Archive for April, 2010

Porting to Java

Thursday, April 1st, 2010 by rdb

Note: This was an April Fool’s Joke. Please do not take any information in this blog post seriously.

As you all know, the languages currently supported by Panda3D are Python and C++. Unfortunately, this forces the user to choose from a trade-off between simplicity and performance. Python is simple and fast to prototype with, however its performance is very poor. A CPU-intensive algorithm in Python will typically run hundreds of times slower than the same algorithm implemented in C++. C++ on the other hand provides almost native performance, but it comes with a plethora of inconveniences for the developer, the most notable being that it’s easy to induce a crash or cause your application to leak memory.

Enter Java, a language designed to be a middle-ground between these two goals. Java is a modern, high-level language with strong OO capabilities and garbage collection that doesn’t expose the coder to the dangers of manual memory management as C++. But Java is also an order of magnitude faster than Python.

In light of these properties of the Java language, the development team has unanimously decided to adopt Java as the only supported language for the Panda3D API. As 1.7.0 has just been released, now is the perfect time to switch. The upcoming 1.7.3 release of Panda3D will drop all Python and C++ code, in favor of Java. Effectively today, development has commenced on a Perforce repository that drops support for Python and C++.

What does this mean to you? Let’s start by comparing how Panda usage will look in the future as opposed to now. This is the current basic Panda example in Python that you may recognize from the manual:

from direct.showbase.ShowBase import ShowBase
class MyApp(ShowBase):
    def __init__(self):
        # Load the environment model.
        self.environ = self.loader.loadModel("models/environment")
        # Reparent the model to render.
        # Apply scale and position transforms on the model.
        self.environ.setScale(0.25, 0.25, 0.25)
        self.environ.setPos(-8, 42, 0)
app = MyApp()

And this is how the same will be achieved now in Java:

import org.panda3d.*;

public class MyApp extends ShowBase {

    private NodePath environ;

    public MyApp() {
        this.environ = this.getLoader().loadModel("models/environment");
        // Reparent the model to render.
        // Apply scale and position transforms on the model.
        this.environ.setScale(0.25, 0.25, 0.25);
        this.environ.setPos(-8, 42, 0);

    public static void main(String args[]) {
        new MyApp().run();


Needless to say, this is a major improvement over the Python equivalent. This will definitely help Panda3D expand in the marketplace since Java alone has more demand than Python and C++ combined (see the graph below).

Java versus Python and C++

We are already seeing the first benefits of changing to Java. For example, we have replaced our build system, makepanda, with Java’s ant. This allows us to leverage the XML format to streamline the build process’ bottom-line in a monitored, decentralized way.

We hope that this multi-tiered non-volatile migration process enables us to provide synergized encompassing software emulation through realigned composite management trends, and resulting in universal global process improvement in the end.

We are also in the process of officially renaming the engine into Janda3D. This is because the P in “Panda3D” stands for Python. This involves registering a new domain name and registering the trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office, so it may take some time.

Please stay tuned until our next blog post, in which we will explain how we plan to make the networking system in Panda3D version 1.7.9 fully compatible with RFC 2324.