This is a Cocoa framework I consider as tribute to the good old days™. It's capable of rendering ANSi / ASCII art and it also handles SAUCE records.
Tell me more
There are two classes responsible for all the magic:
ALSauceMachine. The former,
ALAnsiGenerator creates Retina-ready PNG images from ANSi source files. What with one thing and another, images are read-only. So if you're looking for something that generates output in real textmode, maybe as a NSAttributedString instance, you're wrong. However, if you're seeking the most complete and accurate rendering of ANSi art sources available these days, you came to the right place. The latter,
ALSauceMachine is reading SAUCE records and returns these values as Objective-C properties.
Current framework release:
6.0.0 - based on: AnsiLove/C
Rendering of all known ANSi / ASCII art file types:
- ANSi (.ANS)
- Binary (.BIN)
- Artworx (.ADF)
- iCE Draw (.IDF)
- Xbin (.XB) details
- PCBoard (.PCB)
- Tundra (.TND) details
- ASCII (.ASC)
- Release info (.NFO)
- Description in zipfile (.DIZ)
Files with custom suffix default to the ANSi renderer (e.g. ICE or CIA).
AnsiLove.framework is capabable of processing:
- SAUCE records
- DOS and Amiga fonts (embedded binary dump)
- iCE colors
Still not enough?
- Output files are highly optimized 4-bit images.
- Optionally generate proper Retina @2x.PNG files.
- Use custom objects for adjusting output results.
- Built-in support for rendering Amiga ASCII.
- Everything's Mac App Store conform and sandboxing compliant.
- ARC / Automatic Reference Counting
Let's talk about using the framework in your own projects. First of all, AnsiLove.framework is intended to run on
OS X, it won't work for
iOS. You have to download the sources and compile the framework. The Xcode project file contains two build targets, the framework itself and a test app
AnsiLoveGUI, the latter is optional. Select
AnsiLoveGUI from the Schemes dropdown in Xcode if you desire to compile that one too. The test app is a good example of implementing AnsiLove.framework, it does not contain much code and what you find there is well commented. So
AnsiLoveGUI might be your first place to play with the framework after reading this documentation. Being an ARC framework, the test app is a pure ARC project as well. Makes sense, right?
Implementing the framework in your own sources
I assume you know how to add a framework to your own projects, so we just skip that step now.
Go to the header of the class you want to use the framework with. Import the framework like this:
Create an instance of
ALAnsiGenerator *ansiGen = [ALAnsiGenerator new];
To transform ANSi source files into a beautiful images,
ALAnsiGenerator comes with just one method you should know:
(void)renderAnsiFile:(NSString *)inputFile outputFile:(NSString *)outputFile font:(NSString *)font bits:(NSString *)bits iceColors:(BOOL )iceColors columns:(NSString *)columns retina:(BOOL )generateRetina;
Note that generally all objects except
inputFile are optional. AnsiLove.framework will silently consume
nil and empty string values and will rely on it's built-in defaults in both cases.
The only necessary object you need to pass to
ALAnsiGenerator. Well, that's logic. If there is no input file, what should be the output? I see you get it. Here is an example for a proper
I recommend treating this string case-sensitive. As you can see, that string explicitly needs to contain the path and the file name. Keep in mind that any
NSURL needs to be converted to a string before passing to ALAnsiGenerator. NSURL has a method called
absoluteString that can be used for easy conversion.
NSURL *myURL; NSString *urlString = [myURL absoluteString];
Note that AnsiLove.framework will resolve any tilde in path for you.
Formatting of string
outputFile is identical to string
inputFile. If you don't set this object, the framework will use the same path / file name you passed as
inputFile string, addding .PNG suffix automatically. However, if you plan to write your images into a different directory and / or under a different filename, go ahead and customize this object. Just keep in mind that for custom paths the suffix will be added automatically as well.
AnsiLove.framework comes with two font families both originating from the golden age of ANSi artists. These font families are
AMIGA, the latter restricted to 8-bit only. Let's have a look at the values you can pass as
PC fonts can be (all case-sensitive):
80x25(code page 437)
80x50(code page 437, 80x50 mode)
baltic(code page 775)
cyrillic(code page 855)
french-canadian(code page 863)
greek(code page 737)
greek-869(code page 869)
hebrew(code page 862)
icelandic(Code page 861)
latin1(code page 850)
latin2(code page 852)
nordic(code page 865)
portuguese(Code page 860)
russian(code page 866)
terminus(modern font, code page 437)
turkish(code page 857)
AMIGA fonts can be (all case-sensitive):
amiga(alias to Topaz)
microknight(Original MicroKnight version)
microknight+(Modified MicroKnight version)
mosoul(Original mO'sOul font)
pot-noodle(Original P0T-NOoDLE font)
topaz(Original Topaz Kickstart 2.x version)
topaz+(Modified Topaz Kickstart 2.x+ version)
topaz500(Original Topaz Kickstart 1.x version)
topaz500+(Modified Topaz Kickstart 1.x version)
If you don't set a
font object either passing
nil or an empty string to ALAnsiGenerator, AnsiLove.framework will generate images using
80x25, which is the default DOS font.
Bits can be (all case-sensitive):
Setting the bits to
9 will render the 9th column of block characters, so the output will look like it is displayed in real textmode.
Setting the bits to
ced will cause the input file to be rendered in black on gray, and limit the output to 78 columns (only available for
.ans files). Used together with an
AMIGA font, the output will look like it is displayed on Amiga.
