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AKFAvatar 0.17.0 released

Item posted by Andreas K. Förster <akf> on Thu 25 Jun 2009 07:44:08 AM UTC.

AKFAvatar 0.17.0 is released.

  • new support for the AU audio format (including µ-law and A-law)
  • new support for the "raw" audio data (including µ-law and A-law)
  • XPM is now supported without SDL_image
  • for color definitions you can now use color names in plain English (X11 names)
  • in the filechooser entries are alphabetically sorted now
  • new default avatar, additional avatar-images in the package
  • removed support for the environment variable AVATARDATADIR - data files are now supposed to be in the same directory as the demo-script
  • in the Pascal-binding the command "sound" now works to some extent
  • the ABI has changed: don't mix new programs with an old library or vice versa (mainly relevant for Windows)
  • fixing some bugs with regard to colors
  • documentation updated

In earlier versions I mainly supported the BMP format and the Wave format, both are Microsoft formats. They increasingly go around and try to collect license-fees for their stuff. So I was convinced to implement alternative formats. The Microsoft formats are still usable with AKFAvatar if you want to, but you don't have to anymore. Well, the code for Wave and BMP support doesn't infringe any Copyrights, since no code from them is used, I don't know about any patents on that formats, and trademark law doesn't even touch code implementations. So from the mere legal point of view, it should be safe. Unfortunately they use the nebulous term "intellectual property", which doesn't mean anything in particular, so they still could claim that it's theirs.

AKFAvatar now supports SUN AU audio files with linear PCM, µ-law or A-law encodings. The encodings µ-law and A-law can be seen as a weak audio compression. They store each sample in 8 Bits, but it sounds much better than 8-Bit linear PCM! It can read AU files with 24 or 32 Bit PCM, but they are only played as 16-Bit audio.

Also "raw" audio data is supported now with linear PCM, µ-law or A-law encoding. This could be used to implement support for other audio file formats outside of the main library.

Note that "µ-law" is also often called "mu-law", "u-law" or "U-law" - that is all the same encoding. But "A-law" is a different one.

For images the XPM format is improved. AKFAvatar can now also read XPM files when SDL_image is not installed. The XPM format is better suited for avatar-images, because it supports transparency. For BMP I had to do a very dirty hack to achieve that. XPM is also much better for programmers, because the files can easily be included in code, especially in C code. But there is also one drawback: XPM files with lots of colors can get very large. So better just use few colors. You can still use SDL_image with AKFAvatar, which supports a number of other image formats.

For the program "avatarsay" the old datadir concept was removed. The environment variable AVATARDATADIR is no longer supported. Now the working-directory is the datadir. When running demo-scripts from the command-line, the directory is changed accordingly. You can still change the directory from inside your demo-script with the datadir command though.

Furthermore some problems with the color of the balloon-shadow and the background-color were fixed.

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