This week’s one hour hour challenge used A-Frame, a web framework for building VR experiences. From A-Frame’s Website, the framework is described as a tool to “Make WebVR with HTML and Entity-Component. Works on Vive, Rift, Daydream, GearVR, desktop.”

Why A-Frame? We first heard about A-Frame at a React Boulder meetup last month. The idea being able to build VR with only HTML and a CDN sparked our interest. A-Frame uses Web VR, “an open specification that makes it possible to experience VR in your browser.” It is super easy to get started.

Technology:

  • A-Frame CDN
  • WebVR
  • HTML

How to Get Started: There is NO setup. Just add the CDN via script tag.

<script src="https://aframe.io/releases/0.8.0/aframe.min.js"></script>

A-Frame Docs

What Next? We followed the Hello WebVR example and quickly pivoted to building a solar system. In retrospect, it may have been a more productive hour if we attempted an easier , but we are not known to shy away from a challenge.

Check out our finished product

Impressed? I know, we weren’t either…

Pros:

  • Intuitive
  • Very easy to get started
  • Docs are full of full examples

Cons:

  • Too much magic - This made debugging very challenging since we didn’t understand the problem we were solving in the first place
  • Mostly fidgeting (rather than “coding”) to get the positioning of entities correct. We really just changed numbers and hex values.
  • Position was challenging to understand. Perhaps this comes from our rudimentary understanding of Physics? Regardless, we struggled to understand basics concepts like how changing x, y, and z in position=”x y z” altered the entity.

Reflections:

  • Large focus on design, UI/UX. Confirmation that we are not front-end developers… (not yet at least :) growth mindset!)
  • This would be cool for games!!
  • Didn’t feel like coding because it only involved adding html attributes and fidgeting with numbers. It would be more fun if we incorporated JS (with React) - something so we could play with state, interact with the dom, etc.
  • What would our simple solar system look like on a headset?

Would we use it again? The short answer… No Not because the tech isn’t awesome - it truly is. Mostly because A-Frame’s huge pluses seem to fall in the category of simplifying game developing and VR for the novice and those pluses aren’t personal pluses.

All in all, it was a fun hour. Wish I could have gotten Saturn’s ring to be round though…

A-Frame Hour