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Posted 1 Jun 2012

Inject High Speed Compression into Your Existing Java Application

, 1 Jun 2012
Harness the power of PICTools high-performance native libraries & give your Java applications up to 7x faster JPEG compression over Java JPEG support. This white paper and sample code will describe how to inject this performance into existing Java applications, without the need for a complete rewrit

Editorial Note

This article is in the Product Showcase section for our sponsors at CodeProject. These articles are intended to provide you with information on products and services that we consider useful and of value to developers.

Harness the power of PICTools high-performance native libraries and give your Java applications up to 7 times faster JPEG compression over Java JPEG support. This white paper and sample code will describe how to inject this performance into existing Java applications, without the need for a complete rewrite. Some of the largest medical, photo and document imaging companies in the world have relied on the performance and reliability of PICTools libraries for the last 10+ years.  When performance really matters, the PICTools native libraries can be accessed via a JNI interface to provide performance where needed in an existing Java application.

Before You Start

The PICTools toolkits provide 32-bit and 64-bit versions on Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, and Mac OSX.  Android's Java environment and Apple iOS are supported by AIMTools, the mobile version of PICTools.

The PICTools toolkits are packaged in several editions offering a wide range of functionality to suit the needs of the application you are building. Visit to learn more. This tutorial demonstrates functionality that can be found in the PICTools Photo Edition.

To compile this tutorial you will need to download the 32-bit PICTools Photo toolkit and ensure you have a 32-bit version of the Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.6 (Java 6) or higher installed in your development environment. You can download the JDK from Oracle's website at You will also need to have Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 installed.

If you do not wish to compile the program at this time, a compiled demo has been provided for you to run in the demo directory. You can also browse the source code provided in the Source directory.

Writing the Java Application

The Java application we are going to write will read a bitmap file from disk, compress it using JPEG compression, and write it out using the JFIF file format. To provide a comparison, we will use the javax.imageio.ImageIO class to perform the operation and then perform the same operation using PICTools. The PICTools implementation will provide quality and compression settings to produce a JPEG compressed image that is as close as possible to the image produced by the Java library.

In the directory "Source", you will find a batch file named, "CompileAndRun.bat". We are calling a 32-bit native library, so we must make sure to invoke the 32-bit version of the Java compiler and runtime. The batch file has been provided for your convenience to compile and run the program. The source for the Java file shown below is located in the "Source/Java/Accusoft" directory in the file named "".

NOTE: This was compiled with JDK1.6 Update 25. You may need to change the path in the batch file depending on the version of Java you have installed.

The timing is provided as a comparison between the two operations and includes the time to read the source file from disk and write out the new file. Using the ImageIO.write()method did not allow for the compression time to be measured without the disk I/O included, which can skew the timing results. For this reason the total time to read the file from disk, compress the image, and write the file to disk is included in the timing measurements. The PICTools timing includes an extra timing measurement which is only the compression time in milliseconds.

package Accusoft;
public class MyClass 
  public native int PicToolsMakeJPG(String srcBmp, String tgtJpg);
  static long pictime = -1;
  public static void main(String[] args) throws
    long start, stop;
    if (args.length < 1)
      String msg = "Copyright 2012 Accusoft Corporation. All rights reserved.\n" + 
                    "Java PICTools Tutorial.\n" + 
                           "Usage: source.bmp";
    // Load the PicToolsWrapper.dll library. We are excluding this from timing
    // because this incurs a one-time cost the first time it is loaded.
    System.loadLibrary("PicToolsWrapper"); file = new[0]);
    // Compress a bitmap using Java libraries.
    // For demonstration the output file names are hard coded.
    start = System.currentTimeMillis(); // start timing
    java.awt.image.BufferedImage image =; output = new + "-javax_imageio.jpg");
    javax.imageio.ImageIO.write(image, "jpg", output);
    stop = System.currentTimeMillis(); // end timing
    System.out.println(String.format("Total Time Java: %s ms",stop-start));
    Accusoft.MyClass test = new Accusoft.MyClass();
    String outfile = file.getName() + "-pictoolsJNI.jpg";
    // The PICTools Photo toolkit is in evaluation mode which displays a 
    // dialog for 5 seconds the first time we call the opcode. We time the next
    // call to get a true representation of the time.
    int status = test.PicToolsMakeJPG(args[0], outfile);
    if (status == 0)
      // Compress a bitmap using PICTools called through Java JNI.
      start = System.currentTimeMillis(); // start timing
      status = test.PicToolsMakeJPG(args[0], outfile);
      stop = System.currentTimeMillis(); // end timing
      if (status == 0)
          String msg = "Total Time PICTools: %s ms, compress time %s ms";
  private static void ReportError(int statuscode)
       // An error occured.
      String msg = String.format("\nThe error code %d was returned. ", statuscode);
      msg += "Failed to create JPEG compressed file.\n";
      if (statuscode == 4)
        msg += "A 24bpp bitmap image is required as the source image.";
      else if (statuscode == -2101)
        msg += String.format ("The file picn1020.dll was not found in your path.");
      else if (statuscode == 1)
        msg += "Failed to open the file input file.";

