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Pan and Zoom Very Large Images

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4.85 (141 votes)
31 Oct 2009Ms-PL
Smoothly panning and zooming very large images can be a challenge. Here’s a control, with source code, that demonstrates one way of overcoming this challenge, as well as a few "Extra" image processing features.

Note: This was written against .NET 2.0, then manually converted to .NET 1.1.

Sample image

Introduction

I recently wrote an article showing a simple method for panning an image. The code worked very well for small to moderate sized images. However, when using very large images, the performance degraded significantly.

That article used a picture box within a panel, and used the auto scroll functionality of the panel to perform scrolling. I received quite a bit of feedback indicating the need for a version that could handle very large images and still pan very smoothly. I also received requests for ideas on how to zoom the image in and out. So, I got to work.

What I came up with is a control that could smoothly pan super-sized images, and also provided zoom functionality. My tests were with a 49MB GIF (7000 x 7000). The performance was very smooth. Of course, the control works equally as well with small images. The control is demonstrated in the included sample project.

This custom control does not use a picture box, nor does it inherit from one. Neither is there a panel or any "auto-scrolling". This is very different and very much a better way of panning an image (in my opinion). An added benefit to this example is the ability to zoom the image without resizing a picture box (which can get quite large in memory).

How It Works

  1. Only paints the part of the image currently visible.
  2. Double-buffering provides flicker free panning.
  3. GDI+ automatically scales the image for us.

Public Properties

  • Public Property PanButton() As System.Windows.Forms.MouseButtons
  • Public Property ZoomOnMouseWheel() As Boolean
  • Public Property ZoomFactor() As Double
  • Public Property Origin() As System.Drawing.Point

Public Shadows

  • Public Shadows Property Image() As System.Drawing.Image
  • Public Shadows Property initialimage() As System.Drawing.Image

Public Methods

  • Public Sub ShowActualSize()
  • Public Sub ResetImage()

Using the control is as simple as using a standard PictureBox. First, drop the control on a form, then when you need to show an image, you can do it this way:

Dim bmp As New Bitmap("Image.jpg")
Me.ImageViewer1.Image = bmp

Don't forget to change the filename!

It is important to note: If you are working with very large images, you should not pre-load them in the designer. This seriously bloats the project, and can result in "Out of Memory" issues. Instead, load your images during run-time.

Default Behavior

  • Panning the image: Click and hold the left mouse button while the cursor is over the image. Then, simply move your mouse around, with the button still depressed.
  • Zooming: Make sure the control has focus (click the image). Then, use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

Customized Usage

You can tell the control what button to use for panning, with the "PanButton" property. You can turn off the default zooming by setting the ZoomOnMouseWheel property to False.

You can manually set the zoom factor so you could implement your own zoom functionality (i.e., using a slider, or buttons).

You can move the image around programmatically by setting the origin. The origin property gets or sets the coordinates of the top left corner of the viewable window in relation to the original image. For example, if you wanted to see the bottom right corner of an image with a size of 5000 x 5000, and your viewable control size was 500 pixels x 500 pixels, you could set the origin to 4500, 4500. This assumes, of course, that you have a zoom factor of 1 (not zoomed in or out).

You could catch the paint event of the control and overlay your own graphics. Just be careful to take the zoom factor into consideration if you need to draw at precise coordinates in relation to the original image.

Scrollbars

Due to popular demand, scrollbars have now been implemented.

Double Buffering

Double buffering is accomplished by setting the control styles in the constructor as such:

Public Sub New()
     MyBase.New()
     'This call is required by the Windows Form Designer.
     InitializeComponent()
     'Add any initialization after the InitializeComponent() call
     Me.SetStyle(ControlStyles.AllPaintingInWmPaint, True)
     Me.SetStyle(ControlStyles.DoubleBuffer, True)
End Sub

Just In Time Painting?

Well, sort of. While we do have a copy of the image in memory, we only paint the area currently viewable.

Protected Overrides Sub OnPaint(ByVal e As PaintEventArgs)
     e.Graphics.Clear(Me.BackColor)
     DrawImage(e.Graphics)
     MyBase.OnPaint(e)
End Sub

Protected Overrides Sub OnSizeChanged(ByVal e As EventArgs)
     DestRect = New System.Drawing.Rectangle(0, 0, _
                    ClientSize.Width, ClientSize.Height)
     MyBase.OnSizeChanged(e)
End Sub

Private Sub DrawImage(ByRef g As Graphics)
     If m_OriginalImage Is Nothing Then Exit Sub
     SrcRect = New System.Drawing.Rectangle(m_Origin.X, m_Origin.Y, _
                          ClientSize.Width / m_ZoomFactor, _
                          ClientSize.Height / m_ZoomFactor)
     g.DrawImage(m_OriginalImage, DestRect, SrcRect, GraphicsUnit.Pixel)
End Sub

Note that we are taking the current zoom factor into consideration when drawing. By using the DrawImage method of the Graphics object, GDI will scale the image from the source area to fit the destination area.

