Axel’s motion-tools will be familiar to content-developers who compose keyframe-animations in programs such as Adobe LiveMotion and Macromedia Flash. There is also a Record mode, which automatically generates keyframes when you move objects around in the layout views. It’s easy to use, but creates a jumble of keyframes that needlessly bloats your Web-file size. But Axel provides tools that present interactivity clearly: sensors handle all the ways a user can manipulate an object, such as mouse-clicks, rollovers, and keyboard-entries; each sensor’s reactions trigger a response, such as changing an object’s parameters or playing an animation, sound, or movie. The Interaction Editor window displays a visual schematic of all a scene’s sensor-reaction relationships, and you can edit each relationship easily by dragging connection-handles between objects. All the work that goes into creating 3D Web-content is pointless unless there’s an easy way to publish it, and Axel provides one. When you save your entire 3D scene as an Axel stream file (with a .axs extension), the program automatically exports the correct HTML code to a new or existing HTML page. It can also write the code necessary for rendering windowless 3D content. This is ideal for creating a Web site with a virtual human guide, for example. A 3D-animator can work on the character and then save it to render as a windowless element in an HTML layout. For a site-visitor, watching the final scene in a browser requires downloading the free, 700K Axel Player plug-in. The plug-in supports a wide range of browsers available for both the Mac and Windows PCs, including the latest OS X versions of Internet Explorer, Netscape 6, iCab, and OmniWeb, as well as Opera and AOL for OS 9.2. However, the added step of manually installing a player is inconvenient. A Download Estimate Manager gives the approximate transfer times of your final file, at various connection-speeds. Previewing in browsers is also convenient. Axel generates a customizable menu after scanning your hard-drive for all installed versions of supported browsers. Selecting one from the menu launches the browser automatically and plays the Web file as the site visitor will see it. A choice of features
For 3D-artists seeking a new medium, and for Web-content developers looking to expand their repertoire, Axel offers an intuitive interface for creating interactivity.