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Home » » Three goals of AA-Project

Three goals of AA-Project

Port all important software (like Doom, Second Reality, X windows etc..) on AA-lib.

Port AA-lib on all available platforms (mainly ZX-Spectrum and Sharp).
Force IBM to start manufacturing MDA cards again.

AA-project was started by Jan Hubicka. In that times just a few people knew about it. Then a new demo named BB has been relased to show the power of AA-lib technology. Now the project is freely available and anyone can help.

AA-project releases so called technology demo for it's new 3d stereogram technology (ASCII-3D-2000). It uses well known and popular random dot stereograms in ASCII ART (try to see above example). This technology will be soon included into mainstream AA-lib release (planned for new AA-lib 99). Code is complettely year 2000 compliant now and unicode support is comming soon! Separate teams are working at hardware acceleration chips to be released before year 2000.Features
  • High quality ascii art stereogram rendering
  • Highly configurable
  • User friendly command line interface (including full online help)
  • Year 2000 compliant
aa3d-1.0.tar.gz is avilable from AA-project ftp site: http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/aa-project/aa3d-1.0.tar.gz. Java version got lost in the disc crash.

aatv is a simple program to watch TV in a text-based console. Seriously! It displays the output of your TV/video capture card in text using aalib.

Here is a screenshot : It's Florent!

AA-lib tuning

dT8  8Tb
dT 8  8 Tb
dT  8  8  Tb

dT    8  8    Tb
dT     8  8     Tb

L'immagine “http://www.tele2.it/partners/banners/voice_728x90.gif” non può essere visualizzata poiché contiene degli errori.
If you start aview (and AA-lib based image browser) on random image in random configuration, it is well possible to get result like this one:
josef holecek josef holecek in ASCII art version 1
No wonder that you won't get impressed. So I've put together following page to guide you trough few steps how to improve the quality.
Proper AA-lib based programs should accept the standard set of command line options. They also should print summary when -help is passed.
Some programs, however, may not give aa-lib chance to read their command line options. Then the environment variable AAOPTS may be used instead. You may also want to set that variable to customize default values.
The otpions may be used to tune various aspects of AA-lib.
Josef Holecek in ascii art version 1

Choosing output driver

Josef Holecek in ascii art version 2
Perhaps the most important is choosing of output driver. On many systems, AA-lib may output text in multiple different ways. By default it uses the driver it believes is most advanced.
These default settings are usually OK for DOS and OS/2 based systems.
On UNIX based systems, the most commonly used drivers are slang and curses. These do have numerous disadvantages, such as:
  • It is impossible to determine font used by output device
  • They are often awfully slow
  • Some output devices are not white-on-black AA-lib expect by default
  • Keyboard and mouse support is limited (especially for gaming lack for noticing key releases is annoying)
So it is recommended to use, whenever possible the alternate drivers. First one is an X11 driver, that will be enabled any time you set meaningful DISPLAY environment variable.
On Linux console you may want to use the Linux drivers. There is an output driver that use /dev/vcsa files and is very fast, able to fetch the font and does contain multihead support. To enable it you need write access to the /dev/vcsa file, that is sadly not available by default on most Linux distributions. You have options to eighter run the program as root, give it sticky bit (both are security holes of course), or hack the login program to modify the owner in similar way as it does for /dev/tty.
There is also corresponding keyboard driver, that is able to use raw keyboard support and thus detect releases of keys and mouse driver that support interface of gpm mouse server.
If there is need to stay with curses or slang driver, you may consider specifying -font or -inverse attributes to make output more match your setting. Refer to AA-lib manual for details. Also -nodim and -nobold can be used if your terminal renders these in weird way or to speed up the output.
On Windowed systems you also may want to specify the -width and -height parameters to specify default window size.
Josef Holecek in ascii art version 2

Choose details.

Josef Holecek in ascii art version 3
Especially for photos, it is good idea to choose an detail. Overall photos with lots of small details won't get out very well.
Josef Holecek in ascii art version 3

Specify proper bright/contrast/gamma etc.

Josef Holecek in ascii art version 4
Since ascii output lack number of details, it is usually needed to tweak the bright/contrast/gamma correction values individually for each usage. This can be done by specifying the -bright/-contrast/-gamma values or in the aview image browser by keys mentioned in help.
On some setup it may be needed to change value of dimmul/boldmul. These specify the difference in brightness between dim, normal and bold characters.
The default parameters are set to fit my monitor (15" goldstar) With contrast set to maximum and bright set to make black black This values depends at quality of your monitor (and setting of controls Default settings should be OK for most PC monitors. But ideal monitor Needs dimmul=1.71 boldmul=1.43. For example monitor used by SGI is very close to this values. Also old 14" vga monitors needs higher values. After setting all these values, image looks like:

josef holecek in ascii art version 4
HTML version | Text version

The HTML and text versions of image can be created using AA-lib's save driver via aview image browser (using 's' key).
Josef Holecek in ascii art version 4

Attributes and futher improvements

Josef Holecek in ascii art version 5
By default AA-lib uses dimm and bold characters where available. It also may use reverse attribute as well as extended character set. If you want to enable some of these features, just appropriate command line option. Here is example after enabling all of these:
josef holecek in ascii art version 5
It does change the font used by X11 driver using AAFont environment variable and uses "-*-fixed-bold-*-*-*-*-70-*-*-*-*-*-*".


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