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Frequently Asked Questions


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How stable is it?
DutchPIPE has been running on dutchpipe.org now for over a year, and is quite stable: the server can run for weeks on end. It is beta software as it's still not finished and polished in a way we'd like.

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What browsers are supported?
The following web browser versions are supported 100%: Firefox 1 and 2, Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Opera 9 are Safari 3.

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I don't get the name
DutchPIPE stands for "Dutchman's Persistent Interactive Page Environments". It was made by a Dutchman, Lennert Stock. Objects created by http requests continue to exist after the request has been answered (persistence). It makes a lot of interaction possible. It turns ordinary pages into "environments".

There's also a flower which is called the Dutchman's Pipe. The logo is both an abstraction of the flower and of the social aspect that comes with DutchPIPE enabled sites.

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Is DutchPIPE free/open source?
DutchPIPE is distributed under a standard MIT-style license. With BSD-licenses, these licenses are considered in the open source community to offer most freedom to both non-commercial and commercial users. We use an established license, used by respected open source projects, so DutchPIPE can be easily used without licensing issues.

If you'd like to see this project flourish, please support us by donating any amount with your credit card or PayPal account, using the PayPal button (read about Transaction Fees).

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Can it be used with existing software (CMS, bulletin boards, etc.)?
Yes, by simply inserting a single javascript in the header of each page. DutchPIPE will then generate an object for each page and each user. We are also planning a DutchPIPE proxy, so you could for instance surf to cnn.com through it, have DutchPIPE stuff attached to each page, and extend your "universe" to anywhere this way.

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Can it be used between DutchPIPE enabled sites?
That is, can DutchPIPE users on different sites communicate with eachother? Not yet, but it will be. The system allows for it, but it hasn't been built on top of it yet.

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How many resources does it use?
The AJAX/DOM engine is surprisingly light and "clean". Still, we need to explore scalability, as a DutchPIPE page strains a server more than a normal page will do, certainly with a lot of users. So far we tested on dutchpipe.org with 30 simultaneous users (simulating a site with 1.3 million page views per month), and it ran just as smoothly as with 1 user. dutchpipe.org uses on average just over 4MB of memory at the time of writing. We took great care to preserve the normal page concept and usability, because we believe in established cognitive mechanisms. However, this depends on what you make with it, if you make more game-like or 3d-like environments, you're probably aiming at people who want a richer interface experience. On the server end, you'll find the core PHP framework and library is very clean, although in places hacky or unfinished in beta state. Some parts and object interfaces will certainly change, because we haven't implemented all we envisioned yet, we're learning on the fly and we're no longer happy with what we drafted earlier. The code is written using a combination of PHP's PEAR Coding Guidelines and the PHP Coding Standard (based on the C++ Coding Standard). Code is documented using PHPDoc, which is based on Sun Javadoc.

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What kind of graphical capabilities does it have?
Out of the box, DutchPIPE offers modest graphical possiblities. With the DOM/AJAX engine, you can add, delete or update page elements in the user's browser. We currently have something very basic at the bottom of the page going on where all the objects it contains are floated to the left. There are some experiments going on with moving objects on pages. We'll slowly start adding possiblities, such as basic animation (see next question), but most of it will be left to you to built on top of DutchPIPE. DutchPIPE.org is just one type of (basic) interface, and should be seen as just an example. Over time, there will be more graphical possibities.

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...and can I make some kind of 3D world with it?
DutchPIPE doesn't do that out of the box, we're not sure if and when we'll do it, but we'll share our initial ideas about this, so you have a starting point if you want to built it yourself on top of DutchPIPE. The easiest way to do this is with "clever" page backgrounds, which suggest a 3D landscape, but are static (and actualy 2D) and always have the same horizon (to begin with, to keep it simple). With dragable avatars and objects as seen in this experiment they should appear to move in the landscape. Then you can start to make object graphics of different sizes, so if an object is dragged to the top of the page, its graphic is replaced by a smaller version.

Likewise, you can replace graphical elements, for instance to make an avatar smile, or to perform any action (with GIFs, the avatar would first be represented by avatar.gif, then by avatar_smile_anim.gif, to return to avatar.gif). To combine the possiblities, you'll find it quickly needs a lot of graphics and gets complex. Also, transparency options for PNG graphics are not supported well by IE6, meaning you'll never be able to properly anti-alias the objects that move over a background.

It's important to know that although we'll be adding more graphical options, DutchPIPE doesn't try or aim to be "Second Life", that's better done with one of the open source true 3D environment frameworks which require special client software. DutchPIPE aims to bring virtual environments to web pages, instead of bringing them to web browers trying to simulate the Second Lifes of this world. There's a difference here.

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