ATI has released the beta version of RenderMonkey, a new shader development toolset which the company previewed at Siggraph last month. The RenderMonkey toolset is designed to work on any DirectX 8.1 (or better) compliant graphics card -- not just ATI hardware -- and provides tools for programmers and artists to create shaders in a collaborative environment.
RenderMonkey uses a workspace view that has been modeled after the Visual Studio GUI. The IDE shows the effect being edited, an output window for compilation results and text messages from the application, a window to preview effects being edited, as well as space for other editor modules (like editors for shaders themselves or GUI editors for shader parameters).
RenderMonkey has editors for vertex and pixel shaders, and supports the Microsoft shader compiler as well as DirectX 8. Support is planned for DirectX 9 and OpenGL shader models as well.
ATI provides some sample shader workspaces as a starting point for developers, including ones for bump mapping, metallic effects, terrain effects, non-photorealistic effects, noise effects (fire, clouds) and water effects.
RenderMonkey can be downloaded freely from the ATI web site.