Writing the Windows DLL

There is some work involved in creating a native library that can be called from Java, but this is a one-time cost that can then be leveraged by all of your Java applications. This tutorial will explain the steps necessary to create a Windows DLL and correctly expose a native function that can be called from your Java application. You can later build on this to add more advanced features offered by the PICTools toolkits and then expand this to other platforms if desired.

Creating the Visual Studio Project

  1. Using the Visual Studio New Project Wizard, Create a new Visual C++ Win32 project and give it the name "PicToolsWrapper".
  2. When the Wizard starts, navigate to the Application Settings page and select the Application type of "DLL".
  3. Click Finish to exit the wizard.

Adding the Java Native Interface Header Files

After you have created the project, we need to add the header file jni.h to the file dllmain.cpp. Unless you have previously set up Visual Studio for another project using Java, it is likely that Visual Studio will not be able to find the JNI header files. Open your project's settings and add the include path to the Java JDK installed on your machine.

In the file dllmain.cpp add the lines below the include statement for the file stdafx.h and then compile the project. It should compile error free.

// dllmain.cpp : Defines the entry point for the DLL application.
#include "stdafx.h"
// Add the Java JDK include path to Visual Studio
// This is the default 32bit Java 1.6 SDK path on 64bit Windows 7.
// C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jdk1.6.0_25\include
// C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jdk1.6.0_25\include\win32
#include <jni.h>

Adding the JNI Native Method

Next we will define the native method that we will call from our Java application. When the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) invokes our function, it passes a JNIEnv pointer, a jobject pointer, and any arguments declared by the Java method. The JNIEXPORT and JNICALL are defined in the jni.h header file and are aliases for  __declspec(dllexport), exports a function from a Windows DLL, and __stdcall, a Windows API calling convention. The compiler changes method names to include parameter and return types. By using extern "C", we instruct the compiler to not change the function name.

extern "C" JNIEXPORT void JNICALL Java_ClassName_MethodName
   (JNIEnv *env, jobject obj)
     // Native Method 

From the Java JNI formal signature we can now write our native method. Notice that we must use the fully qualified Java class name in the native method name. We have also introduced the Java types jint and jstring, which are defined in the file jni.h and provide a mapping between Java types and native types.

extern "C" JNIEXPORT jint JNICALL Java_Accusoft_MyClass_PicToolsMakeJPG
       (JNIEnv *env, jobject obj, jstring srcfile, jstring tgtfile)

    // Native Method

Converting Java Types to Native Types

In this example we are passing two strings as arguments to our function. The String object in the Java language, which is represented as jstring in Java Native Interface (JNI), is a 16-bit Unicode string.  The conversion function GetStringUTFChars() will allocate memory and retrieve an 8-bit representation of the string. Because we have allocated memory, we must call the function ReleaseStringUTFChars() to inform the Java Virtual Machine that it can free the memory it allocated. The function internal_PicToolsMakeJPG separates the "plumbing" of our Java native method from the work that will be performed by PICTools. Copy this function to your dllmain.cpp file, below the DllMain function.

extern "C" JNIEXPORT jint JNICALL Java_Accusoft_MyClass_PicToolsMakeJPG
       (JNIEnv *env, jobject obj, jstring srcfile, jstring tgtfile)
       // This is the main interface to Java. It separates the plumbing required
       // by Java from the implementation of the PICTools code.
    // get an 8-bit representation of the java string.
       const char *pszSrcBmp = env->GetStringUTFChars(srcfile, 0);
       if (pszSrcBmp == NULL)
              return NULL; // out of memory
       const char *pszTgtJPG = env->GetStringUTFChars(tgtfile, 0);
       if (pszTgtJPG == NULL)
              env->ReleaseStringUTFChars(srcfile, pszSrcBmp); // clean up first string
              return NULL; // out of memory
       // call the pictools implementation.
       long compressTime = -1;
       int output = internal_PicToolsMakeJPG(pszSrcBmp, pszTgtJPG, &compressTime);
       // This captures the time in milliseconds for the actual PICTools compression
       // and does not include the I/O time to read the file and write it to disk.
       // Here we are seting the value of a static variable in the Java class.
       jclass cls = env->GetObjectClass(obj);
       jfieldID fid = env->GetStaticFieldID(cls, "pictime", "J");
       if (fid != NULL)
              jlong time = compressTime;
              env->SetStaticLongField(cls, fid, time);
       // You must do this to prevent a memory leak in Java.
       env->ReleaseStringUTFChars(srcfile, pszSrcBmp);
       env->ReleaseStringUTFChars(tgtfile, pszTgtJPG);
       return output;

Introduction to the PICTools API

If you are not familiar with the PICTools architecture, now is a good time for a brief overview in the context of the code that will perform the JPEG compression. Please refer to the "PICTools and AIMTools Programmers Guide" and the "PICTools Quick Start Guide" for a complete discussion of the architecture.

