Hiram College conducts long-term vegetation monitoring to investigate changes in the structure and composition of the forests at the College's J.H. Barrow Field Station. This effort includes sampling tree dimensions data in fifty by twenty meter plots, with the goal of developing vertical and horizontal profiles of the forest structure. These structure data are traditionally depicted for visualization by hand-drawing a representation of the trees in each plot. This process is tedious and time-consuming. This paper describes a Java3D application that allows users to input such tree data and have the program quickly and accurately create visualizations from multiple perspectives.
To run VirtuaForest, you must have Java and the standard Java 3D libraries on your system. The libraries themselves and the instructions for installing them can be found here.
The program itself is very simple. From the File menu, the user can load a .csv file containing the data for a plot of trees (such as the sample data provided here). The data for each tree will be loaded into the table in the bottom half of the window, and the view panel in the upper right should automatically display a top-down view of the plot. The data in the table can be edited at any time, causing the changes to be reflected immediately in the view panel. Any changes made to the data can be saved by selecting Save from the file menu.
The Plot menu bar allows the user to change between top-down, side, and 3D views of the same data set. The controls for 3D mode are still rather rough and experimental, but the view can be controlled by clicking directly on the view panel to make it the active element and using the keyboard. The up and down arrows move the camera forward and back, the left and right arrows rotate the view from side to side, and the Page Up and Page Down keys pan the view vertically.