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ArtWonk File Compatibility
ArtWonk files are downward compatible to the previous version, but not upward compatible. This means you can load an ArtWonk patch, macro, or function file created with the previous version of ArtWonk, but the previous version of ArtWonk can not load files created with a later version. This is mostly because later versions have additional modules.
Additionally, patches made with ArtWonk versions other than the previous one may not load unless you save them with a compatible version. When loading ArtWonk files made with earlier versions, you may get a message that says "Translated from..." instead of the normal, "Loaded from...." When you see that message, you only need to save the file and the translation becomes permanent.
Name Stamping Your Compositions
All compositions created by registered ArtWonk users will have their name stamped into the files, which is displayed on the status bar when the file is loaded. Files created by one registered user but modified by another will have both names listed.
Maximum Number of Modules
There is no maximum number of modules you can make with ArtWonk, other than what is imposed by the memory limitations of your computer. Patches have been created with thousands of modules. It is best to avoid having a large number of modules at any one macro level because only modules on the currently displayed page (macro level) receive graphics processing, and it is the graphics processing, such as updating the module output readouts, that take most of the CPU overhead.
Macro Nesting Depth
Macro nesting depth is virtually unlimited. Also, the overhead for macro processing is negligible. So it is much better to have a great many macros than just a few pages with a large number of modules per page. By breaking your patch into macros, it will be easier to understand when you come back to it later, and the patch will run smoother because there will be fewer modules at any one time that require display processing.CPU Loading Issues
For the most part, processing MIDI is far less CPU intensive than processing graphics or audio. So if you are using ArtWonk to generate MIDI, even very large and complex patches can coexist very well with software synthesizers and samplers on the same computer, running at the same time. A typical ArtWonk MIDI patch will run at under 10% of CPU load, often under 2%. However it is possible to load up on graphics intense components and run the CPU load right up to 100%. Almost always, a little judicious planning will prevent CPU overloads.
The main CPU resource eater is image processing. Images take more time to process because they are memory intensive. However the drawing graphics available in the Graphics modules take very little time because on most computers they utilize the graphics card video engine. Thus, it generally works well to use the drawing functions of Graphics modules with MIDI, but when you include image processing functions, it is much more difficult to maintain accurate MIDI timing. The rule of thumb is to let the overload indicator at the bottom right of the status bar be your guide. If it flickers a little there should not be a problem, but if it stays bright red most of the time, you need to either reduce the graphics load or increase the Main Loop interval.
ArtWonk uses zero latency, which means that when a note is created it is instantly sent out to MIDI with no timing lag (latency) other than the overhead of the MIDI driver itself. When ArtWonk is sending MIDI there is no detectable lag. However you will perceive lage when receiving MIDI, as from your keyboard. Not because there is noticeable lag receiving the MIDI data, but because ArtWonk modules are normally processed in discrete time quanta, the Loop intervals.
There is a cure for this, which is to use MIDI macros for input that needs to be processed and sent back out without lag. These modules are triggered by the MIDI input itself, not by the normal loop interval ticker, so processing from input to output is in microseconds, not milliseconds, and there will be virtually no perceptible lag no matter how complex your input processing.
Expanding Your Sound Options
While the built in Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth is good for starters, much richer sounding synths are available, many of them free. One of the best is the free Proteus VX, which is a software emulation of the famous Emu Proteus line of hardware sample synths. You can download it from the Creative web site page here. You will also need a MIDI Loop Back driver, also free. Discussed in the introduction page here.
Proteus VX comes with the first bank of 128 sounds in the Composer series, so right away the download supplies you 128 more sounds. You can expand that by visiting the Digital Sound Factory, who also offers the Proteus VX free download (you have to register with them to get it). Even better, they offer all the original Emu sampler sound sets. Not free but very reasonable. These sound sets are pristine quality and they are ready to go. In fact ArtWonk has almost all of them already set up in the Names folder. "Planet Earth" is a favorite and you can hear it in many of the DNA music files available on the Algorithmic Arts DNA Music page.
Running Multiple Instances of Artwonk
You can run any number of simultaneous instances of ArtWonk, computer memory and processing power permitting. The only issue you need to keep track of is how the Startup.awi initialization file is treated, so you don't loose options like MIDI Port settings. ArtWonk will use a 2nd .awi file for all instances other than the first one loaded, so if you use ArtWonk in a multiple instance configuration, you should run the "keeper" main instance always first, and it will preserve its settings in the regular .awi file. After that you can load other instances, which will always use the 2nd .awi file.
What's in a Name?
The name ArtWonk is "art" in its broad meaning, of a well crafted, creative and inspired work. This is what we take for granted you are interested in producing. And "wonk" which is "know" backwards, has been taken to mean knowledge-intensive. As you explore ArtWonk, you will come to realize it is not just a program for making music and art, it is also a deep pool of knowledge about algorithmic art process that you interact with and learn from as you create your own vision. Creativity comes only from within yourself, but ArtWonk can be a lamp that lights the way. With ArtWonk you are unlikely to produce what you expected, and practically guaranteed not to produce what everyone else expected.
None known at the time of release. But we want to know if you run into one (see below).
We want your feedback
Customer feedback - whether favorable, unfavorable, or just suggestions and wish list items - is essential to the process of making software that works well. We really do want to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your bug reports or suggestions.
ArtWonk is Copyright © 2003-2014 by John Dunn and Algorithmic Arts. All Rights Reserved.