PICTools uses a plug-in type architecture where DLLs, referred to as opcodes, are loaded dynamically at runtime to perform compression, decompression, and image manipulation. Your application links to the PICTools dispatcher, which is a DLL responsible for loading an opcode at runtime, and is the primary way for you to transfer data between your application and the opcode.

The dispatcher exports two main functions: PegasusQuery and Pegasus. The first function is used to determine the image type. In our case, after we have allocated memory and loaded the bitmap into our buffer, this function will read enough of the data in the buffer to determine the image type. The second function is the primary way your application communicates with the opcode. It does this by passing a pointer to a PIC_PARM structure, defined in the file pic.h, and passing a constant to indicate the requested action, which will be used to perform initialization, execution, and termination.

This is an excerpt of the PIC_PARM structure taken from the file pic.h. The "Op" field is used to tell the dispatcher which opcode (DLL) to load. The "Head" field will be filled out after a call to PegasusQuery and will return information about the bitmap we are going to JPEG compress. The "Get" field is a pointer to memory that our application has allocated and contains the bitmap image. The "Put" field is a pointer to memory that our application has allocated and will contain the JPEG compressed image.

typedef struct PIC_PARM_TAG {
long         Op;
RGBQUAD      ColorTable[272]
QUEUE        Get;
QUEUE        Put;

The following table shows the DLLs used in this tutorial.

Opcode DLL Description
n/apicn20.dll32bit PicTools dispatcher, Applications link with picnm.lib to use this DLL. Exposes the functions PegasusQuery() and Pegasus().
OP_D2Spicn1020.dllDIB to Huffman Sequential JPEG

Working with the PICTools API

In this example, we assume you have extracted the PICTools Photo toolkit in the directory C:\PICTools. Open up your Visual Studio project settings and add a path to C:\PICTools\include for the header files and C:\PICTools\lib for the library path. In the Linker settings you also need to add the library picnm.lib.

In the file dllmain.cpp above the function Dllmain, add the PICTools header files and the function prototype shown below, then add the function body at the end of the dllmain.cpp file. The project should compile with no errors. The WINAPI macro is an alias for the __stdcall convention that we discussed earlier. Please note that in this example error handling has been kept to a minimum to illustrate the concepts. Arbitrary return codes are used to demonstrate potential errors. Ensure that your application provides any necessary error handling that you may require.

#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>
#include "pic.h"
#include "errors.h"
// Function prototype
int WINAPI internal_PicToolsMakeJPG(const char *srcbmp, const char *tgtjpg, long *compresstime);
// Function body
int WINAPI internal_PicToolsMakeJPG(const char *srcbmp, const char *tgtjpg, long *compresstime
       return 0;

Filling out the Function Body

The three main steps you must take when calling an opcode to perform an operation are initialization, execution and termination. Before calling any of the PICTools API functions you must initialize the PIC_PARM structure to zero to ensure we have reasonable default values. After which you can perform opcode specific initialization by modifying the PIC_PARM structure before calling the pegasus function. Please refer to the "PICTools Programmer's Reference" for a complete discussion of what must be initialized before using a specific opcode.

There is a five second evaluation dialog that is displayed the first time you call an opcode unless you have provided registration codes. When you purchase the toolkit and are supplied with registration codes, you would simply add them to your source code and re-compile the project.

// Initialization
char *pszRegistrationName = NULL;
char *pszDispatcherRegistrationName = NULL;
unsigned long RegistrationCode = 0x00000000;
unsigned long DispatcherRegistrationCode = 0x00000000;
// Initialize picparm structure
memset (&p,0,sizeof(PIC_PARM));
p.ParmSize = sizeof(PIC_PARM);
p.ParmVerMinor = 1;
// This tells the dispatcher(picn20.dll) to use opcode OP_D2S (picn1020.dll) 
// to perform sequential JPEG compression. 
p.Op = OP_D2S;       
// A dialog box is displayed for 5 seconds the first time you call the 
// PICTools opcode if you do not supply registration codes. 
p.ReservedPtr6 = (BYTE*)pszRegistrationName;
p.ReservedPtr7 = (BYTE*)(PICINTPTRT)RegistrationCode;
if ( DispatcherRegistrationCode != 0 )
    p.Flags |= F_ReservedPtr5;
    p.ReservedPtr4 = (BYTE*)pszDispatcherRegistrationName;
    p.ReservedPtr5 = (BYTE*)(PICINTPTRT)DispatcherRegistrationCode;

