframeVisual3D was changed (further performance improvements in this case will follow).
  • Prevented rendering strange 3D lines that sometimes occur when the 3D lines were completely behind the camera
  • Fixed rendering transparent 3D lines
  • Fixed rendering transparent objects with emissive materials
  • Some other smaller bug fixes and improvements

The InstancedGeometryVisual3D was renamed into InstancedMeshGeometryVisual3D – the renaming was needed because a new InstancedModelGroupVisual3D was introduced and the previous name did not describe the class well enough.


Ab3d.PowerToys v7.4:

  • Added ModelRotatorVisual3D that allows user to rotate selected Model3D around any axes.
  • Added SubscribeWithEventManager3D method to ModelMoverVisual3D and ModelRotatorVisual3D to allow them to use EventManager3D for processing mouse events. This allows using the ModelMoverVisual3D and ModelRotatorVisual3D in Ab3d.DXEngine.
  • Greatly reduced the initialization time when creating many instances of SphereVisual3D or BoxVisual3D objects
  • Added ModelIterator class and two extension methods (ForEachVisual3D and ForEachGeometryModel3D) to simplify working with hierarchacly organized 3D models.
  • Added FitIntoView and GetFitIntoViewDistanceOrCameraWidth methods to TargetPositionCamera, SceneCamera, TargetRect3DCamera and ThirdPersonCamera. The method has greatly improved algorithm then it was available in the "Scene Editor" sample in the previous versions of Ab3d.PowerToys.
  • Fixed showing transparent 3D lines when LineColor's alpha value is less than 255.
  • Improved support for TextureCoordinates in ModelOptimizer
  • Added WidthDirection and HeightDirection to WireGridVisual3D that allows to set custom direction of the WireGrid (not only horizontal or horizontal in another coordinate system)
  • Added CreateWireGrid to Line3DFactory that allows creating WireGrid object with custom widthDirection and heightDirection vectors.
  • Added GetTargetViewport3DSceneBounds method to all Camera classes in Ab3d.PowerToys – the method calculates the scene bounding box
  • Change validation of Size property on BoxVisual3D, WireBoxVisual3D, MultiMaterialBoxVisual3D and PyramidVisual3D to allow having one component of size zero.
  • Fixed calculating scene size in SceneCamera when the scene hierarchy is complex
  • Added GetBounds and CombineTransform methods to Ab3d.Utilities.ModelUtils
  • Added CompositionRenderingHelper to help work with CompositionTarget.Rendering (allowing subscribed objects to be recycled by Garbage Collection and therefore preventing infinite rendering subscription in case when the Rendering is not unsubscribed)
  • Improved ModelMoverVisual3D so that it can also use EventManager3D for mouse event processing - this allows using ModelMoverVisual3D inside Ab3d.DXEngine.
  • Prevented throwing "Object reference" exception in ModelOptimiter that could occur sometimes when ImageBrush is used.
  • Added HeightDirection to TubeVisual3D and TubeMesh3D – this allows orienting the object in any direction and not only in up (0, 1, 0) direction.
  • Fixed throwing exception when Is3DAxesShown is initially set to false on CameraAxisPanel
  • Added "Custom Up Axis" sample that shows how to show data in another coordinate system - for example where Z is up.
  • Added "Perspective Transformation" sample that shows how to convert 3D positions to the 2D positions on the screen

Moved the ModelMovedEventArgs class from Ab3d.PowerToys.Common to Ab3d.Common namespace

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Ab3d.PowerToys | DXEngine

Greatly improved performance, new features and a new real-time HLSL shader editor come with new versions of Ab3d.DXEngine and Ab3d.PowerToys

by abenedik 3. December 2015 23:01

New versions of Ab3d.DXEngine and Ab3d.PowerToys libraries have been published.

The new versions bring improved performance, new features and many bug fixes. 

But let me talk about that later and start with a very interesting new sample that comes with Ab3d.DXEngine – a real-time HLSL shader editor. The following screenshot shows it in action:

Real-time shader editor in Ab3d.DXEngine

On the left side you can see the HLSL editor with full syntax highlighting. The editor is using great AvalonEdit component. The right side shows some options and a real-time preview of the 3D scene and used shader.

The real-time preview means that after each change of HLSL text, the HLSL text is compiled and the new shaders are used to render the preview image on the right.

The opened ComboBox shows that the editor comes with 6 shaders that can be used as a simple step by step HLSL tutorial. The first sample shows how to render all objects with a single color (you can experiment with changing the color components). The following effects add some interesting coloring. And the final shader shows how to create a shader with directional light lighting and with added fog.

