Aegisub / Sidebar / History of Automation

The Automation system in Aegisub has evolved from a very basic and hardly useful stand-alone system for creating basic karaoke effects into a very powerful extension mechanism. Here's a short account of its history, from the principal author of the systems.

Automation 1, really just Karaoke Effector

Effector screenshot.png

The Karaoke Effector program was originally created for making karaoke effects for a small translation project, that later died. It was written in Borland Delphi and used Lua 5.0 for scripting. This use of Lua is the primary reason I even call it "Automation 1" today. It basically allowed creating effects similar to what the simple-k-replacer script from Automation 3 does, but in a more complicated and not as usable way.

If you want to try this relic from the museum, you can download it here:

Automation 2, the Python engine that never happened

Automation 2 was intended to be the scripting system in Aegisub, I drafted the specifications for it while Aegisub was still only in internal pre-alpha development. It was planned to use Python for scripting language and be quite flexible. It just proved to be an overall bad design (which on hindsight might have been a good thing) and it was never implemented. Instead I started looking into Lua again and drafting what became Automation 3.

I don't think there's much of any proof of the work on Automation 2 left now. The main thing to be said about it is that the current Automation 4 achieves everything Automation 2 was intended to be, and even more.

Automation 3, back to Lua and something usable

After the fiasco of Automation 2 and Python I went "browsing languages" again and ended up going back to Lua, and also went for a much less ambitious design. This proved to work and ended up as the Automation 3 system. Originally Automation 3 was also intended to be somewhat extensible and down the road support more than just the basic modification of subtitle lines, this is evident from the kind="basic_ass" statement required in all Automation 3 scripts. Unfortunately the overall architecture of Automation 3 in the end didn't allow it to be extended either way, and the first rough ideas for Automation 4 started forming.

In the end Automation 3 did prove very successful though and has done a great job.

Automation 4, unlimited feature works?


As the flaws of Automation 3 started showing through the design of Automation 4 begun. Lots of people had been crying for other languages, especially Perl and Python, so support for multiple scripting languages went into the core design. The development of Automation 4 was much on and off, standing still for months at a time. Originally it was planned for Aegisub 1.09, then got pushed to 1.10 and then finally to 1.11, which then grew into Aegisub 2 because of the load of new features and major redesigns in that version, Automation 4 one of them.

In mid-May 2006 Automation 4/Lua was finally in a "working" state, if I am to trust the timestamp of hello-auto4.png but first now, more than a year later, it's really useful. A testament to my laziness.

- Niels Martin Hansen, July 2nd, 2007