Getting started with Panda3D installation packages
The kind folks who produce Panda3D have made it very easy to get Panda3D up and working. You don’t need to worry about any compiling, library linking, or other difficult, multi-step processes. The Panda3D website provides executable files that take care of all the work for you. These files even install the version of Python they need to operate correctly, so you don’t need to go elsewhere for it.
Time for action – downloading and installing Panda3D
I know what you’re thinking: “Less talk, more action!” Here are the step-by-step instructions for installing Panda3D:
- Navigate your web browser to www.Panda3D.org.
- Under the Downloads option, you’ll see a link labeled SDK. Click it.
- If you are using Windows, scroll down this page you’ll find a section titled Download other versions. Find the link to Panda3D SDK 1.6.2 and click it. If you aren’t using Windows, click on the platform you are using (Mac, Linux, or any other OS.). That will take you to a page that has the downloads for that platform. Scroll down to the Download other versions section and find the link to Panda3D SDK 1.6.2, as before.
- When the download is complete, run the file and this screen will pop up:
- Click Next to continue and then accept the terms. After that, you’ll be prompted about where you want to install Panda3D.
- The default location is just fine. Click the Install button to continue. Wait for the progress bar to fill up. When it’s done, you’ll see another prompt.
- This step really isn’t necessary. Just click No and move on.
- When you have finished the installation, you can verify that it’s working by going to Start Menu | All Programs | Panda3D 1.6.2 | Sample Programs | Ball in Maze | Run Ball in Maze. A window will open, showing the Ball in Maze sample game, where you tilt a maze to make a ball roll around while trying to avoid the holes.
What just happened?
You may be wondering why we skipped a part of the installation during step 7. That step of the process caches some of the assets, like 3D models and such that come with Panda3D. Essentially, by spending a few minutes caching these files now, the sample programs that come with Panda3d will load a few seconds faster the first time we run them, that’s all.
Now that we’ve got Panda3D up and running let’s get ourselves an advanced text editor to do our coding in.
Switching to an advanced text editor
The next thing we need is Notepad++. Why, you ask? Well, to code with Python all you really need is a text editor, like the notepad that comes with Windows XP. After typing your code you just have to save the file with .py extension. Notepad itself is kind of dull, though, and it doesn’t have many features to make coding easier.
Notepad++ is a text editor very similar to Notepad. It can open pretty much any text file and it comes with a pile of features to make coding easier. To highlight some fan favorites, it provides language mark-up, a Find and Replace feature, and file tabs to organize multiple open files. The language mark-up will change the color and fonts of specific parts of your code to help you visually understand and organize it. With Find and Replace you can easily change a large number of variable names and also quickly and easily update code. File tabbing keeps all of your open code files in one window and makes it easy to switch back and forth between them.