I just started researching Collada a while ago and planning to use it in our next generation content pipeline. I'm pleased to see that COLLADA is gaining support in the industry and is doing well.
It's been bit hard to grasp the full concept though, so I second the request for a 101-tutorial documentation. That would make the learning curve a bit easier as the Collada-specification is mostly just a reference, and leaves many things unanswered.
Although it has a section dedicated for design issues, I find it little bit too political and not very practical as it doesn't really address real usage scenarios and common issues, such as file merging, file naming/ordering, loading times/performance etc.
I have few questions if you don't mind:
1. What is the current status with external binary files?
The latest specification doesn't seem to mention nor standardize binary files anyway, but it seems there is an experimental support for raw binary data in the COLLADA DOM. Is this expected to become part of the official specification at some point?
It's encouraging to see, that there is at least is some sort of effort to "binarize" COLLADA and make file sizes and loading times more acceptable for larger models. However, I'm bit worried that the existing raw binary method would generate many binary files - one for each array and therefore increasing external file count per .dae a lot. I'm not 100% sure about this, so correct me if I'm wrong, but it just doesn't sound very scalable solution.
Maybe it would be better to solve the issue by creating a real binary-based COLLADA specification, which could be translated to XML when needed, than introducing external files and raw-data outside COLLADA. What do you think?
2. How is the COLLADA content pipeline supposed to work?
Most of the time COLLADA-documents are created by exporting data from a modeling tool and when exporting a new COLLADA file is created. As one of the main points of COLLADA is that external data is retained in the file and it can be processed, modified and saved by various tool, I don't see how this fits with the fact that all the data is lost when the model is re-exported.
I figure that there should be some intelligent merging of files going on, but as far as I see there's no support for merging in the COLLADA DOM or FCOLLADA. I think it would be useful have in the base libraries as that's what everyone probably needs to have anyway.
This of course wouldn't be a problem if COLLADA was used as the source format in modeling tools, but that's unlikely to be the case in the near future or?