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An IDE For 3D Production

Teaser trailer for the project:

kons-9 is a new 3D computer graphics and animation software system being developed as an open source project under the MIT license. It broadly falls under the category of a 3D digital content creation tool, while providing interesting and unique features not found in other systems. The intention is to develop a flexible and extensible system in which can be built a wide variety of application and domain specific tools and packages.

The unique differentiating aspect of kons-9 is that it combines the power of a software development IDE with the visual tools of 3D graphics authoring system. It does this by being implemented in Common Lisp, an object-oriented dynamic language which provides powerful facilities for exploratory development and rapid prototyping within a live interactive software environment.

This allows for unlimited extensibility of the system by both developers and users. In fact, this unique aspect of kons-9 erases the distinction between developers and end users. Code developed within the kons-9 framework is always first class, not limited to some arbitrary API or scripting language. The source code for the system is available for extension, customization and exploration, and development in new directions, all within a REPL-based integrated development environment operating on a live image of a 3D scene.

Every user of kons-9 has at their disposal the same full range of facilities and tools as the original developers of the system. Therefore code developed by them is first class in the sense that it has all the capabilities of code written by the developers of the system. There is no concept of a limited scripting language separate from the source code of the software.

Users of kons-9 are able to modify 3D classes, subclass and extend them, and add new behaviors as desired. The system is highly extensible and customizable to suit different application domains and workflow needs.

kons-9 can be used as a traditional user interface driven 3D application by general artists, or as a REPL-based development environment by technical artists and software developers. These two approaches can be seamlessly combined into a flexible and powerful workflow, where non-technical users can immediately benefit from software tools and extensions developed by technical users.

Developers work in a live image of their 3D scene, able to immediately see the results of their code in action. There is no need for a separate compile, link, and load process. Nor does the system have to be restarted to be updated. The REPL-based development experience is highly interactive with a continuous and tight feedback loop. Class and function definitions can be modified on the fly and the results seen immediately in the 3D scene. Incremental and exploratory development is facilitated and encouraged by the nature of the system.

Demo of an early version of the software:

How To Join The kons-9 Team

kons-9 is an open source project under the MIT license. We welcome those wishing to contribute their time and skills.

If you wish to do so, please:

  • Watch the project.
  • Turn on Notifications so you are aware of the Discussions postings.
  • Read the Introductions thread in Discussions.
  • Post your own introduction on the thread.
  • Join the Discussions and look at the open Issues.

How To Run kons-9

This code currently runs in SBCL on MacOS, Linux, and Windows. The system currently uses OpenGL as a graphics engine, though we are working on moving to Vulkan/Metal.

Download the code and load the local directory:

(push (uiop:getcwd) ql:*local-project-directories*)

Load the system:

(ql:quickload "kons-9")

Run the following code to open a 3D view window:

(in-package :kons-9)

Open test/demo-kernel.lisp and start evaluating the blocks of code for the demos. Things should appear in the graphics window. Try the other demo files as well.

Have fun.

Run the Testsuite as a Batch Job

Use development script development/testsuite to run the testsuite as a batch job. Specific tests can be requested by adding one argument to the command line, such as

development/testsuite exercise-clamp
development/testsuite testsuite-utils

The following command lists all available tests

development/testsuite list-all-available-tests

Run the Testsuite from the REPL

Load the system:

(ql:quickload "kons-9/testsuite")

List all available tests with


Tests are implemented as regular functions and can be run with statements similar to




Users not familiar with Confidence may want to review the quick introduction to Confidence.

API reference

The Kons-9 API reference manual is a work-in-progress.

This manual is generated using the PAX framework and the directives in src/api/api.lisp.

Updates are automatically published from the main branch using Github Actions.

Please contribute to the documentation as you study the Kons-9 source code!

Building the documentation

Build the documentation in HTML format from a Kons-9 Lisp image:

(require :kons-9/api-docs)
(pax:update-asdf-system-html-docs kons-9::@api :kons-9)

See PAX: Utilities for Generating Documentation. See also PAX: Documenting in Emacs for live Emacs-based documentation browsing.

Updating API example transcripts

PAX automatically verifies that all examples produce their expected results (see PAX: Transcripts). If the consistency checks fail then so will the documentation build and its associated Github Action.

To update a transcript, or create a new one, place the point immediately after the example code inside a docstring and run the Emacs command mgl-pax-transcribe-last-expression (see PAX: Transcribing with Emacs). See the examples in api.lisp for reference.

PAX transcripts should be formatted using this markdown syntax:

```cl-transcript (:dynenv pax-dynenv)
...lisp code...

The cl-transcript directive tells PAX to make consistency checks.

The :dynenv directive ensures that the checks are made in a suitable environment e.g. with a fixed random seed.


  1. PAX transcript consistency-checks are sensitive to whitespace. Be careful not to edit the whitespace in the generated example output or else the consistency checks will fail. (Be careful of Emacs modes like ws-butler potentially causing problems by overzealously stripping trailing whitespace from inside string literals.)

  2. PAX emacs commands only started respecting the :dynenv directive in version 0.2.1 which at this time of writing has not yet landed in Quicklisp. If you update transcripts using an older version of the PAX Emacs Lisp code the environment (random seed) won't be locked down and the consistency checks might fail.