Panning the Image

The code for panning the image and keeping the zoom factor in mind, is as follows:

Private Sub ImageViewer_MouseMove(ByVal sender As Object, _
        ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.MouseEventArgs) _
        Handles MyBase.MouseMove

     'Make sure we are panning on the correct mouse button
     If e.Button = m_MouseButtons Then
          Dim DeltaX As Integer = m_PanStartPoint.X - e.X
          Dim DeltaY As Integer = m_PanStartPoint.Y - e.Y

          'Set the origin of the new image
          m_Origin.X = m_Origin.X + (DeltaX / m_ZoomFactor)
          m_Origin.Y = m_Origin.Y + (DeltaY / m_ZoomFactor)

          'Make sure we don't go out of bounds
          If m_Origin.X < 0 Then m_Origin.X = 0
          If m_Origin.Y < 0 Then m_Origin.Y = 0

          If m_Origin.X > m_OriginalImage.Width - _
                         (ClientSize.Width / m_ZoomFactor) Then
               m_Origin.X = _m_OriginalImage.Width - _
                            (ClientSize.Width / m_ZoomFactor)
          End If
          If m_Origin.Y > m_OriginalImage.Height - _
                           (ClientSize.Height / m_ZoomFactor) Then
               m_Origin.Y = m_OriginalImage.Height - _
                           (ClientSize.Height / m_ZoomFactor)
          End If

          If m_Origin.X < 0 Then m_Origin.X = 0
          If m_Origin.Y < 0 Then m_Origin.Y = 0

          'reset the startpoints
          m_PanStartPoint.X = e.X
          m_PanStartPoint.Y = e.Y

          'Force a paint
          Me.Invalidate()
     End If
End Sub

Conclusion

Many of the concepts used within this example project are worthy of their own discrete articles. Therefore, I didn't go into any great detail about what double buffering is, nor did I dive into the intricacies of GDI+ in .NET. However, I hope that I have adequately covered the basics of how this control works, as well as how you can use it.

Please Note...

This is by no means meant to be a complete solution, nor is this code "production-ready". Then too, there are usually many ways to solve a problem; this is one. Hopefully, though, this sample has proven beneficial in some way. Perhaps, this article has given you a great idea about how to do this a better way, or an idea for expanding what is presented here. Great! That's why I wrote it. Please feel free to leave some feedback. Let me know how it went for you. If you do have an idea on how to improve this example or this article, please let me know that too.

P.S.: Don't forget to vote! If you don't have an account, make one!

Revisions and Bug Fixes ...

  • 02/04/2007
    • Added scrollbar functionality
    • Fixed null image bug
    • Fixed memory leak
    • Implemented several performance improving suggestions
    • Added ability to invert colors
    • Added ability to stretch image or set to actual pixels
    • Removed the hard coded image file and added dialogue box to test harness
  • 02/06/2007
    • Added a .NET 1.1 version
  • 30/10/2009
    • Deleted the .NET 1.1 zip file

TO DO

  1. Change Points to PointF and Rectangles to RectangleF to allow finer panning and scrolling when zoomed in very tight
  2. Update the article to dissect the app and explain why it works the way it does
  3. Update the code presented in the article

Thanks for your patience!

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)

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About the Author

Anthony Queen
Software Developer (Senior)
United States United States
I started my career in software development back in 2000. Prior to that, I made my living as a detail drafter. My true start in programming, though, goes back much further. I first started learning to program when I was about 10 years old. It was back in ‘82 that I wrote my first application. It was a simple calculator program written on a TRS-80 that my uncle had. Since then, I’ve programmed in Basic, QuickBasic, Pascal, C++, VB 6, VB.NET, Java, HTML, and C #. I have a very diverse background. I’ve worked and written software for several types of companies, including manufacturing, engineering, and finance. I’ve had the opportunity to design and maintain a few enterprise level databases, I’ve written applications to run on windows CE, in a wireless manufacturing environment. I’ve also had opportunities to teach OOP methodologies, and design patterns. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralRe: Additional function? Pin
Anthony Queen14-Dec-06 3:50
memberAnthony Queen14-Dec-06 3:50 
GeneralRe: Additional function? Pin
Tom Dwyer13-Dec-06 17:57
memberTom Dwyer13-Dec-06 17:57 
AnswerRe: Additional function? Pin
Anthony Queen14-Dec-06 3:49
memberAnthony Queen14-Dec-06 3:49 
GeneralRe: Additional function? Pin
Anthony Queen14-Dec-06 3:54
memberAnthony Queen14-Dec-06 3:54 
GeneralJust an idea Pin
pojkoster16-Oct-06 22:03
memberpojkoster16-Oct-06 22:03 
GeneralRe: Just an idea Pin
Anthony Queen17-Oct-06 10:48
memberAnthony Queen17-Oct-06 10:48 
QuestionHow to open Very Large TIF image Pin
Abhay Menon16-Oct-06 4:38
memberAbhay Menon16-Oct-06 4:38 
AnswerRe: How to open Very Large TIF image Pin
Steve Erbach16-Oct-06 6:51
memberSteve Erbach16-Oct-06 6:51 
Abhay,

