Somnium - An Online Text Art Gallery

Written by snotrag


I've always loved ansi art. Ansi is, in its very special way, much more beautiful than any other form of digital art. But that's not what this article is about. So let's get lost...

+(the real thing)+

Just recently I've stumbled across an orange-colored webpage with the nifty-sounding title "somnium - the idle dreams pack viewer". And boy, this page rocks definately. It is an online text art gallery which is all based upon a database. After applying for an account, ansigroup admins can upload their current pack, and the scripts care for the rest: the archive is unpacked, the artwork stored and a webpage with thumbnails generated for direct reviewing in your favourite browser. Somnium uses iCE's recently released ansi converter for creating the thumbs and viewing the files. Soon after discovering the site I decided to contact lordscarlet for an interview to create the article you're reading right now.

+(the interview)+

[LS=lordscarlet^cia, Hugi=snotrag^ for Hugi]

Hugi: Let's start with something about yourself. How old are you?

LS: I'm 20.

Hugi: When did you start with "scene" stuff then?

LS: I got into the scene in 1993/'94 and onto IRC in 1994. I've been around around on and off since then. I had probably been bbs'ing since 1990.

Hugi: Do you draw yourself?

LS: Yes. I haven't drawn in about six months but my most recent stuff can be found in the cia packs from late '98 / early '99.

Hugi: So when did you have the idea to start this online project?

LS: Well, for a long while I wanted to make an online BBS using ansis... when I first saw the early version of iCE's ansi converter. But I decided that it wouldn't be worth the time for the number of people that would use it. That went to the back of my mind until v2 came out. Everyone was going CRAZY about the ansi gallery, and I had just recently started doing online database stuff and I realized how EASY it would be to code... If you don't know, a group that has an account on somnium can upload a pack, and from the moment the upload is finished it is up for viewing.

Hugi: So a group gets their very own login and pw and upload their zip, and the rest is done automatically?

LS: Yep.

[LS putting his lunch in the microwave]

Hugi: When did somnium finally go online?

LS: Eehrm... June 27th (1999 of course).

Hugi: The whole thing is hosted by

LS: Yes. The server admin there has been really helpful to me... it started out with free service but I flet the need to pay for it. So I have a regular account there now.

Hugi: Did you have a lot of feedback since going online?

LS: Everyone I've talked to LOVES it, we had only one major bug which could easily be solved. I've had a couple of people talk to me about expanding the services somnium offers, but I think mostly people are using it when packs come out - and that's all I want. From the response I got it seems that several people are interested in using somnium as a way to get feedback on their ansis.

Hugi: You mean some sort of charts?

LS: Well, some simply mentioned ratings. But there was one person that suggested actual feedback, so that attached for any given ansi, the people viewing it could make suggestions/comments/etc. and leave it attached to the ansi for the artist to see...

Hugi: Are you currently working on something?

LS: Not yet working, but I plan to add either a voting section to rank packs/ansis or just a staff-run reviewing system. I'm not sure which... I have mixed feelings about both, but there will definitely be some sort of review system. I'd also like to put in a "classics" section, and I had a suggestion to add a section where an individual artist could upload a compilation of his/her work. I'm ALWAYS open to suggestions, I want this site to be as useful to the scene public as possible.

Hugi: Okay. Let's get to the technical stuff... Everything is based on php3?

LS: Yes, and iCE's ansiconv of course.

Hugi: What file formats are accepted for upload?

LS: Zip only. I hadn't thought about adding anything else (grins).

Hugi: And then... *.ans is extracted out of the zip and put online?

LS: Essentially, yes. (Some groups have something like *.ice, so they're pulled out and then renamed to *.ans.) All of the group's information can be changed by the user, except for internal stuff (such as the directory the files go into).

Hugi: What about *.asc?

LS: They work.

[snotrag playing around with his test account...]

Hugi: Oh. A file_id.diz is also converted to .ans if it's there...

LS: Yep. As well as *.mem, *.nfo, *.txt,... For some reason .nfo's seem to get doubled. Don't know why that is... I'll look into it when I have some time. I'm having to deal with a number of real life issues right now (grins).

Hugi: Well then, thanks for taking your time. See ya!

LS: No problem. Bye!

Somnium is located at

- snotrag^