Ascgen 2.0 Released!

Well, that took longer then I expected.

*** Download here ***

Here are the main changes:
– Complete rewrite of almost the entire code-base into cleaner, more readable and modular code.
– The conversion process has been optimized at every step, with a big overall speed increase.
– The input image has moved from the main panel into a new widget, plus lots of other UI changes.
– Batch conversion has been completely rewritten with a new and more usable interface.
– The settings form and the whole settings system have been rewritten, and it now automatically saves to a new data file when you press ok.
– Several memory leaks have been fixed, as have all known bugs.
– Added support for handling multiple translation files.

Click here for the full and scary change log: Ascgen 2.0 Changes. Some of the things were changed and rewritten multiple times since the last version, but I’ve gone through and I think it’s more or less correct now.

Also, you may have noticed that this site has had a nice revamp and clean-up. The tutorial is up to date and the faq page has been rewritten using a nice plugin. Please let me know if you have question that isn’t covered: FAQ. Also screenshots!

Please let people know about this release. This project will only continue forward if it gets enough support, so it would be great if you used the sharing buttons just below this post. Donating a couple of $ would also be greatly appreciated.


Happy Birthday 0.9.6!

It’s been exactly three years since the last version was released. I don’t know how that happened, and I’m really sorry about that. If I’d noticed a few weeks ago then I might have been able to get something together, but you’ll have to wait a little while longer for a stable and tested version.

Over the last three years (really?) I have only worked on the code sporadically, but I’ve made a huge number of internal changes that have improved performance and stability all around.

Keep your eye on the massive 2.0 change log: http://ascgendotnet.jmsoftware.co.uk/changelog/2-0
Follow the progress on twitter: http://twitter.com/ascgen

Current plan is: rewrite the (currently broken) settings code, sort out an installation program, testing then release. First part is the real sticking point, after that’s done then the program will finally be ready to go.

Then I can start on Ascgen 3. :stare:


Future of the Ascgen

It has been a while now, but since Christmas I’ve been back working on the code.

The entire code base has been cleaned (with the help of these + CodeRush and Refactor!), the whole design is being improved, and lots of little bugs have been fixed. It’s already massively different and far more readable then before. I’m keeping the change log up to date with the code in the SVN CVS: http://ascgendotnet.jmsoftware.co.uk/changelog

The next release will be Ascgen dotNet version 2.0.0 (or to make things easier, Ascgen 2.0). I don’t know when it will be ready, it just depends on whether I want to release something functionally almost identical to the current version, or if I go forward with some new features.

The main new thing I want to add is a new method of conversion which will be available in addition to the current ones. It’s for fixed width fonts only, and gives a much better output for line art style images.

Also, I don’t know if I’ll keep up with this, but: http://twitter.com/ascgen

Bulgarian Translation + News

Thanks to Sah War we now have a translation file for Bulgarian (Apologies about taking so long to upload it).

Translation files

Direct Link

There are some spacing issues which I will resolve in the next version.

If things work out there may be something special released before Christmas. It’s not a new version (~mid January), it’s a separate but related little program which I’ve been planning for a few days. The prototype isn’t finished, so if it’s a horrible failure then we will say no more about it.

Russian and Ukrainian translations

Thanks to Warrior, we now have translation files for the Russian and Ukrainian languages.

Translation files page:
https://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=133786&package_id=284594

Direct links to the cvs:
Russian
Ukrainian

To use them, just download the file and place it in the same directory as the Ascii Generator executable (only have one translation file there at a time or it won’t work).

If you would like to translate the program into another language, please download this file, and edit the strings between the “value” tags. You can contact me here.

Ascgen dotNET 0.9.6 released

** Download it here **

I was waiting until I’d finished rewriting one of the controls, but I just had a pretty huge crash bug pointed out to me.

Added a form to preview the colour output
Added menu item to change the position of the image and text frames from horizontal to vertical
Added automatically choosing the panels orientation layout from the screen size
Changed main form to access the RichTextBox through an interface
Moved interfaces into their own namespace
Fixed being unable to save variable width font conversions as an image

If you do see something obviously wrong, please report it on the sourceforge page (“Help/Report a bug…”). You don’t have to have an account there and you can do it anonymously.

Ascgen dotNET 0.9.5 released – Dithering and more

** Download it here **

Internal design changes, and some cool new stuff.

Dithering
Thanks to an great idea sent to me through sourceforge, the program now comes with the ability to run a dithering filter over the output.

Why would you want this? Well, the text output is like having an image with a small palette of colours. Adding noise to the output helps to blend the different greyscale colours together and produces a result that is (hopefully) more pleasing the eye. There’s also a random element which weights the dithering and helps hide the pattern.

Check out the wikipedia article for more information on the theory behind this topic.

Translation file changes
The program will now automatically load a translation file if one (and only one) is in the same directory as the executable. The filename has to be in the format translation.*.xml with * being the language code (although at the moment it doesn’t matter what you put there). For an example, here’s the American translation file: translation.en-us.xml

The full list of untranslated strings is here:
http://ascgen2.cvs.sourceforge.net/*checkout*/ascgen2/ascgen2/translation.xml

Text Widget
The brightness/contrast and levels widgets have been merged into one new widget, using tabs to switch between them and a new control for adjusting the dithering levels.
Continue reading

Colour ASCII Art tips, Localization Example and more

Colour ASCII Art
Since I’ve been playing around with the colour image output a lot in the last few months, I thought I’d share a few tips.

1) The way the output is displayed using characters gives the effect that the colours look lighter then they should. Adjust the image brightness and contrast to make the input darker and have the colours stand out more, or with inverted (i.e. white text on black) output make it lighter. Hopefully I’ll come up with a way to compensate for this automatically.

2) I think that having the colour output with the text inverted looks much better then with the normal white background.

3) Try removing the space and punctuation from the valid characters for the ramp (”Edit/Ramps/Valid Characters…”).

I might try to do a tutorial for colour output.

Localization
Here’s an example translation file to localize the program into American English. Save it to the same directory as the exe file and call it translation.xml.
http://www.jmsoftware.co.uk/files/translation.xml

The full list is here: http://ascgen2.cvs.sourceforge.net/*checkout*/ascgen2/ascgen2/translation.xml
History: http://ascgen2.cvs.sourceforge.net/ascgen2/ascgen2/translation.xml?view=log

Other
Some people complained, so if you don’t want the program checking for a new version each time it starts up (which just tries to grab a tiny xml file from the sourceforge page) you can now turn it off without leaving the program. Go to ‘Edit/Edit Settings…’ and uncheck the ‘New Version Check’ box, then press ‘Ok’ and go to ‘Edit/Save Settings as Default’.

I considered having it turned off as default since I added the manual version check (’Help/Check for a New Version’), but who would turn it on?

Also, please consider donating if you enjoy this program, or at least help spread the word about it. Having the external links removed from Wikipedia ASCII Art pages really hurt the traffic to this site (and the money per ad click has gone down the toilet).