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VIPS from C

Using VIPS — How to use the VIPS library from C


VIPS comes with a convenient, high-level C API. You should read the API docs for full details, but this section will try to give a brief overview.

Library startup

When your program starts, use VIPS_INIT() to start up the VIPS library. You should pass it the name of your program, usually argv[0]. Use vips_shutdown() when you exit. VIPS_INIT() is a macro to let it check that the libvips library you have linked to matches the libvips headers you included.

You can add the VIPS flags to your GObject command-line processing with vips_add_option_entries().

The VipsImage class

The basic data object is the VipsImage. You can create an image from a file on disc or from an area of memory, either as a C-style array, or as a formatted object, like JPEG. See vips_image_new_from_file() and friends. Loading an image is fast: VIPS read just enough of the image to be able to get the various properties, such as width, but no decoding occurs until pixel values are really needed.

Once you have an image, you can get properties from it in the usual way. You can use projection functions, like vips_image_get_width() or g_object_get(), to get GObject properties. All VIPS objects are immutable, meaning you can only get properties, you can't set them. See VIPS Header to read about image properties.

Reference counting

VIPS is based on the GObject library and is therefore reference counted. vips_image_new_from_file() returns an object with a count of 1. When you are done with an image, use g_object_unref() to dispose of it. If you pass an image to an operation and that operation needs to keep a copy of the image, it will ref it. So you can unref an image as soon as you no longer need it, you don't need to hang on to it in case anyone else is still using it.

See VipsOperation for more detail on VIPS reference counting conventions.

VIPS operations

Use things like vips_embed() to manipulate your images. You use it from C like this:

const char *filename;
VipsImage *in = vips_image_new_from_file (filename, NULL); 
const int x = 10;
const int y = 10;
const int width = 1000;
const int height = 1000;
VipsImage *out;

if (vips_embed (in, &out, x, y, width, height, NULL))

Now out will hold a reference to a 1000 by 1000 pixel image, with in pasted 10 right and 10 down from the top left-hand corner. The remainder of the image will be black. If in is too large, it will be clipped at the image edges.

Operations can take optional arguments. You give these as a set of NULL-terminated name-value pairs at the end of the call. For example, you can write:

if (vips_embed (in, &out, x, y, width, height, 
  "extend", VIPS_EXTEND_COPY,

And now the new edge pixels, which were black, will be filled with a copy of the edge pixels of in. Operation options are listed at the top of each operation's entry in the docs. Alternatively, the vips program is handy for getting a summary of an operation's parameters. For example:

$ vips embed
embed an image in a larger image
   embed in out x y width height
   in           - Input image, input VipsImage
   out          - Output image, output VipsImage
   x            - Left edge of input in output, input gint
			                default: 0
			                min: -1000000000, max: 1000000000
   y            - Top edge of input in output, input gint
			                default: 0
			                min: -1000000000, max: 1000000000
   width        - Image width in pixels, input gint
			                default: 1
			                min: 1, max: 1000000000
   height       - Image height in pixels, input gint
			                default: 1
			                min: 1, max: 1000000000
optional arguments:
   extend       - How to generate the extra pixels, input VipsExtend
			                default: black
			                allowed: black, copy, repeat, mirror, white, background
   background   - Colour for background pixels, input VipsArrayDouble
operation flags: sequential-unbuffered 

See VipsOperation for more information on running operations on images.

The API docs have a handy table of all vips operations, if you want to find out how to do something, try searching that.

When you are done, you can write the final image to a disc file, to a formatted memory buffer, or to C-style memory array. See vips_image_write_to_file() and friends.

Getting pixels

Use VipsRegion to read pixels out of images. You can use VIPS_IMAGE_ADDR() as well, but this can need a large amount of memory to work. See extending for an introduction to writing your own operations.

Error handling

VIPS keeps a log of error message, see VIPS Error to find out how to get and clear the error log.


Example 1. VIPS from C example

/* compile with:
 *      gcc -g -Wall try211.c `pkg-config vips --cflags --libs`

#include <stdio.h>
#include <vips/vips.h>

main( int argc, char **argv )
  VipsImage *in;
  double mean;
  VipsImage *out;

  if( VIPS_INIT( argv[0] ) )
    vips_error_exit( NULL ); 

  if( argc != 3 )
    vips_error_exit( "usage: %s infile outfile", argv[0] ); 
  if( !(in = vips_image_new_from_file( argv[1], NULL )) )
    vips_error_exit( NULL );

  printf( "image width = %d\n", vips_image_get_width( in ) ); 

  if( vips_avg( in, &mean, NULL ) )
    vips_error_exit( NULL );

  printf( "mean pixel value = %g\n", mean ); 

  if( vips_invert( in, &out, NULL ) )
    vips_error_exit( NULL );

  g_object_unref( in ); 

  if( vips_image_write_to_file( out, argv[2], NULL ) )
    vips_error_exit( NULL );

  g_object_unref( out ); 

  return( 0 );

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