Open Asset Import Library matures beyond expectations

Open Asset Import Library matures beyond expectations

Sometimes important news manage to completely go off public radar. This time it's the release of Open Asset Import Library 3.0 which delivers tools for general-purpose 3D model conversion.

Apart from various internal improvements, the new release provides exporting to COLLADA, OBJ, PLY and STL (exporting is a whole new feature, actually). It also adds importing of XGL/ZGL, experimental importing of M3, reworked Ogre XML import, and, what's even more interesting, importing of IFC files.

As you can see, Assimp (official short name of the library) is now embracing “serious” industrial file formats after several years of focusing on gamedev industry. LGW asked Alexander Gessler, lead developer of Assimp, about that. Here is what he replied:

In the beginning, Assimp aimed at hobbyist game devs. Reading 3ds, obj, x and a few game-specific formats was sufficient to make this group happy.

Over the years, the project grew more popular — today whenever someone asks for a FOSS library to read 3D models, they are usually pointed at Assimp. This means a lot more people (especially from the open source scene) use the library.

The demand for supporting “the big formats” came up in the past two years, and we found that Assimp already had the infrastructure to handle these as well. This is how Collada, Blend (and also the upcoming FBX support) came to life.

The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) format, which we support since 3.0, falls in another category: it stores semantic CAD data and no polygonal geometry, so Assimp generates geometry during loading.

Meanwhile Alexander Gessler continues working on FBX importing for Blender via Assimp to improve interoperability of the famous 3D modeling/animation package. Support for importing FBX files literally means being able to read the files used by Autodesk products for exchanging data.

So far the importer reads ASCII FBX files in 2012 and 2013 formats. Static data is already OK, so animation support is what's currently in the focus.

FBX file imported to Blender

FBX file imported to Blender via the Open Asset Import Library

The source code is in the Bratwurst branch, and so far Graphicall builds seem to skip the building of support for Assimp. The patched version of the library that reads FBX files is over at Github, you'll need it instead of the stock v3.0 release, if you feel adventurous.

Blender won't be the first big project making (optional) use of the library. Here are some of the others:

  • Nokia's Qt5 in its Quick3D component;
  • Crystal Space 3D;
  • OpenFrameworks and its Assimp add-on.

For tracking the progress we recommend visiting the GSoC status page.

Assimp is generally available as a Windows installer and an archive with source code. Hardware-accelerated viewers using the library are part of the package.

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4 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Assimp! HAH! Wonderful. Now the next time someone complains over ‘GIMP’ I’ll just say “Hey, it could be worse …” =P (but in all seriousness, cool project)

  2. I guess that in 20-30 years when gimp introduces basic 3d support then they will use ‘ASSGIMP’ for import. which will undoubtedly confuse the users because most will think to themselves, ASSGIMP? I have been using ASSGIMP the whole time. ASSGIMP is not a new feature.

  3. Alexandre Prokoudine 23 July 2012 at 11:59 am

    I should’ve known you wouldn’t miss the chance to mock it :)

  4. attention to detail is the true mark of an artist! :-)