I, too, work with huge TIFF images and I've struggled with how to work effectively with them. My images are larger even than yours: in the several gigabyte range (e.g., 44,000 x 52,800 pixels at 24 bits/pixel works out to just under 7 GB in RAM. Oy!).

LeadTools is one of the third-party .NET 2.0 libraries I've tried to get a grip on a portion of the image at once. The package does, indeed, allow you to select just a portion of the image without having to read the whole thing into RAM first. I have found that if the image is saved with the CMYK color space that the performance of LeadTools doesn't cut the mustard. I tried extracting four 8192x8192 pixel blocks from that large image using LeadTools on a 2.8 gigahertz, 2 GB RAM system. It took two hours to extract and save those four pieces!

Our network administrator is talking now about setting up a server with great huge gobs of RAM so that he can tell Windows to use RAM instead of disk for the virtual memory. Maybe then when a huge image is being read into RAM, the faster performance of RAM used as virtual memory will allow the whole image to be read into memory: some in RAM and some into virtual memory.

I've looked at "rolling my own" image processor using the Libtiff C library. The TIFF specification is very flexible but also very accessible, I think. Just have to find time to attempt it.

There's a decent TIFF image header information utility available: http://www.awaresystems.be/imaging/tiff/astifftagviewer.html .

I hope this helps.


Steve Erbach
Neenah, WI
http://TheTownCrank.blogspot.com
AnswerRe: How to open Very Large TIF image Pin
Anthony Queen17-Oct-06 11:03
memberAnthony Queen17-Oct-06 11:03 
GeneralScrollbars Pin
alanp516-Oct-06 3:28
memberalanp516-Oct-06 3:28 
GeneralRe: Scrollbars Pin
Anthony Queen17-Oct-06 10:47
memberAnthony Queen17-Oct-06 10:47 
GeneralRe: Scrollbars Pin
Anthony Queen30-Oct-06 3:09
memberAnthony Queen30-Oct-06 3:09 
GeneralRe: Scrollbars Pin
Anthony Queen7-Nov-06 6:40
memberAnthony Queen7-Nov-06 6:40 
QuestionRe: Scrollbars Pin
alanp526-Dec-06 9:14
memberalanp526-Dec-06 9:14 
AnswerRe: Scrollbars Pin
Anthony Queen29-Jan-07 4:49
memberAnthony Queen29-Jan-07 4:49 
GeneralRe: Scrollbars Pin
Anthony Queen6-Feb-07 6:15
memberAnthony Queen6-Feb-07 6:15 
GeneralCentering Zoom Pin
Tom Dwyer6-Oct-06 6:55
memberTom Dwyer6-Oct-06 6:55 
GeneralRe: Centering Zoom Pin
Anthony Queen6-Oct-06 15:51
memberAnthony Queen6-Oct-06 15:51 
GeneralRe: Centering Zoom Pin
tedwyer112-Oct-06 18:00
membertedwyer112-Oct-06 18:00 
GeneralRe: Centering Zoom Pin
Anthony Queen13-Oct-06 3:03
memberAnthony Queen13-Oct-06 3:03 
AnswerRe: Centering Zoom [modified] Pin
Anthony Queen13-Oct-06 5:25
memberAnthony Queen13-Oct-06 5:25 
GeneralRe: Centering Zoom Pin
Tom Dwyer13-Oct-06 7:47
memberTom Dwyer13-Oct-06 7:47 
GeneralRe: Centering Zoom Pin
Anthony Queen13-Oct-06 7:56
memberAnthony Queen13-Oct-06 7:56 
GeneralRe: Centering Zoom Pin
evilgost23-Oct-06 5:36
memberevilgost23-Oct-06 5:36 
GeneralIt's still very slow Pin
Libor Tinka30-Sep-06 7:26
memberLibor Tinka30-Sep-06 7:26 

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Article
Posted 28 Sep 2006

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