Adobe has released a public beta of Adobe Atmosphere, a new tool for Web authoring, viewing and interacting with 3D environments online.

The product has been developed for designers trying to build 3D worlds. The Windows beta is available for download now, and a Mac version will be released in the summer.

Like the former Metacreations' Metastream technology, and the Intel-integrating Shockwave player currently under development by Macromedia, Adobe Atmosphere is aimed at e-commerce site builders and online animators.

3D animation The product includes the Viewpoint Media Player, which provides object display and animation capabilities. The player is already used by Sony and Nike to provide the 3D elements on their Web sites.

Bruce Damer, principal of DigitalSpace Corporation, said: "Adobe is known for delivering innovative tools that enable designers to take their creativity to new heights. Now, Adobe Atmosphere adds an entirely new dimension to the Web experience - the third dimension."

Atmosphere-built worlds can be hosted on any server, and integrate URL connectivity, texture linking and sound - it also supports JavaScript. It will import graphics built in a variety of 3D programs, including Viewpoint, Curious Labs, 3D Studio Max and Maya.

Atmosphere also works well with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, through the import of the standard Web-graphics file formats JPEG, GIF and PNG.