Simulate plants: a client-server graphic approach

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Giuliano Vitali, Eugenio Magnanini, Enrico Denti
Proceedings of AGRO 2010 - the XI ESA Congress, Montpellier, France, pages 913-914
Pure Impressions, Montpellier, France
September 2010

Recently the sector of Functional Structural Plant Modeling (FSPM) has significatively grown (AA.VV., 2004,2007) attracting the attention of researchers from several branches of biological sciences. Objective of FSP Modelers is using a morphological characterization to improve plant eco-physiological modeling. In some case they move from pure mathematical and geometrical simulators used in animation movies and landscape design, in other cases they are to interpretate external characters of a plant. Several tools has been developed, some freely downloadable, others with a commercial mean. Even when they are available at a collaborative level, the plant simulating engine is often embedded with graphics and few efforts has been made to distinguish the task of making a plant from that of representing it on a screen which also means define a standard to code plants. Communicating a virtual plant between programs with different purposes not only allow for a better use of computer resourses but could allow for plants interchange between researchers.
The development of the project required to define and reach several objectives, as the possibility to work on a virtual-plant project at a team level, with different skillness and competencies, and to define a standard language to represent plant structure separated from the geometrical features. Even if the first objective was fullfilled, it seems to require a powerful server when more clients are run at same time, as in web-games. About the second it is probably a former step toward a proposal for an open format for interchange plants at structural level. The simulator, is at present very simple and is still lacking a radiative environment. Java3D allows for self-shading but not for reciprocal shading. Other features which could be important for realistic rendering is physical collisions and gravity, both important to improve space occupation of elements parts in light and other atmospheric interactions. From the other side, the system is per se, already able to simulate a number of plants.

keywordsvirtual plant, modeling, java, client-server

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