Subject: fractint
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen)
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 23:28:59 -0400 (EDT)

[posted to the Free Software Business mailing list, fsb@crynwr.com;
 cross-posted to the Fractint list fractint@lists.xmission.com so
 people know I'm talking about them.  Anyone on either list who wants
 me to forward responses from the other list to them, let me know.
 Alternatively, if you think my post needs correction, I'll forward
 your correction of me to the appropriate list :) ]

I don't know how many of you fsbers are familiar with fractint.
Briefly, it's the best fractal plotter ever, and it has been for
something like ten years.

It's unique in that it's open-source-almost-all-the-way MS-DOS
software.  All the original developers met each other on Compuserve and
exchanged code there.  It always shipped with full source, and its
license was always rather liberal.  Here's the copyright statement from
version 19.5 (about a year and a half old, I think:)

  Fractint is an experiment in collaboration. Many volunteers have joined
  Bert Tyler, the program's first author, in improving successive
  versions.  Through electronic mail messages, CompuServe's GO GRAPHICS
  forums, new versions are hacked out and debugged a little at a time.
  Fractint was born fast, and none of us has seen any other fractal
  plotter close to the present version for speed, versatility, and all-
  around wonderfulness. (If you have, tell us so we can steal somebody
  else's ideas instead of each other's.)  See The Stone Soup Story
  (p. 167) and A Word About the Authors (p. 168) for information about the
  authors, and see Contacting the Authors (p. 170) for how to contribute
  your own ideas and code.

  Fractint is freeware. The copyright is retained by the Stone Soup Group.

  Fractint may be freely copied and distributed in unmodified form but may
  not be sold. (A nominal distribution fee may be charged for media and
  handling by freeware and shareware distributors.) Fractint may be used
  personally or in a business - if you can do your job better by using
  Fractint, or using images from it, that's great! It may not be given
  away with commercial products without explicit permission from the Stone
  Soup Group.

  There is no warranty of Fractint's suitability for any purpose, nor any
  acceptance of liability, express or implied.

   **********************************************************************
   * Contribution policy: Don't want money. Got money. Want admiration. *
   **********************************************************************

  Source code for Fractint is also freely available - see Distribution of
  Fractint (p. 169).  See the FRACTSRC.DOC file included with the source
  for conditions on use.  (In most cases we just want credit.)

(Digression: This document is actually generated from Fractint's online
hypertext help.  All the hypertext links have been transformed into
page numbers.  This is a nice feature I wish I had for printing HTML,
and haven't seen anywhere else.)

But this isn't the most interesting part.  What's interesting is what's
happening now on the fractint@lists.xmission.com list.

Fractint has the ability to, among other things:
- use user-defined formulas (interpreted at runtime) to generate fractals;
- parametrize fractal types;
- apply different coloring methods and sets of colors to a particular image;
- zoom, pan, rotate, etc., of course.
- save all the parameters necessary to generate a particular image in a 
compact text form and load them later.

What's happening now is that people are sharing code like you wouldn't
believe.  People who haven't written a line of code in their lives,
artsy people!  (Mathy people too, of course.  :)  One person will post
a neat formula and some sets of parameters that bring out nice features
of it; another person will post some other sets of parameters that
bring out other nice features; a third person will find a nicer way to
color the second person's work.

This is really amazing to me -- although I guess it's natural.  Cooks
have always done this with recipes.

What next?

Kragen