Why release yet another Open Source rendering toolkit?

Because ART has a few features which are still unique, and some others which are at least very uncommon, amongst OSS renderers: these are listed in the features section of the “About” page.

Who is the target audience for ART?

ART is probably only interesting for graphics researchers, and maybe also for a few dedicated graphics enthusiasts who want to experiment with spectral rendering, polarisation and fluorescence, and who are not afraid of command lines.

Unfortunately, in its current form, it is not going to be really useful for normal end users, i.e. 3D artists who are working on commercial projects. Due to primarily being a research effort, ART lacks a lot of features one takes for granted in a modern rendering system. A list of current shortcomings can be found here.

Why is ART already at version 2.x? Where is ART 1.x?

ART versions 0.x and 1.x were never released to the public, and only used internally at several research institutions. The source of these earlier versions will not be released.

What is the maturity level of the ART codebase?

Unfortunately, still rather mixed. Some of it works fairly well, and is properly documented. But there are also still plenty of bugs, missing features, undocumented subsystems, and stability issues. But the basic functionality showcased in the gallery scenes is reasonably stable, and should work. And the handbook documents at least part of the system.

Why is ART being released under the GPLv3?

Because ART development was funded by the taxpayers in at least two countries: initially AT, and later CZ. Funding was supplied via research grants and university staff salaries: at least so far, all those involved were either university employees, or students. As the development of this software was entirely funded by the general public, the license it is released under should, at least in our opinion, be as free as possible.

I plan to use ART for some research work. How should I acknowledge the project?

For now, please simply state the version of ART which you based your work on, and provide a link to the project page at Charles University (i.e. these pages).

I want to use ART for some commercial purpose.

Be our guest. This is what Open Source Software is about: you can do with it what you want. Please stay aware of the fact that ART is under the GPL: so the one thing you cannot use it for is to build a closed source product.

What is it with the unimaginative project name?

Advanced Rendering Toolkit” either sounds bland or boastful, depending on one’s perspective. Plus it is an expression which will, pretty much by definition, not age well.

However, ART is just a working title which stuck: we never actually intended the system to be called like this. In 1996, when Robert F. Tobler started this project, there were multiple brainstorming sessions to find a proper name. Unfortunately, all really good acronyms which crossed our mind had already been taken, and we could not think of anything else. Eventually, we decided to “let’s go with a working title for now, and decide on a proper name later”.

Yeah, right. That was a quarter century ago. So much for temporary solutions.

A technical reason why we did not do a name change right before public release is that C and Objective-C lack namespaces. All data type and class names in ART have always had a prefix of Ar..., and changing that now would have been a nightmare. Besides, without the ART project acronym, there would be no real reason to call the command line renderer artist. Which, together with its RPC control application impresario, makes for a neat pair of app names.