FAQ

Q: What is PLaSM ?

Q: What is Xplode ?

Q: What software do I need to do some geometric programming?

Q: What platform is PLaSM available for?

Q: In practice, what must I do in order to start?

Q: Where to get the PLaSM software?

Q: Do I need a specialized editor?

Q: Why using a specialized editor?

Q: There is a graphics viewer?

Q: Where can I get the needed viewers?

Q: How to install the language?

Q: How to start working with the installed language?

Q: How is a working session with PLaSM organized?

Q: How to get my first geometric model?

Q: How can I check if the installation was done correctly?

Q. When I look at some operator documentation pages, I see some strange symbol/characters

Q. When I type and evaluate some definition, often I get just a False value in the listener

Q: What is PLaSM ?
A. PLaSM is a functional language used to define and export geometric models and animations to common graphics web formats.

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Q: What is Xplode ?
A:Xplode is a multiplatform IDE designed for the Plasm language. IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment, a program that embeds an editor and a connection with the compiler. So, you can edit your own programs with the editor window, and then compile your programs, or better, make the MzPlasm Interpreter evaluate your geometric definitions or expressions.

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Q: What software I need to do some geometric programming?
A: The integrated PLaSM ‚€œdesign environment‚€ consists at least of a language interpreter, and may contain a source editor, a local or remote language interpreter, and the preferred web browser enriched with one or more graphics plug-ins.

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Q: What platform is PLaSM available for?
A: PLaSM is available for all the Windows versions, all the brands of GNU/Linux, and the Apple‚€™s Mac OS X operating system.

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Q: In practice, what must I do in order to start?
A: The first task for the user is to download the PLaSM interpreter and, possibly, other useful softwares from the web sites they reside on.

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Q: Where to get the PLaSM software?
A: The more recent version of the PLaSM interpreter is located at the web address http://www.plasm.net/download/ The typical user may like to get the binary executables for the preferred computational environment. Conversely, the advanced user might prefer to get the sources and to recompile and build the interpreter.

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Q: Do I need a specialized editor?
A: An integrated language editor is not strictly required, since a standard text editor would be sufficient, but it may be very useful.

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Q: Why using a specialized editor?
A: The PLaSM editor Xplode, which stands for ‚€œ Xplode a PLasm Open Design Environment‚€, will provide for syntax coloring, tab completion, menus of available libraries and functions, quick documentation and direct evaluation of every sub-expression. A standard editor version is already integrated in the interpreter package.

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Q: There is a graphics viewer?
A: The PLaSM environment does not currently offer an integrated viewer for graphics data. Conversely, it allows the user to export the geometric objects generated by the language into some largely diffused web standard formats, including VRML (Virtual RealityModeling Language) for 3D graphics, as well as SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and Flash for 2D graphics.

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Q: Where can I get the needed viewers?
A: You may find large collections of VRML resources on the web.3 The browser plug-ins for .svg (SVG) and .swf (Flash) files can be downloaded from the Adobe, and the Macromedia web sites, respectively.

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Q: How to install the language?
A: The installation on the local machine is very simple: double-click on the file plasm.exe (on windows environments) and answer the installer requests. Easy-to-use installers are also available for Mac OS X and Linux.

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Q: How to start working with the installed language?
A: Launch Start ‚†’ Programs ‚†’ Plasm ‚†’ Xplode to start working on windows. If some problems arise, the editor (client) will ask to browse within the disk and to show where the language interpreter (server), i.e. plasm, is located.

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Q: How is a working session with PLaSM organized? A: A typical PLaSM session consists in reading/writing/editing definitions, evaluating definitions and/or expressions, exporting geometric values to external files, saving/restoring geometries to/from xml files, and in visualizing the contents of graphic files.

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Q. How to get my first geometric model?
A. It is pretty easy: look at the following answer.

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Q: How can I check if the installation was done correctly?
A: In order to check if the language environment has been installed correctly, try generating a red cube and displaying it within your web browser. To do that, please follows the procedure below:
1. Launch the Xplode editor from either the Start ‚†’ Programs ‚†’ Plasm ‚†’ Xplode menu (on Windows) or from the Applications folder (on MacOS X).
2. Write on the superior editor window the following code:

DEF mycube = CUBOID:<1,1,1> COLOR RED;
mycube;

3. then either launch the menu item PLaSM ‚†’ Evaluate Buffer or hit <ctrl>B (on Windows) or <cmmd>B (on MacOS X).
4. The listener should write, on the inferior window, the message:
==================
mycube DEFINED
==================
PolComplex < 3 , 3 > $ < < RGBcolor , < 1 , 0 , 0 > > >

that acknowledges the correct definition of the mycube symbol and tell the user about the type of the expression evaluated on the last input line.
5. Select the mycube symbol using the mouse.
6. Either launch the menu item PLaSM ‚†’ Vrml Export or hit <ctrl>M (on Windows) or <cmmd>M (on MacOS X). Answer OK to the dialog window asking for confirmation on the symbol/expression to evaluate and export.
7. Insert, in the exporting dialog window the filename mycube.wrl and select the directory where to export the generated file. You should own the writing permissions on such directory.
8. Load the mycube.wrl file within your browser, where you must have previously installed and configured a VRML plug-in.
9, Enjoy rotating and scaling your first geometric model!

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Q. When I look at some operator documentation pages, I see some strange symbol/characters.
A. In case, please set your brower "text encoding" to Unicode (UTF-8)

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Q. When I type and evaluate some definition, often I get just a False value in the listener.
A. This happens when the defined symbol is already known to PLaSM, in particular when it is already defined in some library. If you look carefully at the definition you typed, you should notice it appears in blue color. That is a signal that the symbol already exists and cannot be redefined. You may anyway try your definition by slightly changing the name, of course!

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PLaSM is Free Software and may be distributed under GNU LGPL