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Technical specifications on supported text

Input code pages and text encoding

Regardless of the source, JavaScript converts all the text it handles into UTF-16. UTF-16 is based on Unicode and is compatible with UTF-8, and backwards compatible with ISO-8859-1 and US-ASCII. But otherwise, all other loaded text needs to be transcoded to display all characters accurately.

Character set Support About
US-ASCII Browser The original text encoding of the Internet, also known as ANSI X3.4 or ISO 646
CP-437 Yes The most common encoding for ASCII, ANSI art and MS-DOS text
CP-1252 Yes Also called Windows-1252 or Windows ANSI, it's backwards compatible with ISO-8859-1 and was the default encoding for legacy Windows
ISO-8859-1 Browser The replacement for US-ASCII that supported twice as many characters and was the default encoding for the Commodore Amiga and legacy Linux
ISO-8859-15 Yes A replacement for ISO-8859-1 that added some missing characters such as the sign
SHIFT JIS Browser A legacy Japanese encoding used by Shift JIS art
UTF-8 Browser The current standard encoding for HTML4/5 and many documents, it supports over a hundred thousand characters
UTF-16 Browser The Unicode implementation used by JavaScript and many documents not written in the Latin alphabet
CP-1250, CP-1251, ISO-8859-5 Yes Encodings that are mistakenly used by Chromium when viewing ANSI and ASCII art

BBS colour codes

BBS colour codes from the early 1990s were a natural means of applying colour to text served in bulletin board system user interfaces.

Format Support Notes
Celerity pipe | codes Yes
PCBoard @ codes Yes
Renegade pipe | codes Yes
Synchronet codes No Uses /x01
Telegard ` codes Yes
Wildcat! @ codes Yes
WWIV heart codes Yes Uses /x03
WWIV pipe |# codes Yes
WWIV pipe | colors Yes

Input control sequences

Control sequences are strings of characters embedded into the text as cursor, display and presentation functions. ANSI art uses control sequences for both its colourisation and cursor positioning, as do remote terminals used by many Linux and Unix systems such as xterm.

Standard Support Notes
ANSI.SYS Partial MS-DOS command prompt driver commonly used with ANSI art
ECMA-6 Partial Also known as US-ASCII or ANSI X3.4 C0 controls
ECMA-48 Partial Also known as ANSI escape codes, ANSI X3.64, VT-100, ISO 6429

ANSI.SYS support

Microsoft's MS-DOS ANSI.SYS driver supported a limited subset of ANSI X3.64 control sequences and introduced some non-standard functions. Most ANSI art uses sequences that target the ANSI.SYS implementation of text controls.

RetroTxt recognises all ANSI.SYS control sequences but skips those that it doesn't support.

Control Support Notes
Cursor Position Partial Supports forward and down only
Cursor Up No
Cursor Down Yes
Cursor Forward Yes
Cursor Backward No
Save cursor position No
Restore cursor position No
Erase display Yes
Erase line Yes
Set Graphics Mode Yes All colours and attributes are supported
Set Mode / Reset Mode Yes RetroTxt changes the font type and column width but does not attempt to simulate the screen resolution
Set Mode / Reset Mode 7 Yes Set and disable line wrapping
Set Keyboard Strings No

SAUCE support

SAUCE created by Olivier "Tasmaniac" Reubens of ACiD is a metadata protocol for scene artworks. These are parsed by RetroTxt to determine text formatting and also authorship results shown in the Text & font information header.

Name Used Displayed Notes
ID Yes No
Version Yes No
Title Yes Yes
Author Yes Yes
Group Yes Yes
Date Yes Yes
FileSize No
DataType No
FileType No
TInfo1 Partial Yes When it exists it is used to set Character width (columns of text)
TInfo2 No
TInfo3 No
TInfo4 No
Comments Yes Yes
TFlags Partial Yes See ANSiFlags below
TInfoS Partial Yes


ANSiFlags allow an author of ANSi and similar files to provide a clue to a viewer/editor how to render the image.

