Next Previous Contents


1.1 Functions provided by the library

The IJG JPEG library provides C code to read and write JPEG-compressed image files. The surrounding application program receives or supplies image data a scanline at a time, using a straightforward uncompressed image format. All details of color conversion and other preprocessing/postprocessing can be handled by the library.

The library includes a substantial amount of code that is not covered by the JPEG standard but is necessary for typical applications of JPEG. These functions preprocess the image before JPEG compression or postprocess it after decompression. They include colorspace conversion, downsampling/upsampling, and color quantization. The application indirectly selects use of this code by specifying the format in which it wishes to supply or receive image data. For example, if colormapped output is requested, then the decompression library automatically invokes color quantization.

A wide range of quality vs. speed tradeoffs are possible in JPEG processing, and even more so in decompression postprocessing. The decompression library provides multiple implementations that cover most of the useful tradeoffs, ranging from very-high-quality down to fast-preview operation. On the compression side we have generally not provided low-quality choices, since compression is normally less time-critical. It should be understood that the low-quality modes may not meet the JPEG standard's accuracy requirements; nonetheless, they are useful for viewers.

A word about functions *not* provided by the library. We handle a subset of the ISO JPEG standard; most baseline, extended-sequential, and progressive JPEG processes are supported. (Our subset includes all features now in common use.) Unsupported ISO options include: * Hierarchical storage * Lossless JPEG * Arithmetic entropy coding (unsupported for legal reasons) * DNL marker * Nonintegral subsampling ratios We support both 8- and 12-bit data precision, but this is a compile-time choice rather than a run-time choice; hence it is difficult to use both precisions in a single application.

By itself, the library handles only interchange JPEG datastreams --- in particular the widely used JFIF file format. The library can be used by surrounding code to process interchange or abbreviated JPEG datastreams that are embedded in more complex file formats. (For example, this library is used by the free LIBTIFF library to support JPEG compression in TIFF.)

1.2 Outline of typical usage

The rough outline of a JPEG compression operation is:

        Allocate and initialize a JPEG compression object
        Specify the destination for the compressed data (eg, a file)
        Set parameters for compression, including image size & colorspace
        while (scan lines remain to be written)
        Release the JPEG compression object

A JPEG compression object holds parameters and working state for the JPEG library. We make creation/destruction of the object separate from starting or finishing compression of an image; the same object can be re-used for a series of image compression operations. This makes it easy to re-use the same parameter settings for a sequence of images. Re-use of a JPEG object also has important implications for processing abbreviated JPEG datastreams, as discussed later.

The image data to be compressed is supplied to jpeg_write_scanlines() from in-memory buffers. If the application is doing file-to-file compression, reading image data from the source file is the application's responsibility. The library emits compressed data by calling a "data destination manager", which typically will write the data into a file; but the application can provide its own destination manager to do something else.

Similarly, the rough outline of a JPEG decompression operation is:

        Allocate and initialize a JPEG decompression object
        Specify the source of the compressed data (eg, a file)
        Call jpeg_read_header() to obtain image info
        Set parameters for decompression
        while (scan lines remain to be read)
        Release the JPEG decompression object

This is comparable to the compression outline except that reading the datastream header is a separate step. This is helpful because information about the image's size, colorspace, etc is available when the application selects decompression parameters. For example, the application can choose an output scaling ratio that will fit the image into the available screen size.

The decompression library obtains compressed data by calling a data source manager, which typically will read the data from a file; but other behaviors can be obtained with a custom source manager. Decompressed data is delivered into in-memory buffers passed to jpeg_read_scanlines().

It is possible to abort an incomplete compression or decompression operation by calling jpeg_abort(); or, if you do not need to retain the JPEG object, simply release it by calling jpeg_destroy().

JPEG compression and decompression objects are two separate struct types. However, they share some common fields, and certain routines such as jpeg_destroy() can work on either type of object.

The JPEG library has no static variables: all state is in the compression or decompression object. Therefore it is possible to process multiple compression and decompression operations concurrently, using multiple JPEG objects.

Both compression and decompression can be done in an incremental memory-to- memory fashion, if suitable source/destination managers are used. See the section on "I/O suspension" for more details.

Next Previous Contents