It's Alive!

Alpha 0.95 Release

How to install It's Alive!
How to use It's Alive!
Background Why It's Alive! is different from your average word processor  
Contact Info Send email to both lewis@interval and weyers@interval  

This is experimental software. Use at your own risk. Save all other documents before working with this software.

WindowsNT. Minimum 8MB on video card; 16 - 32MB preferable.    

Simple Installation

Create a folder called It's Alive! somewhere on your hard drive. Unzip It'sAlive!.zip into it.    


Getting Started

Open ItsAlive!.exe.

A window will open up with a white background. Somewhere on it will be a small circle with lines sticking out in the four cardinal directions. This is your cursor.

Click on the canvas. The cursor should relocate to where you clicked. (If you just get an error beep when you click, hit ALT. This will bring up the splashscreen, which has been hiding. Click on the splashscreen.)

Type something. The text will appear starting at the cursor.

Right-click. A pie menu appears. This is your main menu for the entire application. Operate it by moving the mouse (while keeping the button donw) to the quadrant you are interested in. From there it works like any other cascading menu.

Select some texy by left-clicking and dragging the mouse over it. Right-click to activate the pie menu. Move into typographic: form:font. Runing the mouse up-and-down your list of fonts. This will change the font of the selected text objects as you go. Mouseup when you have the font you want.

Your selected text objects should still be selected; if not, select them again. Activate the pie-menu. Move into behaviors:add. Select the "cruise" behavior.

Activate the pie menu. Move into behaviors:simulate. Select it. The text objects that you had selected should begin cruising around the screen in a random manner.

Use the mouse to select some text objects. This is a little tricky while they're moving but not impossible. Activate the pie menu. Move to typographic:render. Select "pull". Now run your mouse over those text objects.


For examples of documents which have been made with It's Alive!, look in the "Examples" folder which came in the Zip archive. Open one up. If nothing happens, then activate the pie menu and select behaviors:simulate. Try them all.



Pie Menu


Basic Editing

There are three ways to select a glyph, word or passage object.

1. Dragging Mouse-down and drag across the text. This will select all of the glyph objects within an imaginary square formed by your mouse as it moves across the screen.

2. Double-click Double-click once on a glyph to select the glyph. Click again and select the word to which the glyph belongs. Click a fourth time and select the passage to which the glyph belongs.

3. Selection Menu If you have any object selected, right-click to bring up the pie menu. The right-hand menu is the selection menu. By moving over it you see a choice of chunk sizes. Choose the size chunk you wish to have selected.

Select the object you want to move and use the mouse to move it.

Inserting, Deleting
Clicking on a glyph will place the cursor to the right of that glyph. You can begin typing or deleting from that point.

More complex formatting, such as margins, kerning, leading, tracking, etc. will appear in the next version. We focused this version on things that other programs do not already do fine.




Pie Menu: Typographic

Right-click. The choice above the pie menu is "typographic". Use this menu to modify the basic font properties of a text object.


  • font: shows all fonts presently in the system, with face variations if available
  • size: in a very Stalinist move, the current version only gives you a choice of six different, relative sizes. The next version will provide a direct input box.
  • weight / width /slant: inoperative at the moment.

If you mouse-up on the color field, you will get the standard Windows color picker. Or you can move over one more level in the menu and choose from several preset colors.

This is a misnomer. This should read SoftType, because this is where you choose to apply SoftType fonts to text objects. SoftType lets you make letterforms do crazy things in response to time and/or user interaction. The current choices are particle, lens, pull, pulse, scatter and test.

Set the background color to one of the pre-defined colors.

In the next version you can use this to designate what part of speech a particular word is, and then have behaviors interact with that word based on that information.

Typographic Menu


Pie Menu: Selection

Right-click. The choice on the right is the "selection" menu. This menu allows you to select different chunks of text. If you have selected a passage and want to select all the words in the passage individually, you would choose "words" from this menu.

Selection Menu


Pie Menu: Behaviors

Right-click. The choice on the bottom is the "behavior" menu.

Apply behaviors to a selected text object. A more in-depth description of the various behaviors is here.

Remove behaviors from a selected text object.

Turn the dynamics/interactivity on.

Lerp All:
Don't ask. It doesn't work.

Behaviors Menu


Pie Menu: File Access

Right-click. The choice on the left is the "file access" menu.

Create a new document. Warning: As this is a one-document environment, creating a new document will erase all of what is in the present document. And you will not get any warning, like "Do you want to save the present document?"

Load a previously saved document. The documents produced by It's Alive! have the .vlt extension on them.

Save a document.

Start QT capture:
If you have QuickTime installed on your machine, this will start a QuickTime capture of the canvas. Performance: Capturing to QuickTime will slow things down. To get the best capture, resize the window to the smallest possible size.

Show/Hide Hiearachy:
This turns on the "spider" display, showing you how different text objects are connected. This is also toggled by hitting "esc".

Show/Hide Property Panel:
The property panel shows some basic information about the selected text object. The next version will have a complete list of the behaviors on the object, and will allow you to change basic properties such as font and location directly.

Show/Hide Timeline:
The Timeline is merely a placeholder at the moment.

Quit the program. Warning: You will not get any warning, like "Do you want to save before closing?"

File Access Menu



The only item of interest here is Property Panel. If you pull it down you can choose to show/hide the panel (which you can also do in the File Access section of the pie menu) and to make the panel transparent. Performance: Making this panel transparent will cause a noticeable speed degradation.

Problem with Invisible Panels?

If you choose to show the property panel (or the About It's Alive! panel under Help), it may not appear. Hit ALT.


Performance Issues

It's Alive! is doing a number of things in real-time which other programs force you to render out. We have yet to completely optimize the code so that it runs fast all of the time. Here are some performance issues to consider:

  • If you have numerous text objects on the screen and/or numerous behaviors applied, the performance will degrade.
  • The larger the window in which you are working, the more the performance will degrade. Keep the window relatively small (approx. 800 x 600) to keep performance.
  • QuickTime capture degrades performance
  • The Property Panel set to transparent degrades performance.
  • It's Alive! grabs as many cycles as it came from the OS. This means that other applications running simultaneously will slow down considerably.