Flag Name Used Notes
B Non-blink mode Yes iCE colors
LS Letter-spacing Yes
AR Aspect Ratio No

ECMA-48 support

ECMA-48 forms the basis of ISO 6429, both of which are the current and acceptable standards for text control sequences. ECMA-48 expands on ANSI X3.64 (withdrawn 1997) which first popularised escape sequences in the late 1970s with the DEC VT100 computer.

The following chart lists the limited ECMA-48 sequences that RetroTxt supports.

Control Acronym Value Support Notes
Cursor Forward Tabulation CHT Yes Acts as 4 forward movements
Cursor Down CUD Yes
Cursor Forward CUF Yes
Cursor Position CUP Partial Supports forward and down only
Erase in Display ED
to end of page ED 0 Partial Only goes to the end of the line
to beginning of page ED 1 Yes
erase all ED 2 Yes
Erase in Line EL
to end of line EL 0 Yes
erase line to cursor EL 1 No
erase whole line EL 2 Yes
Horizontal Vertical Position HVP Partial Supports forward and down only
Select Graphic Rendition SGR
bold SGR 1 Yes
faint SGR 2 Yes
italic SGR 3 Yes
underline SGR 4 Yes
blink slow SGR 5 Yes
blink fast SGR 6 Yes
inverse SGR 7 Yes
conceal SGR 8 Yes
crossed out SGR 9 Yes
font normal SGR 10 Yes
alternative font 1 SGR 11 Yes IBM BIOS
alternative font 2 SGR 12 Yes IBM CGA
alternative font 3 SGR 13 Yes IBM CGA thin
alternative font 4 SGR 14 Yes Commodore Amiga Topaz
alternative font 5 SGR 15 Yes IBM EGA 8x14
alternative font 6 SGR 16 Yes IBM EGA 9x14
alternative font 7 SGR 17 Yes IBM VGA 8x14
alternative font 8 SGR 18 Yes IBM VGA 9x14
alternative font 9 SGR 19 Yes IBM MDA
Fraktur font SGR 20 Yes Germanic Gothic font
Eagle Spirit PC Alt 3 fantasy inspired font
double underline SGR 21 Yes
not bold nor faint SGR 22 Yes
not italic nor Fraktur SGR 23 Yes
not underline SGR 24 Yes
steady SGR 25 Yes No blinking
positive image SGR 27 Yes Not inverse
revealed characters SGR 28 Yes Not concealed
not crossed out SGR 29 Yes
foreground colours SGR 30…37 Yes
foreground 256 colours SGR 38;5;0…255 Yes Known as xterm 256 but not an ECMA-48 standard
foreground RGB colours SGR 38;2;R;G;B; Yes ISO-8613-3 24-bit colour support, not an ECMA-48 standard
revert to default foreground SGR 39 Yes
background colours SGR 40…47 Yes
background 256 colours SGR 48;5;0…255 Yes Known as xterm 256 but not an ECMA-48 standard
background RGB colours SGR 48;2;R;G;B; Yes ISO-8613-3 24-bit colour support, not an ECMA-48 standard
revert to default background SGR 49 Yes
framed SGR 51 Yes
encircled SGR 52 Yes
overlined SGR 53 Yes
not framed nor encircled SGR 54 Yes
not overlined SGR 55 Yes
bold foreground colours SGR 90…97 Yes Non-standard IBM AIX terminal
bright background colours SGR 100…107 Yes Non-standard IBM AIX terminal (* requires iCE colours to be enabled)

Miscellaneous support

Other common non-standard sequences agreed to by the ANSI art community

Control Acronym Value Support Notes
background RGB colours - 0;R;G;Bt Yes PabloDraw 2014 24-bit ANSI implementation
foreground RGB colours - 1;R;G;Bt Yes PabloDraw 2014 24-bit ANSI implementation
Blink to Bright Intensity Background - ?33h Yes SyncTERM
Blink normal - ?33l Yes SyncTERM