DIMPLE: Documentation

This documentation describes the messages received and sent by DIMPLE. The following syntax is used:

  • Square brackets [] for optional parameters
  • Triangle brackets <> for required parameters
  • Parameters are prefixed with a type indicator:
    • i: 32-bit integer
    • f: 32-bit floating point
    • s: string
  • DIMPLE coerces types, so integers can be specified for float parameters


Any value specified by an OSC address can be set by providing a parameter directly, or retrieved by appending the suffix /get. The /get suffix with no parameters will return the value exactly once. An optional integer parameter to /get specifies that the value should be returned at regular intervals the given number of milliseconds apart. (Currently 10 ms is the lowest interval that can be specified.) These timed messages can be cancelled by specifying a parameter of 0 to /get.

With only a few exceptions, values can be either scalars or vectors. Vectors can be identified by exactly three floating-point parameters. Vectors can also be referenced by appending the /magnitude suffix which will set the magnitude of the vector, leaving its current direction the same. /get can also be appended to /magnitude.

There are currently some exceptions to these rules, which are detailed below.

Connecting to DIMPLE

DIMPLE communicates exclusively using Open Sound Control over UDP, using port 7774 for receiving and port 7775 for sending. In other words, using 7774 as the destination port in your application, and 7775 as the receiving port. DIMPLE is hard-coded to send to localhost, so your application must be running on the same computer. (This will be configurable in the future.)


Creating objects

/world/prism/create <s:name> [f:x] [f:y] [f:z]
/world/sphere/create <s:name> [f:x] [f:y] [f:z]
/world/mesh/create <s:name> <s:filename.3ds> [f:x] [f:y] [f:z]

These messages create a named object as either a prism, sphere, or arbitrary mesh, which must be specified in the .3DS file format. Optionally, an initial position can be specified. The initial size will be quite small, so these messages are usually followed up by a /size or /radius message.

Creating constraints

/world/fixed/create <s:name> <s:object1> <s:object2>
/world/ball/create <s:name> <s:object1> <s:object2> <f:anchorx> <f:anchory> <f:anchorz>
/world/hinge/create <s:name> <s:object1> <s:object2> <f:anchorx> <f:anchory> <f:anchorz> <f:axisx> <f:axisy> <f:axisz>
/world/hinge2/create <s:name> <s:object1> <s:object2> <f:anchorx> <f:anchory> <f:anchorz> <f:axis1x> <f:axis1y> <f:axis1z> <f:axis2x> <f:axis2y> <f:axis2z>
/world/universal/create <s:name> <s:object1> <s:object2> <f:anchorx> <f:anchory> <f:anchorz> <f:axis1x> <f:axis1y> <f:axis1z> <f:axis2x> <f:axis2y> <f:axis2z>
/world/slide/create <s:name> <s:object1> <s:object2> <f:anchorx> <f:anchory> <f:anchorz>
/world/piston/create <s:name> <s:object1> <s:object2> <f:anchorx> <f:anchory> <f:anchorz>

Constraints can be created between two objects, or between an object and the world coordinate system. For the latter, specify object2 as world. Different constraints take different numbers of arguments depending on how many points and vectors are needed to define them. Please see the ODE documentation section on Joints for more information on each constraint type.

Object values

/world/<name>/position <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>
/world/<name>/velocity <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>
/world/<name>/acceleration <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>
/world/<name>/rotation <f:r11> <f:r12> <f:r13> <f:r21> <f:r22> <f:r23> <f:r31> <f:r32> <f:r33>
/world/<name>/force <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>
/world/<name>/mass <f:mass>
/world/<name>/density <f:density>
/world/<name>/color <f:r> <f:g> <f:b>
/world/<name>/friction/static <f:coefficient>
/world/<name>/friction/dynamic <f:coefficient>

Note that /rotation takes a 3×3 rotation matrix as argument, in the form of 9 floating-point values. See, for example, Wikipedia, on how to calculate this.

An object's initial density is 100, but be aware that resizing objects preserves the density, and therefore changes their mass accordingly. The object's mass has an important effect on haptic interaction as well the magnitude of force and spring stiffness values to use. (The value 100 has been selected to feel “good” for haptic interaction, but this should be tuned according to the world you are designing.)

Values for prisms and meshes

/world/<name>/size <f:width> <f:depth> <f:height>

Values for spheres

/world/<name>/radius <f:radius>

Other object messages

/world/<name>/collide <i:0,1>

A parameter of 1 indicates that collisions for this object are requested. 0 indicates not to report collisions for this object.

/world/<name>/collide <s:object> <f:velocity>

This is the form of the response generated by DIMPLE when a collision occurs.


This message with no parameter indicates that this object should be “grabbed”, i.e., should be attached by virtual coupling to the location of the haptic proxy. Grabbing another object will cause the current grabbed object to be dropped.

/world/<name>/visible <i:0,1>

Controls the visibility of this object in the visual display. 1 means the object is visible, and 0 makes the object not visible.


Destroys this object.

Constraint responses

/world/<name>/response/spring <f:stiffness> <f:damping>

Springs are allowed for the following constraints:

  • Hinge
  • Hinge2
  • Universal
  • Slide
  • Piston

Stiffness and damping coefficients can be specified for this spring, making it return to its original orientation or position.

For rotational constraints, the torque can be accessed by the following:

/world/<name>/response/torque <f:magnitude>

Some constraints have two free axes (e.g., universal and hinge2), and these must be refered to with a numerical suffix:

/world/<name>/response/torque1 <f:magnitude>
/world/<name>/response/torque2 <f:magnitude>

For linear constraints (e.g., slide), the force can be accessed by:

/world/<name>/response/force <f:magnitude>

Global messages

/world/collide <i:0,1>

This message with a parameter of 1 specifies that collisions between any two objects should be reported. A parameter of 0 disables reporting of collisions between any two objects, but specific objects can still be enabled for collision reporting.

/world/collide <s:object1> <s:object2> <f:velocity>

This is the form of the response generated by DIMPLE when a collision occurs.

/world/gravity <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>

Sets the world's gravity vector to a given direction and magnitude.


Drops a grabbed object.


Clears all objects in the world.

Special objects

There are a couple of predefined special objects in the DIMPLE world. These are used to control the camera and get information about the haptic cursor.


The camera can be addressed by the prefix,


It has the following parameters:

/world/camera/position <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>
/world/camera/lookat <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>
/world/camera/up <f:x> <f:y> <f:z>


The cursor can be addressed by the prefix,


Note that currently it is necessary to address this particular object on UDP port 7772 (the haptic thread's port) to get meaningful information.

The cursor has most of the same parameters as other objects in DIMPLE.