Car Configurator - 3DCar Software Engineering Goals Disclosed (Inside Information)

Aug 24


Bogdan Deaky

Bogdan Deaky

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3DCar(TM) was the first fully interactive 3D car configurator (the development was started in 2005, when even 2D car configurators were very rare). This article discloses the goals pursued by the software engineering process. 3DCar(TM) was disclosed to public only a short period ago on YouTube.

These days,Car Configurator - 3DCar Software Engineering Goals Disclosed (Inside Information) Articles the utility of a car configurator is well-known: the configurator is an efficient tool used in the sales process and helps the client in faster choosing his favored configuration, leading him to the right dealers. It has an important contribution to the marketing policies of manufacturers and dealers world-wide. 3D car configurators are new, and should be developed according to a number of quality rules.

This article discloses the goals pursued by the software engineering process of 3DCar(TM), one of the earliest (probably the very first) completely interactive 3D car configurators, a endeavor started in 2005 by Bluemind Software, at a moment in time when even 2D car configurators were a rarity. The 3DCar(TM) car configurator was disclosed to public only a short period ago on YouTube!

Bluemind Software, the company which develops 3DCar(TM) has granted the author the permission to make this information known, because he was the architect of the 3DCar idea and also because the publicity may benefit them and the car configurator.

The persued software system engineering goals, when developing the 3D car configurator, were (and still are):

  • easy and fast usage

  • (fast application loading, destination based ergonomics criteria, the colour changes and 3D options are displayed very fast)
  • stability

  • (the chosen technology is dependable for all the targeted platforms)
  • maximize the interactivity of users with the car

  • (the client establishes a strong bound with the vehicle by directly exploring numerous features and acting on its interactive parts)
  • make itself available on several means of presentation

  • (Internet, CDs/DVDs, local PC application, touch-screens, sales area plasma screens etc)
  • expandability, flexibility

  • (easily add new software modules packed with new features, easy replacing of present modules with enhanced ones, adding new 3D models as easy (and therefore cheap) as possible)
  • boost exposure by offering higher performance (for high polygon count) with lower system requirements

  • (the application runs well even on older systems - this is achieved by: 1) optimization of 3D models and code 2) automatic adaptation by dropping of features with high system necessities to keep it running on older systems)
  • interfacing with the existing sales system and also including marketing tools

  • (ability to order, store client preferences, track the sales process, direct advertising areas, "tell a friend" tool etc)

At the time the project was started, technology for browser embedding was pretty unstable, caused considerable performance losses and could not sustain the high interactivity of such a complicated application.

Other solutions that appeared meanwhile and used a variety of technologies for browser embedding, used to display a lot of blue-screens and crash the browsers or the complete operating system. 3DCar uses a web-start ability (like some of the Java applications use) for usage with browsers. This assures very good performance and allows it to display models consisting of over 1 million triangles even on 5-6 year old PCs.

Nonetheless, new technologies were constantly monitored and, finally, a robust and fitting solution seems to have appeared (more on this in a future article).

As one can notice, following these goals means to develop a quality software system (in our case, a car configurator) which functions correctly on a variety of presentation platforms, is easy to understand and use to the end-user and is very performant, thus also lowering the costs of the exploitation platforms. The author believes that following these goals is mandatory for all software applications developed.

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