Technical Discussion: "Bit-Mapped Graphics"

"Bit-Mapped Graphics"
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TECHbooks
1991-04-30 15:32:54 EST
This book, written by Steve Rimmer, is the book that many people have been
looking for. It presents the file formats for MacPaint, GEM/IMG, PC
Paintbrush (PCX), GIF and TIFF files. Although it's written for the PC user,
the information would probably be useful to any programmer who wanted to use
these files. Special attention is paid to the complexity of writing for the
PC, where you might be using a Hercules (mono/graphics), CGA, EGA, or VGA
card to display the images. Also, you're shown how to reproduce the graphics
on dot matrix, LaserJet, and PostScript printers (with the author's caveat
that some images are going to look lousy --- the printer available to the
average mortal is just not going to do 256 colors).

Starting with chapter one, you learn the basics of how image files work, and
the basics of how you might program them in C or assembly language. Chapter
two is devoted to the "Secrets of MacPaint Files": the header, how to unpack,
how to pack it up again. Chapter three is on GEM/IMG format files, which
would be of most interest to Ventura Publisher users. Chapter four covers
PC Paintbrush format: monochrome, 16-color, and 256-color PCX format files.
From the book: "It's [PC Paintbrush file format] a good example of what
happens when one does not build some future into one's present plans. ...
the PC Paintbrush format actually is several formats in one, with lots of
hacks and patches tacked onto it to drag it kicking and screaming into the
nineties."

Chapter five is devoted to the wonders of GIF file decoding: the GIF header,
LZW compression and decompression, plus a decoder specifically for the
VGA card. "GIF files are not so much an exercise in imaging, then, as they
are an application of data compression theory." Between chapters five and
six (which is devoted to GIF encoding), you'll learn how to do this type of
compression in both C and assembly language.

Chapter seven is devoted to TIFF 4.0 files, but warns that covering this
format in detail is beyond the scope of the book. Instead of covering all
possibilities, Rimmer talks about the theory and how to work with the majority
of TIFF files. "TIFF gurus will unquestionably object to this."

Chapter eight talks of the complexities of writing software for the Hercules
(mono/graphics) card. Chapter nine discusses writing software for EGA, VGA,
and Super VGA cards.

Chapter ten is devoted to printing and encapsulated PostScript Files. Code
is given for printing bitmaps to dot matrix, LaserJet, and PostScript printers.
More interesting are the programs that create EPS files from a GIF image,
one which also creates a TIFF format file so that you can preview the image
before printing (the number of programs that can display EPS files is still
very small). There's also a "Graphics Catalog" program that will print out
GIF format files sixteen to a page, complete with filename, so that you can
see what's out there on your hard disk.

Chapter eleven is on dithering, using the Floyd-Steinberg, Stucki, Burkes,
and other filters to translate color images to black-and-white dots. Included
are sample programs that use extended and/or expanded memory to speed up the
conversion process.

Chapter twelve is devoted to converting among the different file formats,
such as PCX to GIF or vice versa. Two appendixes cover compiling with the
Microsoft C, Turbo C, and QuickC compilers plus more details on the TIFF 4.0
format.

Word of mouth on this book has been excellent. File formats in general and
graphics file formats in particular have been ignored for the most part. For
anyone interested in manipulating graphics files in the DOS/Amiga/Mac realm,
this would seem like a valuable book to have handy.

"Bit-Mapped Graphics" is written by Steve Rimmer and published by Windcrest
Books, an imprint of TAB Books, which in turn is a division of McGraw-Hill.
Published in 1990, its ISBN is 0-8306-3558-0, and the list price is $26.95.

Note: with ISBN number, author, and publisher, you may be able to have
your local bookstore or library order this book for you.
--
Voice: +1 503 646-8257 FAX: +1 503 248-6320 orders@techbook.com - or -
Public Access UNIX site: +1 503 644-8135 ...!uunet!techbook!orders
TECHbooks sells technical (and other) books at discounted prices.
Authorized SCO and ESIX resellers.

Mike McDonald
1991-05-01 10:18:50 EST
I have the book and think it is ok; as a trainer. The author does not provide
any of the key graphic formats that would have made the book more useful than
just a PC graphic trainer. The author also decides to do most of his GIF decoding
in assembly, which leaves thoughs unfamiliar with PC graphics & assembly not
knowing what happened.
For anyone wanting a brief overview of PC graphics & some brief info. about different graphic file formats (that are not provided), I recommend the book.

b*c@inside.happy.meal
Mike McDonald

Chet T Laughlin
1991-05-01 13:57:38 EST

Perhaps you could recommend a better book for more advanced
programmers interested in the file formats and C code.
I can program in assembler, but I'd rather have the code
in C to start with. Specifically what graphic
formats do you think should have been covered that
were not?

+-----------------------------------------------------+
| Chet Laughlin chetl@sparc21.tamu.edu |
| I have no opinions, my lawyers told me so. My |
| existance is currently under debate. |
+-----------------------------------------------------+
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