Setting the bits to
workbench will cause the input file to be rendered using Amiga Workbench colors (only available for
Settings the bits to
transparent will produce output files with transparent background (only available for
YES will enable iCE color codes. On the opposite
NO means that that
iceColors are disabled, which is the default value. When an ANSi source was created using iCE colors, it was done with a special mode where the blinking was disabled, and you had 16 background colors available. Basically, you had the same choice for background colors as for foreground colors, that's iCE colors. But now the important part: when the ANSi source does not make specific use of iCE colors, you should NOT enable them. The file could look pretty weird in normal mode. So in most cases it's fine to turn iCE colors off.
columns is only relevant for ANSi source files with
.BIN extension and even for those files optional. In most cases conversion will work fine if you don't set this flag, the default value is
160 then. So please pass
columns only to
.BIN files and only if you exactly know what you're doing. The sun could explode or even worse: A KITTEN MAY DIE SOMEWHERE.
If you set this to
YES the Framework creates two output images, the regular file and a properly named and sized @2x.PNG image to the same location.
Supported options for each file type
Here's a simple overview of which file type supports which object. Note that ADF, IDF and XB sources don't support custom font objects as they come with embedded fonts:
___________________________________________ | | | | | | | | columns | font | bits | icecolors | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________| | | | | | | | ANS | | X | X | X | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________| | | | | | | | PCB | | X | X | X | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________| | | | | | | | BIN | X | X | X | X | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________| | | | | | | | ADF | | | | | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________| | | | | | | | IDF | | | | | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________| | | | | | | | TND | | X | X | | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________| | | | | | | | XB | | | | | |_____|_________|_______|_______|___________|
Rendering Process Feedback
AnsiLove.framework will post a notification once processing of given source files is finished. In most cases it's pretty important to know when rendering is done. One might want to present an informal dialog or update the UI afterwards. For making your app listen to the
AnsiLoveFinishedRendering note, all you need is adding this to the
init method of the class you consider as relevant:
NSNotificationCenter *nc = [NSNotificationCenter defaultCenter]; [nc addObserver:self selector:@selector(addYourCustomSelectorHere:) name:@"AnsiLoveFinishedRendering" object:nil];
The test app
AnsiLoveGUI has a simple implementation that posts a message to NSLog as soon as the rendering is completed.
Output file example
You may wonder how the rendered output looks like? You'll find an example here.
Since this project moved to libgd2, output images are 96 DPI. Your NSImage instance needs to take care of the code that makes output files render with the correct aspect ratio on screen. Which is 72 DPI in regular resolution on OS X.
Reading SAUCE records
The framework's class for dealing with SAUCE records is
ALSauceMachine. But before we continue, here's your opportunity to introduce yourself to the SAUCE specifications. Plenty values retrieved from SAUCE records can be passed as objects to
ALAnsiGenerator, so it makes sense indeed to check for a SAUCE record before you start rendering. So, how to use the class? First, we need to create an instance of
ALSauceMachine *sauce = [ALSauceMachine new];
[[ALSauceMachine alloc] init]; will work fine as well. Now call
readRecordFromFile:, this should be self-explanatory:
You probably guess that not all files contain SAUCE and you're right. Many ANSi files actually contain SAUCE (like this file) and some just don't. So how do you know? I've implemented three handy BOOL values, they give you all the feedback you need:
BOOL fileHasRecord; BOOL fileHasComments; BOOL fileHasFlags;
The first property,
fileHasRecord is kinda superior, which means if a file doesn't have a SAUCE record, it's evident it doesn't have SAUCE comments and flags. My advice: don't check
fileHasFlags if you already know there is no SAUCE record. What if a file contains a SAUCE record on the other hand? It's nevertheless possible it doesn't have comments and flags. So if
fileHasRecord is YES, you should try the other two BOOL values as well. Let's assume your class instance is still
*sauce and you now checked for all three BOOL types, knowing the details. How to retrieve the SAUCE? Easy.
ALSauceMachine stores the SAUCE record into properties, right at your fingertips:
NSString *ID; NSString *version; NSString *title; NSString *author; NSString *group; NSString *date; NSInteger dataType; NSInteger fileType; NSInteger tinfo1; NSInteger tinfo2; NSInteger tinfo3; NSInteger tinfo4; NSString *comments; NSInteger flags;
Now imagine you want to print SAUCE title and author in NSLog:
NSLog(@"This is: %@ by %@.", sauce.title, sauce.author);
That's it. If you feel like this introduction to AnsiLove.framework's SAUCE implementation left some of your questions unanswered, I suggest you take a closer look at
AnsiLoveGUI (the sample app). It contains a full featured yet simple example how to use
The framework runs great in sandboxed apps. That is because I handcrafted it to be like that. No temporary exceptions, no hocus-pocus, just you on your lonely island. AnsiLove.framework comes with it's own tiny subsystem to achieve sandboxing compliance. Sounds like no big deal? Go sit on a tack. Actually that was the hardest part of the whole framework.
AnsiLove.framework was created for my app Ascension.
I'd like to thank my friends Frederic Cambus and Brian Cassidy for their ongoing support. Both had a major impact on AnsiLove/C and thus on AnsiLove.framework. While Fred is also responsible for AnsiLove/C's well-known ancestor AnsiLove/PHP, significant parts of Brian's libsauce breathe life into
ALSauceMachine. Finally I bow to all the great ANSi / ASCII lovers and artists around the world. You are the artscene. You keep alive what was not meant to die years ago. YOU ARE ROCKSTARS!
AnsiLove.framework is released under the BSD 3-Clause License. See the file
LICENSE for details.