WebGL-based visualizer for 3D geometries and scenes


License
MIT
Install
pip install meshcat==0.2.0

Documentation

meshcat-python: Python Bindings to the MeshCat WebGL viewer

https://travis-ci.org/rdeits/meshcat-python.svg?branch=master

MeshCat is a remotely-controllable 3D viewer, built on top of three.js. The viewer contains a tree of objects and transformations (i.e. a scene graph) and allows those objects and transformations to be added and manipulated with simple commands. This makes it easy to create 3D visualizations of geometries, mechanisms, and robots.

The MeshCat architecture is based on the model used by Jupyter:

  • The viewer itself runs entirely in the browser, with no external dependencies
  • The MeshCat server communicates with the viewer via WebSockets
  • Your code can use the meshcat python libraries or communicate directly with the server through its ZeroMQ socket.

Installation

Using pip:

pip install meshcat

From source:

git clone https://github.com/rdeits/meshcat-python
git submodule update --init --recursive
cd meshcat-python
python setup.py install

You will need the ZeroMQ libraries installed on your system:

Ubuntu/Debian:

apt-get install libzmq3-dev

Homebrew:

brew install zmq

Usage

For examples of interactive usage, see demo.ipynb

Under the Hood

Starting a Server

If you want to run your own meshcat server (for example, to communicate with the viewer over ZeroMQ from another language), all you need to do is run:

meshcat-server

The server will choose an available ZeroMQ URL and print that URL over stdout. If you want to specify a URL, just do:

meshcat-server --zmq-url=<your URL>

You can also instruct the server to open a browser window with:

meshcat-server --open

Protocol

All communication with the meshcat server happens over the ZMQ socket. Some commands consist of multiple ZMQ frames.

ZMQ frames: ["url"]
Action: Request URL
Response: The web URL for the server. Open this URL in your browser to see the 3D scene.

ZMQ frames: ["wait"]
Action: Wait for a browser to connect
Response: "ok" when a brower has connected to the server. This is useful in scripts to block execution until geometry can actually be displayed.

ZMQ frames: ["set_object", "/slash/separated/path", data]
Action: Set the object at the given path. data is a MsgPack-encoded dictionary, described below.
Response: "ok"

ZMQ frames: ["set_transform", "/slash/separated/path", data]
Action: Set the transform of the object at the given path. There does not need to be any geometry at that path yet, so set_transform and set_object can happen in any order. data is a MsgPack-encoded dictionary, described below.
Response: "ok"

ZMQ frames: ["delete", "/slash/separated/path", data]
Action: Delete the object at the given path. data is a MsgPack-encoded dictionary, described below.
Response: "ok"

set_object data format

{
    "type": "set_object",
    "path": "/slash/separated/path",  // the path of the object
    "object": <three.js JSON>
}

The format of the object field is exactly the built-in JSON serialization format from three.js (note that we use the JSON structure, but actually use msgpack for the encoding due to its much better performance). For examples of the JSON structure, see the three.js wiki .

Note on redundancy
The type and path fields are duplicated: they are sent once in the first two ZeroMQ frames and once inside the MsgPack-encoded data. This is intentional and makes it easier for the server to handle messages without unpacking them fully.

set_transform data format

{
    "type": "set_transform",
    "path": "/slash/separated/path",
    "matrix": [1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1]
}

The format of the matrix in a set_transform command is a column-major homogeneous transformation matrix.

delete data format

{
    "type": "delete",
    "path", "/slash/separated/path"
}

Examples

Creating a box at path /meshcat/box

{
    "type": "set_object",
    "path": "/meshcat/box",
    "object": {
        "metadata": {"type": "Object", "version": 4.5},
        "geometries": [{"depth": 0.5,
                        "height": 0.5,
                        "type": "BoxGeometry",
                        "uuid": "fbafc3d6-18f8-11e8-b16e-f8b156fe4628",
                        "width": 0.5}],
        "materials": [{"color": 16777215,
                       "reflectivity": 0.5,
                       "type": "MeshPhongMaterial",
                       "uuid": "e3c21698-18f8-11e8-b16e-f8b156fe4628"}],
        "object": {"geometry": "fbafc3d6-18f8-11e8-b16e-f8b156fe4628",
                   "material": "e3c21698-18f8-11e8-b16e-f8b156fe4628",
                   "matrix": [1.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0],
                   "type": "Mesh",
                   "uuid": "fbafc3d7-18f8-11e8-b16e-f8b156fe4628"}},
}

Translating that box by the vector [2, 3, 4]:

{
    "type": "set_transform",
    "path": "/meshcat/box",
    "matrix": [1.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 1.0]
}

Packing Arrays

Msgpack's default behavior is not ideal for packing large contiguous arrays (it inserts a type code before every element). For faster transfer of large pointclouds and meshes, msgpack Ext codes are available for several types of arrays. For the full list, see https://github.com/kawanet/msgpack-lite#extension-types . The meshcat Python bindings will automatically use these Ext types for numpy array inputs.