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12.11 Image I/O

Java 1.4 introduced the Image I/O API in the javax.imageio package. This API has many complex features, but at its heart it is a facility for reading and writing image files. Java was previously able to read images, but writing image files was not something it could do. javax.imageio solves that problem, as demonstrated in Example 12-14, a utility program to generate and save PNG images that fade from opaque to transparent: these images make interesting backgrounds for web pages.[1] Default implementations of javax.imageio can read GIF, JPEG, and PNG images, and can write JPEG and PNG images. The patent covering GIF image creation has expired since Java 1.4 was released, and hopefully future releases will support GIF format as well.

[1] They are particularly interesting when the transparent background image is combined with a solid background color: it produces a fade from one solid color to another. Unfortunately, PNG transparency is not supported by Internet Explorer 6 on Windows, so you'll need to use a different browser to appreciate the effect.

Example 12-14. MakeFades.java
package je3.graphics;
import java.io.*;
import java.awt.*;
import java.awt.image.*;

 * This program creates PNG images of the specified color that fade from fully
 * opaque to fully transparent.  Images of this sort are useful in web design
 * where they can be used as background images and combined with background
 * colors to produce two-color fades. (IE6 does not support PNG transparency.)
 * Images are produced in three sizes and with 8 directions.  The images
 * are written into the current directory and are given names of the form:
 * fade-to-color-speed-direction.png
 *   color:      the color name specified on the command line
 *   speed:      slow (1024px), medium (512px), fast(256px)
 *   direction:  a compass point: N, E, S, W, NE, SE, SW, NW
 * Invoke this program with a color name and three floating-point values 
 * specifying the red, green, and blue components of the color. 
public class MakeFades  {
    // A fast fade is a small image, and a slow fade is a large image
    public static final String[  ] sizeNames = { "fast", "medium", "slow" };
    public static final int[  ] sizes = { 256, 512, 1024 };

    // Direction names and coordinates
    public static final String[  ] directionNames = { 
        "N", "E", "S", "W", "NE", "SE", "SW", "NW"
    public static float[  ][  ] directions = {
        new float[  ] { 0f, 1f, 0f, 0f },  // North
        new float[  ] { 0f, 0f, 1f, 0f },  // East
        new float[  ] { 0f, 0f, 0f, 1f },  // South
        new float[  ] { 1f, 0f, 0f, 0f },  // West
        new float[  ] { 0f, 1f, 1f, 0f },  // Northeast
        new float[  ] { 0f, 0f, 1f, 1f },  // Southeast
        new float[  ] { 1f, 0f, 0f, 1f },  // Southwest
        new float[  ] { 1f, 1f, 0f, 0f }   // Northwest

    public static void main(String[  ] args)
        throws IOException, NumberFormatException
        // Parse the command-line arguments
        String colorname = args[0];
        float red = Float.parseFloat(args[1]);
        float green = Float.parseFloat(args[2]);
        float blue = Float.parseFloat(args[3]);

        // Create from and to colors based on those arguments
        Color from = new Color(red, green, blue, 0.0f);  // transparent 
        Color to = new Color(red, green, blue, 1.0f);    // opaque

        // Loop through the sizes and directions, and create an image for each
        for(int s = 0; s < sizes.length; s++) { 
            for(int d = 0; d < directions.length; d++) {
                // This is the size of the image
                int size = sizes[s];

                // Create a GradientPaint for this direction and size
                Paint paint = new GradientPaint(directions[d][0]*size,

                // Start with a blank image that supports transparency
                BufferedImage image =
                    new BufferedImage(size, size, BufferedImage.TYPE_INT_ARGB);

                // Now fill the image with our color gradient
                Graphics2D g = image.createGraphics( );
                g.fillRect(0, 0, size, size);

                // This is the name of the file we'll write the image to
                File file = new File("fade-to-" + 
                                     colorname + "-" +
                                     sizeNames[s] + "-" +
                                     directionNames[d] + ".png");

                // Save the image in PNG format using the javax.imageio API
                javax.imageio.ImageIO.write(image, "png", file);

                // Show the user our progress by printing the filename
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