ASCIImage parser and tools written in Ruby
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Ruby ASCIImage tools

This project includes an ASCIImage parser in Ruby, and a script that uses the parser to convert ASCIImages to SVG.


The ASCIImage format has been developed as an alternative, simple way to create small icons on iOS and OS X using NSStrings. The original code can be found here.


The principles of an ASCIImage are the following:

  • an ASCIImage is a sequence of equal-length lines, filled by pixels;

  • all whitespace is ignored, but pixels should be equally spaced;

  • pixels can be marked or unmarked; marks are numbered according to the system 1, 2, …, 9, A, B, …, Z, a, b, …, n, p, …, z i.e. all digits, uppercase and lowercase letters, with the exception of 0 (zero) and o (lowercase letter o); anything else is an unmarked pixel;

  • a path is defined by consecutive marks (no gaps), or repeated/isolated marks:

    • single-instance consecutive marks indicate a polygon;
    • double marks indicate invidual straight lines;
    • marks repeated more than once denote an ellipse inscribed in the rectangular convex hull of the repeated marks;
    • isolated marks denote individual pixels;

SVG conversion

To convert an ASCIImage to an SVG, the following conventions are applied:

  • each pixel row/column of the ASCIImage is assumed to be made of 10 SVG units;
  • each mark is placed at the center of the pixel, i.e. at rc*10 + 5 SVG units;