Origami is awesome, I've been doing it for many years. Now that I've exhausted the models in my books (including the latest: Origami Design Secrets) I've run out of models to make! So, thought I, why not see what the internet has to offer.
= State of the Art =
I have come to expect a lot from modern technology. So naturally, in my search on the internet, I was seeking a nice central database of models in some beautiful, open format. This format would be read by a nice multiplatform application would generate consistently laid-out diagrams that are easy to follow. I also expected there to be editors for this format, so that designers could easily input their creations, step by step.
Unfortunately, no such thing seems to exist. I could be wrong (please?), but the closest I came to finding some sort of Origami-specific software was at Robert J. Lang's website, with his [http://www.langorigami.com/science/origamisim/origamisim.php4 Origami Simulation] project. I don't have a Mac, so I had no chance to play with it. From what I understand, the focus of Robert Lang's Origami Simulation is more of a proof of concept, not really designed to help the modeller or folder.
There's a clear shortage of Origami-related software, so something must be done, because there's a lot of potential for coolness. Also, considering the surprisingly large size of the Origami community (judging by the activeness of the Origami@MIT mailing list), and their technical prowess (they can use a mailing list), I'm surprised modern modellers have so few tools at their disposal
= Proposal =
I propose a software based origami modelling environment that creates a standard paradigm for origami models. This would serve the following purposes:
Aid the folder in
- Searching for models (much easier with a common format)
- Generating consistent, well formatted instructions
- More advanced functions like visualizing intermediate steps of the model's construction according to user preferences
Aid the modeller in creating new models
- Lots more potential applications
- 3D Renderings of final model?
- Automatically generated crease diagrams?
I use terms ''folder'' to refer to the one who folds an origami model, and ''modeller'' to one who invents and diagrams the model.
Simulating paper is probably hard. Many standard origami folds would conceivably be very difficult to convey to a computer through any interface. However, even the most complex fold should be fairly simple to express mathematically. For this reason, I think that the first thing to determine is a high level description of the file format (let's call it
.ori) in which to store origami models. Once that's done, we would need various software to manipulate this format in various ways.
The main question: is it ''really'' true that even the most complex fold can be easily expressed in a mathematical model? :)
From the software end of things, I think a LaTeX-like system would ideal. What I mean by this is a suite of applications that would convert
.orisource to various formats (analogy: pdflatex), for the folder's viewing pleasure. Then, there might be a set of applications that would help the modeller create
.orifiles in some convenient fasion (analogy: LyX).
== ORI Format ==
A conceptual overview of how the
.oriformat describes a model. Before proceeding, it's necessary to decide whether the
.oriformat describes the final model or the steps towards that model, or both? Still thinking on this one.
== Viewers ==
Does it make sense to view the
oriformat directly, or should the LaTeX paradigm be followed here as well? Still thinking.
== Editors ==
Robert Lang's Origami Simulation seems like a good place to start.