Fractal fun

Zoom in and out of fractals smoothly with this fun freeware.

GNU XaoS 3.5 is a free, open source fractal generator and "zoomer" that offers smooth, fluid navigational movement as you zoom in or out of a fractal. It includes 24 well-known fractal formulas with many possible variations in effects and appearance, but you can also use it to generate your own fractals. It offers effects like a starfield generator, embossing, motion blur, pseudo 3D mode, and even a text display.

The program's 32-bit installation executable includes the 64-bit version for recent editions of Windows like Vista and 7, both of which we used for testing. The simple, efficient, dialog-based interface opens with the iconic Mandelbrot set, the first-ever fractal, displayed in the main window. Mouse buttons control the zoom; left clicks zoom in; right clicks zoom out. There are no other controls as such, only file menus, including a Help file that offers animated tutorials explaining what fractals are, how the program works, and its many configuration options. These include menus for choosing fractals, setting their mathematical calculations, applying filters, and controlling the program's motion. However, the simplest and best way to get acquainted with Xaos is to click on a part of the fractal and start zooming in. If your mind isn't blown in seconds, give it time: Fractals are amazing, astounding, beautiful. and gigantic fun.

We've used fractal software for many years, and it's always been fun and fascinating, not to mention educational, even when it came on a floppy and ran in Windows 95. XaoS is a sure keeper.

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