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                 The GTO file format

    1. Overview
    2. License Brief
    3. Build Notes

* See the NEWS file for an overview of changes in this release. *


Here's the Overview section from the documentation.  For the rest, see 
"doc/gto.texi" (can be easily converted to HTML with texi2html)

1. Overview

    The GTO format's primary usage is storage of static geometric data. The
types of data you might find in a GTO file are things like polygonal meshes,
various types of subdivision surfaces, NURBS or UBS surfaces, coordinate
systems, hierarchies of objects, material bindings, and even images. In our
facility -- Tweak Films -- the data in GTO files are rendered directly by
entropy (a prman compatible rib renderer) and used for modeling and 3D paint.
We also use the GTO format in place of the venerable and yet nasty PDB file
format for particles.

    From a historic point of view, the GTO file format is most closely related
to the original inventor file format, the Stanford PLY format and the PDB
particle format. Like the Wavefont PDB file format, there are a limited number
of simple GTO data types (float, int, string, boolean). Like the inventor file
format, a GTO can hold an entire transformation hierarchy including geometric
leaf nodes. Like the PLY format, the GTO format can contain an arbitrary amount
of data per primitive. Most importantly however, the GTO file format is
intended to be very OBJ-like; its relatively easy to read and write and easy to
ignore data you don't want or know about.

    GTO files are binary files. There is currently no ASCII/Unicode or other
human readable version of the file other than the output of the gtoinfo
program. Therefore we provide code for the binary format to give implementors a
head start. The file is either big or little endian on disk, but should be
readable on any platform.

    The GTO reader we provide can be linked against libz, so it can read
gzipped GTO files natively. We find that gzipping GTO files from most 3D
programs can reduce the size by approximately 60%. The file itself contains
Objects which are composed of Components. Components are further composed of
Properties. A Property contains an array of one of the predefined data types
with a specified width. For example, you might have an object which looks
something like this:

      Object "cube"
          Component "points"
              Property float[3][8] "position"
              Property float[1][8] "mass"
          Component "elements"
              Property byte[1][8] "type"
              Property short[1][8] "size"
          Component "indices"
              Property int[1][32] "vertex"

    Using the terminology above, the object "cube" contains five properties:
"position", "mass", "type", "size", and "vertex". The "points" component
describes the points that make up the cube vertices. Each point has a position
and mass stored in properties of the same name. The position property data is
composed of eight float[3] data items (or 8 3D points). The "mass" property is
composed of a 8 scalar floating point values (one for each point).

    The "elements" component contains two properties. "type" indicates the type
of the element (for example, triangle, quad, or triangle strip). In this case
the elements might all be quads. "size" indicates the number of vertices in
each of the eight faces (elements) of the cube -- (4 for a cube). The "vertex"
property of the "indices" component contains the actual indices: 4 per face for
a total of 32.

    Of course you could store much more data with the cube object if you wanted
to. For example, if you wanted velocity or color per point, this would be
another property in the "points" component.

    The meaning of this data is another story altogether. Its all handled by
protocol. One application may store things in the GTO file that another
application has no method of interpreting even though it can read that data and
modify it. In the example above, you need to know to expect that polygonal data
is stored in the given properties. The same data could be stored with different
property names and a more complex layout. (The "polygon" protocol described
later in this document is different and more involved than the above example.)


2. License Brief

    GTO is licensed under the terms of the New BSD License.


3. Notes on building:

    1. Currently, the Maya plugins are known to work on Maya 7 - 2008 on
       Linux & OSX.  As far as we know, they work on Windows too, but you'll
       have to figure out how to build them yourself.
    2. If you want to build the Python modules, you have to do so manually for
            cd plugins/python
            ./ build
            ./ install

    3. The Renderman® plugin should (theoretically) work with any
       Renderman®-compliant renderer.  So far it has been used extensively 
       with Entropy, and prman 13.* on FC4.

    4. The houdini ggto geo converter may require houdini 9 or better and
       the SDK.  The current Makefile is currently non-functional, and is
       included as a hint.  Hopefully we'll get it into autoconf before
       too long.