Generating GDI+ Images for the Web

.NET’s Graphics Device Interface (GDI+) is Microsoft’s .NET wrapper around the native Win32 graphics API. It is used in Windows desktop applications to generate and manipulate images and graphical contexts, like those of Windows controls. It works through a set of operations like DrawString, DrawRectangle, etc, exposed by a Graphics instance, representing a graphical context and it is well known by advanced component developers. Alas, it is rarely used in web applications, because these mainly consist of HTML, but it is possible to use them. Let’s see how.

Let’s start by implementing a custom server-side control inheriting from Image:

   1: public class ServerImage: Image

   2: {

   3:     private System.Drawing.Image image;

   4:

   5:     public ServerImage()

   6:     {

   7:         this.ImageFormat = ImageFormat.Png;

   8:         this.CompositingQuality = CompositingQuality.HighQuality;

   9:         this.InterpolationMode = InterpolationMode.HighQualityBicubic;

  10:         this.Quality = 100L;

  11:         this.SmoothingMode = SmoothingMode.HighQuality;

  12:     }

  13:

  14:     public Graphics Graphics { get; private set; }

  15:

  16:     [DefaultValue(typeof(ImageFormat), "Png")]

  17:     public ImageFormat ImageFormat { get; set; }

  18:

  19:     [DefaultValue(100L)]

  20:     public Int64 Quality { get; set; }

  21:

  22:     [DefaultValue(CompositingQuality.HighQuality)]

  23:     public CompositingQuality CompositingQuality { get; set; }

  24:

  25:     [DefaultValue(InterpolationMode.HighQualityBicubic)]

  26:     public InterpolationMode InterpolationMode { get; set; }

  27:

  28:     [DefaultValue(SmoothingMode.HighQuality)]

  29:     public SmoothingMode SmoothingMode { get; set; }

  30:

  31:     protected override void OnInit(EventArgs e)

  32:     {

  33:         if ((this.Width == Unit.Empty) || (this.Height == Unit.Empty) || (this.Width.Value == 0) || (this.Height.Value == 0))

  34:         {

  35:             throw (new InvalidOperationException("Width or height are invalid."));

  36:         }

  37:

  38:         this.image = new Bitmap((Int32)this.Width.Value, (Int32)this.Height.Value);

  39:         this.Graphics = System.Drawing.Graphics.FromImage(this.image);

  40:         this.Graphics.CompositingQuality = this.CompositingQuality;

  41:         this.Graphics.InterpolationMode = this.InterpolationMode;

  42:         this.Graphics.SmoothingMode = this.SmoothingMode;

  43:

  44:         base.OnInit(e);

  45:     }

  46:

  47:     protected override void Render(HtmlTextWriter writer)

  48:     {

  49:         var builder = new StringBuilder();

  50:

  51:         using (var stream = new MemoryStream())

  52:         {

  53:             var codec = ImageCodecInfo.GetImageEncoders().Single(x => x.FormatID == this.ImageFormat.Guid);

  54:

  55:             var parameters = new EncoderParameters(1);

  56:             parameters.Param[0] = new EncoderParameter(System.Drawing.Imaging.Encoder.Quality, this.Quality);

  57:

  58:             this.image.Save(stream, codec, parameters);

  59:

  60:             builder.AppendFormat("data:image/{0};base64,{1}", this.ImageFormat.ToString().ToLower(), Convert.ToBase64String(stream.ToArray()));

  61:         }

  62:

  63:         this.ImageUrl = builder.ToString();

  64:

  65:         base.Render(writer);

  66:     }

  67:

  68:     public override void Dispose()

  69:     {

  70:         this.Graphics.Dispose();

  71:         this.Graphics = null;

  72:

  73:         this.image.Dispose();

  74:         this.image = null;

  75:

  76:         base.Dispose();

  77:     }

  78: }

Basically, this control discards the ImageUrl property and replaces it with a Data URI value generated from a stored context. You need to define the image’s Width and Height and you can also optionally specify other settings such as the image’s quality percentage (Quality), compositing quality (CompositingQuality), interpolation (InterpolationMode) and smoothing modes (SmootingMode). These settings can be used to improve the outputted image quality.

Finally, you use it like this. First, declare a ServerImage control on your page:

   1: <web:ServerImage runat="server" ID="image" Width="200px" Height="100px"/>

And then draw on its Context like you would in a Windows application:

   1: protected override void OnLoad(EventArgs e)

   2: {

   3:     this.image.Graphics.DrawString("Hello, World!", new Font("Verdana", 20, FontStyle.Regular, GraphicsUnit.Pixel), new SolidBrush(Color.Blue), 0, 0);

   4:

   5:     base.OnLoad(e);

   6: }

Basically, this control discards the ImageUrl property and replaces it with a Data URI value generated from a stored context. You need to define the image’s Width and Height and you can also optionally specify other settings such as the image’s quality percentage (Quality), compositing quality (CompositingQuality), interpolation (InterpolationMode) and smoothing modes (SmootingMode). These settings can be used to improve the outputted image quality.

Finally, you use it like this. First, declare a ServerImage control on your page:

   1: <web:ServerImage runat="server" ID="image" Width="200px" Height="100px"/>

And then draw on its Context like you would in a Windows application:

   1: protected override void OnLoad(EventArgs e)

   2: {

   3:     this.image.Graphics.DrawString("Hello, World!", new Font("Verdana", 20, FontStyle.Regular, GraphicsUnit.Pixel), new SolidBrush(Color.Blue), 0, 0);

   4:

   5:     base.OnLoad(e);

   6: }

The result is this IMG tag with a Data URI content, that you can save or copy to the clipboard:

image

Pretty sleek, don’t you think? Winking smile