The source code to 3D Nature’s Visual Nature Studio 3 for Windows, as well as other legacy source code and a variety of utilities is now available on GitHub.
We will continue to release additional pieces of source as they are vetted and curated. Check the website download page for details.
Many have been concerned with how quiet things are in 3D Nature land. We’re here, doing what we’ve always done, making sure stuff works, taking care of customers, helping you use 3D Nature products and all. But not much exciting has happened in the last few years.
Let me refresh your memory for a moment on the history of 3D Nature. You can read more about it here ( https://3dnature.com/about/company-history/ ).
3D Nature has long been a very small group of people. In the beginning it was Gary, then Gary and Chris, then Jamie came in, and Mindy and later Frank and David and Adrienne and Holly and Michelle worked for 3D Nature. Scott Cherba and Adam Hauldren also did various things for us, though they never worked out of our Colorado office.
Around 2008, when we released the best VNS ever, VNS 3, the economy took a terrible tumble. Oddly, every major version of VNS has heralded a dramatic calamity and usually an economic downturn. VNS 1 was released days before September 11, 2001. VNS 2 predated the invasion of Iraq and VNS 3, the biggest VNS update ever, presaged the biggest worldwide economic recession in decades.
I’d like to say that a coalition of world leaders from the UN banded together to beg us not to develop VNS 4 for the safety of the world, but the truth is the last hiccup pretty much did in our industry, our product, our company and one of our developers. While we continued to maintain VNS and support our customers in 2009 and 2010, we all had to take other employment as well. Chris and Mindy went on to focus on their company, AlphaPixel, Gary dove into his artistic career, and a few of you may know that Frank worked for a time helping Mike Childs make Global Mapper great. But in the fall of 2010, the world lost Frank Weed. We sorely miss him, and it left us in the situation of missing one critical developer who was the only person who had ever maintained certain parts of our product.
We’ve continued to keep the product working for you guys, and have released periodic updates to fix what real bugs have cropped up. VNS 3 is still an awesome product. Over the past few years, Chris and Mindy have become the main face and force of 3D Nature that you’ve had contact with. Behind the scenes, Gary took time away from his artistic passion to keep the business operating and fix the hard bugs people came across in VNS 3.
Today we’re announcing some pretty big changes. The owners of 3D Nature have unanimously voted to sell the assets of 3D Nature to Chris and Mindy’s company, AlphaPixel. Our plan is to take steps to improve the outcome for you, our customers and ensure your ability to use 3D Nature products into the future. There are several big steps to that process.
First, let us assure you, that VNS will continue to be sold and supported, in the same way and by the same people you are used to working with. All of the same email addresses, phone numbers and websites will continue to put you in touch with us.
Secondly, we are releasing the current VNS 3 source code (and several other 3D Nature-developed and even AlphaPixel-developed tools relating to 3D Nature) as Open Source, under the OpenSceneGraph Public License, a modified version of the GNU LGPL. For those nuanced in Open Source licensing, this is more of a Free-as-in-Speech than a Free-as-in-Beer action. We don’t think many will personally want to work on the code (it’s hard!), built it, or make binary releases, and AlphaPixel intends to still sell commercial licenses to VNS 3. We believe people will still want to purchase licenses from us in order to get support and support those who provide it. This Open Source release is primarily to ensure and assure that if something more were to happen to the remaining 3D Nature developers, that VNS will not be lost forever. Someone else could always take ownership of it and maintain and develop it if they were motivated.
Finally, AlphaPixel intends to update the VNS code to resolve non-critical but bothersome deficiencies that currently exist relating to the license keys, the VERY old compiler used to build VNS 3 (Visual C++ 2005), and the lack of a 64-bit version of VNS.
We hope these actions will show our honest intent to support you, our loyal and long-time customers and protect your monetary and time investment in 3D Nature’s products, and we hope we have your backing and support in these endeavors.
What happens to VNS from there is up to you, our customers, and your needs. AlphaPixel has always made our living developing custom imaging, 3D and GIS tools for our clients, so if there’s something specific you’d like to see developed, please get in touch with us and let us know.
Co-Founder, AlphaPixel LLC
Co-Founder, 3D Nature LLC