So, if you have not tried to program in HLSL, this is your best and easiest chance to try it out.

And if you want to change the 3D scene, you can just open the XAML editor and change the 3D objects defined there.


And there are more great news. 

The new version of Ab3d.DXEngine has significantly better performance. In some cases (for example where many BoxVisual3D or similar objects are shown) the frame rate can be 3 times the previous frame rate. And already the previous version had some impressive performance. Also the time spend in the Update method is greatly reduced.

Also the problems with hardware accelerated 3D lines are now fixed. Because of some problems in the production version preparation, the previous version of Ab3d.DXEngine in many cases did not render the 3D lines with full hardware acceleration.

The biggest performance improvement in Ab3d.DXEngine can be achieved with using object instancing – rendering many instances of the same mesh. The performance is really amazing the following screenshot is showing 16.000 bunnies (each bummy model has 11.553 position) rendered at aroud 20 FPS (on i7 6700 and NVIDIA 970 GTX). Note that statistics in the lower right corner is showing that 184.848.000 positions are rendered:

Instancing in Ab3d.DXEngine

The problem with instancing in the previous version was that it did not support hit testing. This has been improved in the new version. Now you can set the IsWpfHitTestVisible property on InstancedGeometryVisual3D to true and hit testing (also the EventsManager3D from Ab3d.PowerToys) will begin to work. Though this will increase the initialization time because WPF objects need to be created before WPF hit testing can work. 

The new version also adds support for Binding on objects inside DXViewportView. For example, now you can bind IsVisible property on ModelVisual3D objects to CheckBox.IsChecked property.

The following is the full list of changes and improvements:

  • Fixed using Binding on objects inside DXViewportView.
  • Fixed rendering 3D lines with hardware accelerating geometry shader (instead of Ab3d.PowerToys's LinesUpdater).
  • Improved support for transformations on TileBrush (used on ImageBrush, VisualBrush and DrawingBrush).
  • Added IsWpfHitTestVisible to InstancedGeometryVisual3D - this allows WPF hit testing of instanced geometry (though this increased initialization time because WPF's GeometryModel3D objects needs to be created).
  • Improved InstancedGeometryVisual3D so that it is not needed any more to call Update method when the InstancesData is set for the first time. Also fixed problems when the objects were not shown if Update was called before the InstancedGeometryVisual3D was added to Visual tree.
  • Improved performance with moving some matrix calculations to vertex shader.
  • Added support for rendering WPF's UIElement3D objects. NOTE: WpfUIElement3DNode can only show 3D models but does not support the input events on the UIElement3D (MouseEnter, MouseMove, etc.). Those events cannot be supported because Viewport3D control is not visible and does not provide the events to the UIElement3D.
  • Greatly improved Update method call performance when many Visual3D objects from Ab3d.PowerToys are used (for example BoxVisual3D objects).
  • Added IsCheckingChildrenForChanges field to WpfModelVisual3DNode that can be used to skip checking ModelVisual3D's Childen collection and improve Update performance.
  • Added IsCheckingChildrenForChangesDefaultValue static field to WpfModelVisual3DNode - used to set the default value of the IsCheckingChildrenForChanges field.
  • Fixed problems where wrong image was shown when multiple DrawingImage brushes or VisualBrshes were used.
  • Prevented throwing exception when unsupported type of Visual3D (for example UIElement3D) or Model3D was used in the scene.
  • Added Refresh method to Ab3d.DirectX.Material and its derived classes. This allows user to manually update the materials properties and its resources (textures are regenerated).
  • Fixed hit testing on some Viewport3D objects (usually when the Viewport3D was removed from visual tree and then added to DXViewportView).
  • Fixed using IsAutomaticallyUpdatingDXScene when the DXScene was created after the IsAutomaticallyUpdatingDXScene property was set.


The Ab3d.PowerToys library also got some fixes. The following is a full list of changes:

  • Fixed showing 3D lines that were created with IsVisible property set to false. When later the IsVisible is set to true, sometimes the 3D lines were not shown.
  • Fixed rendering 3D lines with arrows that were not rendered correctly under some circumstances.
  • Fixed reporting MouseLeave event that was sometimes not triggered when CustomEventsSourceElement was used.
  • Fixed changing BoxVisual3D and SphereVisual3D objects after Position is changed under some circumstances.
  • Added GetCameraMatrixes to BaseCamera that can calculate view and projection camera even if TargetViewport3D is not assigned to the camera.
  • Prevented throwing null reference exception in Dumper.Dump method when TextureCoordinates or Normals collection was null.
  • Prevented throwing null reference exception that could sometimes occur in MouseCameraControllerInfo when in XAML designer.


