Bodily Functions

By now, you know enough about ECMAScript to start creating VRML Script nodes that perform useful operations. This tutorial will take you through the general structure of a VRML script, explaining how it all works and fits together. By the end, you should be able to produce simple scripts of your own! Which is nice…

Script Layout

The first thing we’re going to look at is the layout of a VRML script. You’ve already seen the Script node, and you know a bit about ECMAScript, so there should be no problems here. A VRML script basically consists of a set of functions, each of which execute at specific times. All the functions in the script have access to the fields and events defined in the Script node. url "javascript: function initialize() { // initialisation code } function shutdown() { // shutdown code } function eventsProcessed() { // event handling code } " Above is the general sort of structure you have in a normal script. Let’s now take a look at some of the functions you will have in your scripts.

Startup and Shutdown

First of all, we’ll take a look at the initialize() function. This is called as soon as the world is loaded, before it is displayed. The world is displayed when it has finished executing. The function is declared as shown below: function initialize() { // initialization code } The statements you want to execute on startup go inside the function body, instead of the comment.

To go with the initialize() function, there is a shutdown() function. This is executed when the script is shut down, so when the browser is closed or when another URL is loaded. function shutdown() { // shutdown code } This is useful for clearing up any mess that the script may have left behind it. You don’t really need to use it very often though, only when you start doing quite complex things.

Event Handling

Now we get to the really useful bit, the event handlers. Your scripts will almost always react to the outside world, by receiving eventIns from other nodes. You need some code that is executed when these events are received. These are your event handler functions. Let’s have a little example to see how this works. Script { eventIn SFTime touchTime url "javascript: function touchTime (value, time) { // event handler code } " } In this example, you can see that your event handlers have the same name as the eventIns that they correspond to. They have two parameters, which you can give whatever name you want, but I’ve used value and time. value is the value of the event received, and time is the timestamp of the event. In the example above, when a touchTime event is received, the code in the touchTime function is executed. All very simple.

eventsProcessed and eventOuts

There are a couple more things to cover. Firstly, the eventsProcessed() function is another standard function. This is called after a set of events have been processed. How often this happens is browser- dependent, unfortunately. It can be after every event, or less often. In general, if you have a calculation that doesn’t need to be performed for every event, put it in here. function eventsProcessed() { // post-event handler code } Just the one more thing, and that is how do we send events in ECMAScript? It’s very, very easy, even compared to the rest of this tutorial. Script { eventOut SFInt32 choice url "javascript: function initialize() { choice = 2; } " } To send an eventOut, simply assign a value to the name of the eventOut. It’s amazingly easy. This is why I teach you ECMAScript first, Java is slightly more complex.

Function Dysfunction

Well, that’s covered the basic setup of a VRML script. I’ve shown you the functions you can use to create your scripts, and govern how they behave. The example for this tutorial and its code show you how these all work together. When the script starts, its initialize() function is executed, which writes a message to the console and the string “Ready…” to the Text node. When you click on the TouchSensor, it sends an event to the script, executing the touchTime() function. This writes the count of the number of touchTime events received to a temporary string, with a message to the console. The eventsProcessed writes the number of times it has been called into the temporary string, which is then output to the Text node. Therefore, each time the eventsProcessed() function executes, the text in the world is updated. If eventsProcessed is called after every touchTime(), the numbers will the same, otherwise they will be different, and you may have to click more than once to update the display. This shows how your browser deals with eventsProcessed().

NOTE: The example above uses the print() function to print to the VRML console. However, not all VRML browsers support this function. If you have problems, try this alternative example and code. Also, please mail me and tell me which browser you are using and the error it reports. Thanks!

Next time out, we’re going to cover the relationship between VRML and ECMAScript types. We’re going to need a bit of an introduction to objects as well. See you there!