CyArk Releases New Online 3D Viewer

Interact with our 3D point clouds and models right in your browser!

by Landon Silla
July 31, 2012
With the major advancements in browser technologies in the past few years, CyArk has been working on a brand new Online 3D Viewer to help serve our mission of providing realistic, meaningful, useful, and interactive content to our viewers. This new viewer comes as a replacement (not just an update) to our previous viewer and the improvements are significant. We've rewritten the code from the ground-up. We are still able to display both point clouds and models/meshes. The geometry count limit has been increased in most cases as well, meaning we are able to display more points and more triangles, providing more detail and information from the original data. The loading speed of the object depends on the speed of your Internet connection and the performance capabilities of your computer. The main difference between the new and old viewers is that we are now able to display these objects in the browser, a feat we were not capable of doing previously. We have also improved the interface significantly to help make using our viewer more easy and fun.

This 3D Viewer is developed using a new technology, WebGL. We also used the Three.js library to aid in development. Because this is such a new technology, you will need to use recent versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple's Safari. Internet Explorer is not supported, however you can install the Chrome Frame plug-in in Internet Explorer with just a few clicks and it will work there as well. We are sorry about this inconvenience, however we highly recommend installing Chrome Frame if you are an IE user. Our frequent users will know that this 3D Viewer is replacing a Java Viewer that we've had for a number of years.

If you haven't already, you can see our viewer in action to display point clouds as well as mesh models.


We have designed the viewer to be both fun and highly useful. There are a handful of features to help you better interact with the model. You can:
• orbit around the center of the object by simply clicking and dragging
• use your scroll wheel to zoom in and out
• use your right-click and drag to pan the object around your browser

There are 4 navigation buttons on the top left of the browser that will:
• reset the view to the original settings
• allow you to pick a new centroid
• zoom in
• zoom out

Below that is the View Section. Here, you can:
• toggle between color/intensity for point clouds
• toggle wireframe/phototextured/flat color for models (Note: some of these options are not provided if there is no corresponding data for that object)
• select different preset views for your object (front, left, right, back, top, and bottom)

The Camera Section allows you to toggle between:
• perspective view
• orthographic view

And finally there's the Tools Section, which allows you to:
• measure by toggling to measure mode and clicking two points/vertices to obtain the distance
• display/hide the bounding box (by default the bounding box is displayed).
The bounding box is a green cube with a red circle around it. You can drag any of the green "handles" (the spheres) to expand or contract the bounding box. You can also then drag the red "handle" to rotate the bounding box around the vertical axis. This is highly useful for cutting sections through the data.

Edit: For Mac Safari users, WebGL is disabled by Default (the Windows version of Safari does not yet support WebGL). To enable it you should follow these instructions:
(1) Open Safari and in the Safari menu select Preferences
(2) Click Advanced tab in the Preferences window
(3) At the bottom of the window check the "Show Develop menu in menu bar" checkbox
(4) Open the Develop menu in the menu bar and select Enable WebGL


We are really proud of our newest member of the suite of tools CyArk provides, as always, for no cost. And we really love it when our users contact us with feedback on these tools, good or bad. Our goal is to provide useful tools that allow users to interact with the data in meaningful ways. If you are having difficulty using the viewer, if you have a suggestion about what we can add, or if you have a general complaint, please don't hesitate to contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Thanks, and enjoy our new Online 3D Viewer!

Mount Rushmore 3D model in the new Online 3D Viewer