JigSpace: A New Free Application for Making 3D Presentations

3D optical illusion

In my opinion, one of the functions of libraries and librarians is to facilitate the sharing of ideas, particularly ideas that can move the world forward. In that spirit, I want to tell everyone about a new free downloadable application named JigSpace. With this Window or Mac desktop app, anyone can create 3D animated presentations called Jigs. Jigs can explain, show, or teach anything in an intuitive and memorable way.

If a Picture Is Worth 1,000 words, a Jig Is Worth 1,000 Pictures

The people who invented JigSpace describe its advantages in this way: "We learn better in 3D. Jigs are better. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a Jig is worth 1,000 pictures. Jigs will reach your audience faster and make a bigger impact than any other media." This might be overstating the case some, but the only way to find out is to see what Jigs are about.

  • First, here's a 4-minute video on the AngelList website introducing JigSpace.
  • Check out Zac Duff's tweet from April 2017. The high school student within me jumps up and down when seeing that. Zac Duff is a JigSpace co-founder and also an artist, a programmer, and a designer — a rare combination of creative traits.
  • To see how JigSpace might be put to use, see my YouTube video of a wacky idea of mine to Cool Chicago Using Saved Winter Ice. I created this presentation using LibreOffice and recorded it for YouTube with Simple Screen Recorder, on my Linux laptop.
  • Now, look at the Jig on my idea that was produced by the folks at JigSpace. I've had better success viewing this Jig with Firefox than with Chrome.

Notice how you can move through the 17 slides in this digital presentation. And you can also grab any slide with your mouse and view the scene from different angles — somewhat like the orbit tool in the 3D modeling software SketchUp.

To get going with JigSpace, see their simple Quickstart Guide. You can also ask any question in their discussion forum.

Everyone Can Be an Inventor

When I was in high school, I was constantly thinking of inventions I wanted to build. Having a tool like JigSpace would have allowed me to communicate what I was thinking to others. I'd venture to say that skill at building Jigs would boost the inclination of people to think of new ideas in 3D. We need all ideas on deck these days.

My Hopes for JigSpace

I want to note that JigSpace is very new. The application called Jig Workshop is alpha-stage software and so is still under development. The downloadable desktop app is for Windows and Mac, but I hope it will also be available for Linux clients as well.

If you know any youngsters who love using SketchUp, Blender, and other 3D tools, tell them about JigSpace. While it is intended for youth and adults, I see JigSpace developing a strong following with the younger set. It might even be fun for school districts, cities, and states to run contests to see which schools (and individual students) can create the best Jigs in a fixed amount of time. Maybe we could even have FIRST Robotics teams compete against each other to describe ideas in 3D using JigSpace.

A Software Tool That Works Well with JigSpace

Keep in mind, too, that skill at using other software, such as drawing applications like Inkscape, might come in handy when building Jigs. Inkscape is free software that runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows. It is a favorite of schools and school districts teaching digital design. The best place I know of to learn Inkscape skills are the 100 high-quality screencasts here.

About the Author

Phil ShapiroPhil Shapiro is a library assistant, educator, and technology access activist in the Washington, D.C., area. He has found inspiration in the learning that goes on at after-school programs, adult literacy organizations, public libraries, and organizations bringing music instruction and the arts to children. He is a true believer in public libraries as the central social, educational, and creative institutions in our communities.

Image: Fred the Oyster / CC0