The second two Atmosphere modules are Browser and Community Server. Browser is a plug-in that works with either Netscape or Internet Explorer. The 5mb plug-in is free, and must be downloaded before a user can view Atmosphere content. Atmosphere Community Server is an Adobe-sponsored chat server that provides users with text-based chat, for avatar applications, for example.
Though 3D worlds might seem like a departure for Adobe, Asako Yoshimura, senior product manager for Atmosphere, demurs. She says that the new product is of a piece with other Adobe publishing tools like InDesign, with which users collect and edit disparate elements such as text and graphics. The company, Yoshimura says, simply views Web 3D as the next big publishing platform. "It's not like we're making a quantum leap. It's a natural progression."
The beta version of Atmosphere shipped this spring, and Version 1.0 is scheduled to ship this summer. Currently, the Windows version only is available, but Adobe expects to ship a Mac OS 9-compatible beta in the near future (Mac OS X comes later). Builder requires a Pentium-based machine or better, Windows 98/2000/ME, and 64mb of RAM. A price for Builder has yet to be determined. (Adobe Systems; www.adobe.com)-Jenny Donelan