ImageKnife/VBX 2.0

by Steven Jeavock - GUI Computing
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Since we have never reviewed ImageKnife/VBX 1.0, developed by Media Architects, an overview of the latest version might be in order.

ImageKnife/VBX 2.0 provides the VB developer with the ability to incorporate various imaging techniques and image formats into an application. The package comes in two varieties, standard and professional. The professional includes additional support for TWAIN compliant devices (such as scanners and cameras), JPEG 24 bit compression format, as well as CCIT group 3/4 multi-page TIFF, whilst the standard range of formats includes BMP, DIB, GIF, PCX, TIF, TGA and FIF.

As well as displaying these image types, manipulations can be performed to them including rotation, smoothing, sharpening, colour reduction and increase, resizing, cropping, compositing, mirroring and colour or black and white reversal. The colour depth can be set to two, four, eight, sixteen and twenty-four bits and palettes can be optimised to perform a best-fit over numerous images. Version 2 now supports inclusion of text within an image as well as drawing methods such as polygon, rectangle, line etc.

One disappointing aspect of the new version is the lack of backwards compatibility with version 1 code. Function calls have changed, requiring existing projects developed under version 1 to be modified extensively. Properties that worked previously will no longer as the names, as well as the parameters, have been altered.

However, having said that, it is still a more comprehensive package than its main competitors, ImageMan and FXTools - from the point of view of image editing. If you only want to display various image formats, then ImageKnife is probably overkill. However its printing facilities lead the way, providing better scaling and positioning on the page than its rivals.

ImageKnife is available from GUI Computing at $349 for the standard and $479 for the Professional.

For those of you who don't already know, the GIF format now incurs royalties (since it uses a form of LZW compression, which in turn is now royalty driven by the license holders Unisys). Frequent travellers of Compuserve will probably have heard the furore over this issue, as the GIF format, I believe, was originally designed by them and Unisys have been chasing for their dues. Likewise the use of FIF (Fractal Image Format) is royalty driven, however Iterated Systems will allows a single payment per application.

Written by: Steve Jeavock
August 1995

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