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.NET TWAIN image scanner

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4.91 (224 votes)
12 May 2002Public Domain
Using TWAIN API to scan images

Sample Screenshot


In Windows imaging applications, the most used API for scanning is TWAIN Unfortunately, the new .NET Framework has no built-in support for TWAIN. So we have to work with the interop methods of .NET to access this API. This article doesn't explain this interop techniques, and good knowledge of the TWAIN 1.9 specifications is assumed! The sample code included doesn't present a finished library, only some essential steps for a minimal TWAIN adaption to .NET applications.


First step was to port the most important parts of TWAIN.H, these are found in TwainDefs.cs. The real logic for calling TWAIN is coded in the class Twain, in file TwainLib.cs.. As the TWAIN API is exposed by the Windows DLL, twain_32.dll, we have to use the .NET DllImport mechanism for interop with legacy code. This DLL has the central DSM_Entry(), ordinal #1 function exported as the entry point to TWAIN. This call has numerous parameters, and the last one is of variable type! It was found to be best if we declare multiple variants of the call like:

[DllImport("twain_32.dll", EntryPoint="#1")]
private static extern TwRC DSMparent(
    [In, Out] TwIdentity origin,
    IntPtr zeroptr,
    TwDG dg, TwDAT dat, TwMSG msg,
    ref IntPtr refptr );

The Twain class has a simple 5-step interface:

class Twain

For some sort of 'callbacks', TWAIN uses special Windows messages, and these must be caught from the application-message-loop. In .NET, the only way found was IMessageFilter.PreFilterMessage(), and this filter has to be activated with a call like Application.AddMessageFilter(). Within the filter method, we have to forward each message to Twain.PassMessage(), and we get a hint (enum TwainCommand) back for how we have to react.

Sample App

The sample is a Windows Forms MDI-style application. It has the two TWAIN-related menu items Select Source... and Acquire... Once an image is scanned in, we can save it to a file in any of the GDI+ supported file formats (BMP, GIF, TIFF, JPEG...)


All code was only tested on Windows 2000SP2, with an Epson Perfection USB scanner and an Olympus digital photo camera. The scanned picture is (by TWAIN spec) a Windows DIB, and the sample code has VERY little checking against error return codes and bitmap formats. Unfortunately, no direct method is available in .NET to convert a DIB to the managed Bitmap class... Some known problems may show up with color palettes and menus.

Note, TWAIN has it's root in 16-Bit Windows! For a more modern API supported on Windows ME/XP, have a look at Windows Image Acquisition (WIA).


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under A Public Domain dedication


About the Author

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Comments and Discussions

AnswerRe: TwainLib Visual Studio 2010 Windows 7 64 bit Pin
UstesGreenridge26-Mar-12 3:55
MemberUstesGreenridge26-Mar-12 3:55 
AnswerRe: TwainLib Visual Studio 2010 Windows 7 64 bit Pin
DanielMarzan14-May-12 8:19
MemberDanielMarzan14-May-12 8:19 
GeneralRe: TwainLib Visual Studio 2010 Windows 7 64 bit Pin
smile869110-Jul-12 12:02
Membersmile869110-Jul-12 12:02 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Manoj Kumar Choubey26-Feb-12 18:23
professionalManoj Kumar Choubey26-Feb-12 18:23 
Questionproblem ..!!!!!!!!!! Pin
A7mad_22-Feb-12 7:43
MemberA7mad_22-Feb-12 7:43 
QuestionEpson V30 scan problem with 16 bit grayscale tiff Pin
smarino6021-Feb-12 7:52
Membersmarino6021-Feb-12 7:52 
QuestionTransferPictures() method returns pics count 1 always Pin
appalanaidu Aug20117-Feb-12 22:29
Memberappalanaidu Aug20117-Feb-12 22:29 
Question+1 Pin
miwalter4-Feb-12 22:06
Membermiwalter4-Feb-12 22:06 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
navidsoft10-Jan-12 22:39
professionalnavidsoft10-Jan-12 22:39 
QuestionThis get freezed the whole application Pin
Member 333762221-Dec-11 2:24
MemberMember 333762221-Dec-11 2:24 
AnswerRe: This get freezed the whole application Pin
A7mad_21-Feb-12 9:26
MemberA7mad_21-Feb-12 9:26 
QuestionScanning area parameter through application Pin
Rajendrarajsri28-Nov-11 15:42
MemberRajendrarajsri28-Nov-11 15:42 
QuestionTWAIN A3 Papersize change i.e. TwCapability capPaperSize = new TwCapability(TwCap.ICAP_SUPPORTEDSIZES, 1) Pin
WaynePorter18-Nov-11 2:55
MemberWaynePorter18-Nov-11 2:55 
Questioncan any one give this whole project in Pin
nsk_saravana15-Nov-11 21:13
Membernsk_saravana15-Nov-11 21:13 
AnswerRe: can any one give this whole project in Pin
wellhi18-Nov-11 16:43
Memberwellhi18-Nov-11 16:43 
QuestionAutocrop Pin
nsk_saravana13-Nov-11 22:21
Membernsk_saravana13-Nov-11 22:21 
QuestionRemoving Scanner UI Pin
nsk_saravana13-Nov-11 17:40
Membernsk_saravana13-Nov-11 17:40 
Questionremoving the UI Pin
mist99911-Nov-11 4:45
Membermist99911-Nov-11 4:45 
QuestionADF Question.....Help Me Pin
beyond111717-Oct-11 16:59
Memberbeyond111717-Oct-11 16:59 
QuestionCapture color image using twain Pin
akul12321-Sep-11 0:43
Memberakul12321-Sep-11 0:43 
QuestionCould not compile Pin
ditoroin21-Sep-11 0:33
Memberditoroin21-Sep-11 0:33 
SuggestionRe: Could not compile Pin
MrPetan21-Sep-11 5:29
MemberMrPetan21-Sep-11 5:29 
GeneralRe: Could not compile Pin
abdulhamyd23-Apr-12 22:59
Memberabdulhamyd23-Apr-12 22:59 
QuestionCAP_DEVICEONLINE always returns false Pin
bennett cummins13-Sep-11 6:26
Memberbennett cummins13-Sep-11 6:26 
Questionconverting this sample in Pin
akul12323-Aug-11 22:33
Memberakul12323-Aug-11 22:33 

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Posted 16 Sep 2001


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