The wrapper for assimp importer was also improved. The new library should read some models more correctly (especially models from fbx files). Also, the AssimpWpfImporter class now supports IDisposable interface. This means that it can be now easily disposed to release all managed and unmanaged resources. The following is list of all the changes in this library:

  • AssimpWpfImporter now implements IDisposable and have new Dispose method to easily dispose all managed and unmanaged resources.
  • Improved reading transformations - in case the transformation matrix is identity, the Transform property is set to null; in case the matrix is a simple translation, a TranslateTransform3D is created; in case of simple scale a ScaleTransform3D is created; otherwise a MatrixTransform3D is created.
  • Improved reading 3D models that are stored in left coordinate system.
  • Added ForceConvertToRightHandedCoordinateSystem property to AssimpWpfImporter and AssimpWpfConverter.


I hope that you share the excitement of the new versions with me. And I promise to bring you more great news in the future versions.

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Ab3d.PowerToys | DXEngine

The first version of the new DirectX 11 rendering engine for .Net applications is available

by abenedik 4. November 2015 09:57

The first official version of the new DirectX 11 rendering engine for .Net applications is finally available. 

Car engine model shown with DXEngine (DirectX 11 rendering engine for .Net and WPF)

For example the model shown above is created from 891.840 triangles. The image is showing solid model with wireframe lines.

It is almost impossible to show such complex model with wireframe with WPF 3D rendering. It takes more than 13 minutes (!!!) to prepare the wireframe geometry and then WPF can render only 2 frames per second.

When the same model is shown with Ab3d.DXEngine, it is shown instantly (no need to prepare the wireframe geometry) and on my computer with NVidia 970 GTX it is easily shown with 60 frames per second (rendering takes only around 4 milliseconds – this theoretically means that it could render around 250 frames per second if WPF would not limit rendering to 60 frames).


This sample nicely shows the power of Ab3d.DXEngine and its advantage over WPF 3D especially when rendering wireframe models.

Another advantage is that Ab3d.DXEngine is by default using per-pixel lighting. This means that the lighting calculations are done for each rendered pixel and not per each vertex as in WPF 3D. This can produce much more accurate results that are best seen when using specular materials and SpotLights. The following screenshot shows the difference:

Comparison between WPF and Ab3d.DXEngine

Another great advantage of Ab3d.DXEngine is that it is not a closed box as WPF 3D. The engine has been designed with customizability in mind. This means that it is possible to change almost any part of the rendering pipeline. You can create your own shaders, create new effects and otherwise change the rendering process. 

In the following days I plan to release a sample application with live HLSL shader editor that immediately reflects any changes on the rendered 3D scene - I already have a working prototype but I need to improve and polish it a little bit. In the future I also want to improve documentation on how to provide new shaders and otherwise customize the engine.

And in my opinion the best feature of the new rendering engine is that it can render existing WPF 3D scenes created with using Viewport3D element. This means that you can very easily upgrade the existing applications into DirectX 11 rendered applications. It also means that you can work with a known API that already has a lot of documentation and samples.

This allows you to easily start with WPF 3D and later change to Ab3d.DXEngine. And this does not require rewriting the whole application from ground up (usually needed when rendering engine is changed) but need just a few small changes in the code. 

The first version of Ab3d.DXEngine is already a great leap forward in showing 3D graphics in .Net application. And it is also a great base platform for future improvements: I already have a prototype of dynamic shadows that will be added into the future version of the engine. I will also add support for environmental and bump mapping and many other great new features.


I still think that WPF 3D rendering can be used for many cases when you need to show 3D graphics in a business application. But when you need to show complex models, need to show many 3D lines or would like to customize the rendering process, then the Ab3d.DXEngine is a much better choice.


You are most welcome to try the Ab3d.DXEngine - it can be installed with other trial products - installer can be downloaded from the Downloads page.

Before trying the new engine I would like to inform you that it is recommended to try it with the latest version of Ab3d.PowerToys library (v7.2). The engine also works with older version of Ab3d.PowerToys but some features might not work well - see DXEngine help file for more info. You can use the latest version from the trial installer (it will not overwrite your commercial version if you have it).


Let’s complete this blog post with another great news: in November 2015 the Ab3d.DXEngine is available with 20% launch discount. And what is more, if you are our existing customer with valid updates subscription for Ab3d.PowerToys library, you can get an even bigger 30% discount for Ab3d.DXEninge – just write me an email and I will send you the discount code.