COLLADA Conformance Testing: Toward a More Efficient Content Pipeline

A clear message emanating from the 3D content creation community these days is that the plethora of content creation tools, no matter how they are deployed, or for what 3D graphics market they are intended, do not interface seamlessly in a content pipeline. However, today’s content rich world increasingly demands such a seamless integration of tools but such a highly functioning content pipeline is still not a reality in practice. Relying on one or two proprietary standards may suffice near term to achieve an artist’s or engineer’s goals, but is not likely sustainable for all the reasons that make large corporate “standards” difficult to adopt and adhere to long term. What can stand the test of time is a robust content interchange standard, accessible in a way possible for implementers to take advantage of to achieve maximum pipeline efficiency. COLLADA offers this and the Khronos Group is making the COLLADA 1.4 conformance test suite more widely available as the next phase in this vision for a open standard content pipeline.

Not for nothing is the ethos of the digital world becoming increasingly about openness. Digital citizens are realizing that the more proprietary the tools and formats, the more constrained they are, and the more money and time they have to spend in order to get their work done. Tools and formats that use open standards enable them to be more productive and creative because components move effortlessly along the pipeline, freeing up creators to do what they do best: make cool content. Is it any wonder that folks are becoming impatient with the old way of doing things?

Khronos COLLADA conformance is designed for the forward-thinking tool developer and provider: you. Conformance testing your products and regression testing your tools confers valuable benefits: highly interoperable tools, credibility and good will, protection against product regression, easy-to-create use cases, streamlined procurement, clear customer expectations, and consistency of implementation with other vendors, not to mention happy and productive users. 

What the Tests Are

COLLADA conformance involves running a suite of automated tests on your product(s) and tools to prove objectively, there are no opinions involved, that they conform to the COLLADA 1.4 specification. The test suite includes over 500 test cases and a scripted framework that you integrate your software command line with in order to drive your software through the tests. 

COLLADA isn’t a rendering standard, although you must be able to render to be integrate with the conformance testing framework. The tests are about parsing syntax and implementing correct semantics and comparing images is just one method used to prove compliance. That doesn’t mean all your output has to have the same look, though. COLLADA documents can describe whatever visual appearance you or your customers want. COLLADA offers extensible lighting models and direct access to industry standard GPU shading languages, for example.

Levels of COLLADA Compliance

There are three levels of COLLADA compliance that are automatically tested by the suite:

  • COLLADA Baseline. Basic geometry and appearance interoperability
  • COLLADA Superior. Adds dynamic lighting (normals), skinning, and animation interoperability
  • COLLADA Exemplary. Supports and preserves the most information robustly

Best practices 

Alan Hudson of Yumetech, Inc., the company contracted by Khronos to complete development of the COLLADA conformance test suite in cooperation with the COLLADA working group, offers these tips for getting the most out of the conformance process:

  • Read the documentation carefully and often
  • Run the installer in administrator mode (Windows)
  • Use the external software dependencies that come with the tests

Obtaining the COLLADA Test Suite

The Khronos Group is pleased to offer the COLLADA 1.4 conformance test software to registered developers. Please visit our web site at http://www.khronos.org/implementers to obtain your copy today!

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