Ab4d.SharpEngine v1.0 published

by abenedik 8. December 2023 11:30

Ab4d.SharpEngine logo

Ab4d.SharpEngine v1.0 has been published!

The new cross-platform 3D rendering engine is ready for apps that work on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS. The engine uses Vulkan, which is a next generation graphics API that provides high-efficiency, cross-platform access to modern GPUs. The engine is also built by using the latest .Net technologies like Numerics and harware intrinsics. The combination of Vulkan and highly optimized .Net code provides super fast rendering. Based on long-time experience with Ab3d.PowerToys and Ab3d.DXEngine I have designed the API for the new engine to be very easy to use. Especially users of the Ab3d.PowerToys and Ab3d.DXEngine libraries should feel right at home.

The new engine can work on almost all devices that support .Net runtime. It can run on high end PCs and tiny Rasberry PI computers (with full hardware accelerated graphics). By using a software rendering LLVM pipe, the engine can also run on systems without a graphics card (for example, a web server, virtual machine or tiny embedded device). This provides many new very interesting options, for example, showing 3D graphics on a display that controls a CNC machine and runs on a Rasberry PI or some other embedded device. See here and here for more info.

The Ab4d.SharpEngine can be integrated into almost any UI framework. The following UI frameworks are currently supported: WPF, WinUI 3, Avalonia, MAUI, SDL / Glfw, LinuxFramebuffer. Better support for WinForms is coming soon. In all other UI framework it is also possible to render to an offscreen texture and than show that as a bitmap. Another proof that the engine is meant for any 3D developer is also that the engine supports any 3D coordinate system (y-up or z-up; left or right-handed; see the second screenshot below). What is more, the engine's main assembly, Ab4d.SharpEnine, does not have any third-party dependencies. To be able to provide great cross-platform capabilities, the engine even have a build-in png reader and writer, so you do not need to use platform specific bitmap libraries.

The first version of Ab4d.SharpEngine still lacks some of the features from Ab3d.PowerToys and Ab3d.DXEngine. But it should already have all the tools to create great apps with 3D graphics. Here are some of the screenshots:

3D model from fbx file with shown edge lines
Custom 3D coordinate system with Ab3d.SharpEngine
Ab4d.SharpEngine in an Avalonia UI application on macOS (Input events sample)
Ab4d.SharpEngine in an Avalonia application on Ubuntu Linux (3D lines sample)
Ab4d.SharpEngine in a generic SDL / Glfw application on Rasberry PI 4

The easiest way to start exploring the new engine is by checking the samples project that is hosted on GitHub: https://github.com/ab4d/Ab4d.SharpEngine.Samples. Note that some of the existing samples will be improved in the following days and many new samples are planned to be added.

The Ab4d.SharpEngine is distributed only by NuGet packages and cannot be installed by using a commercial version installer (as it was possible with other products). To use the engine it needs to be activated by calling the SetLicense method. The samples come with a special license that can be used only by the samples. To use the engine in your applications, you will need to get a trial license from ab4d.com/trial (no email is required) or purchase a commercial license and then activate the commercial license.

The purchase options provide the standard "Single developer", "Team developer", "Site developer" and "Corporate developer" options that define how many developers are allowed to use the library. The standard license allows developing applications for Windows, Linux and macOS - it is called a "Desktop developer" license. To develop apps for mobile devices (Android and iOS) an additional "Mobile developer" license is required. With a standard commercial license you are allowed to use the Ab4d.SharpEngin to create applications for uses that do not have the Ab4d.SharpEngine license. But if you want to create a commercial library that uses Ab4d.SharpEngine, then a new "SDK license" is required. Contact us for more information.

To celebrate the launch, there is a 20% discount for all Ab4d.SharpEngine licenses. The discount is valid until January 7th, 2024.

I know that some of the Ab3d.PowerToys and Ab3d.DXEngine users did not look at the development of a new engine with a lot of gratitude. That development meant that less time was dedicated to the existing engines. I admit that lately not a lot of work has been done for other libraries. But this will change now. Next week, a new maintenance version of Ab3d.PowerToys and Ab3d.DXEngine will be published. That version will have some fixes and smaller improvements already implemented in the last few months.

What is more, for Q1 2024 I plan to release a new major version of the Ab3d.PowerToys and Ab3d.DXEngine. The following are planned new features:

  • Add support for Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) that will significantly improve the visual quality.
  • Add new options to render pixels and point clouds (world-size pixels in addition to screen-size; render circular pixels or pixels with custom textures).
  • Add support for rendering 3D lines and line segments to an object ID bitmap (can be used for faster line hit testing).
  • Add options to copy only part of the object ID bitmap from GPU memory to CPU memory - this would make checking for hit objects much faster.
  • Trying to improve the performance of calculating edge lines by using oct-tree.

For 2024, I would also like to introduce a new product that would allow importing 3D models from STEP and IGES file formats that are commonly used by CAD applications. Later, there would also be improved support for geometric and surface modeling that is based on mathematical surfaces and not triangles.

So, it looks like 2024 will be another very busy year.

Please try the new Ab4d.SharpEngine. I really hope you will like it and that it will help you build awesome apps and bring 3D graphics "where no 3D graphics has gone before" (adapted from).

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