The Get queue is a structure that contains a Start and End pointer, which are used to determine the size of the buffer. It also contains a Front and Rear pointer, which are used to orient how you want to read data from the queue. If you imagine the queue as a horizontal line, then the question becomes are we reading left to right or right to left. The opcode will read the image data from the Get queue. In this step we allocate memory and read the entire file into the buffer. More advanced techniques allow you to process the image in chunks and have the opcode report progress back to the application.

// Read source file into a buffer.
FILE *fp;
if (fopen_s(&fp, srcbmp, "rb") != 0)
       return 1; // failed to open the file.
fseek(fp,0L, SEEK_END);
long size = ftell(fp);
fseek(fp, 0, SEEK_SET);
// Allocate memory and setup the Get queue pointers.
p.Get.Start = (unsigned char *)malloc(size);
if (p.Get.Start == NULL)
       return -1; // out of memory
p.Get.End = p.Get.Start + size;
p.Get.Front = p.Get.Start;
p.Get.Rear = p.Get.End;
// this flag tells the opcode the entire image is in the buffer
p.Get.QFlags = Q_EOF; 
int bytesRead = fread(p.Get.Start,1,size,fp);
if (bytesRead != size)
       free(p.Get.Start); // free allocated memory.
       return 2; // failed to read the whole file.

After we have read the file into our Get queue we can call the function PegasusQuery() to determine the file type. This will fill out the BITMAPHEADER structure with information about the bitmap.

// Ensure the file is a 24bpp bitmap. The flags tell PegasusQuery that
// we require specific information about the image in the Get Queue. See
// the "PICTools Programmer's Reference" for a complete discussion of these
// flags.
if (!PegasusQuery(&p))
       // Failed to retrieve the required information about the image.
       free (p.Get.Start);
       return 3; // Failed to determine image type.
memset(&p.u.QRY, 0, sizeof(p.u.QRY));
// This example only demonstrates 24bpp RGB bitmap files.
if (p.Head.biCompression != BI_RGB || p.Head.biClrImportant != 0 
       || p.Head.biBitCount != 24)
       free (p.Get.Start);
       return 4; // Not a 24bpp bitmap image.
// The pixel data for Device-Independent Bitmaps (DIB) are stored in reverse 
// order where the top line on the screen is the last line in the DIB buffer.
// The Start and End pointers tell us the size of our buffer and the Front and
// Rear pointers are used by the queue. We need to orient the queue to read
// from the end of the buffer toward the start. After adjusting the Front
// and Rear pointers set the flag, Q_REVERSE, to tell the opcode which end 
// of the queue to start reading from. We also have to adjust the Rear 
// pointer so that it does not include the BITMAPFILEHEADER and 
// The opcode will read the image data from the Get queue.
p.Get.Rear = p.Get.Front + sizeof(BITMAPFILEHEADER) + sizeof(BITMAPINFOHEADER);
p.Get.Front = p.Get.End;
p.Get.QFlags |= Q_REVERSE;
// The LumFactor and ChromFactor are in the range of 0-255. When they are both
// zero, the quality is highest and the compression ratio lowest. When they are
// both at 255, the quality is lowest and the compression ratio is highest. The 
// value of 32 says to use the default luminance and chrominance quantization 
// table values.
// The SubSampling is set so Cb and Cr are sub-sampled 2 to 1 vertically and 
// horizontally. The PF_OptimizeHuff flag is used to tell the opcode to create
// optimized Huffman codes during compression instead of using the default 
// Huffman codes.
p.u.D2S.LumFactor = 32;
p.u.D2S.ChromFactor = 32;
p.u.D2S.SubSampling = SS_411;
p.u.D2S.PicFlags |= PF_OptimizeHuff;

Before starting the PICTools operation, we allocate memory for the Put queue, which is where the opcode will write the compressed JPEG image.

// The opcode will write the image data to the Put queue, so we must allocate
// memory for it. In this case, we know that the output file (JPG) will be 
// smaller than our input size, so we will just allocate the same size output
// buffer as we did for the input. 
p.Put.Start = (unsigned char*)malloc(size);
if (p.Put.Start == NULL)
       return -1; // out of memory
// JPEG image data is stored top-down, so we do not have to reverse the 
// queue Front and Rear pointers.
p.Put.End = p.Put.Start + size;
p.Put.Front = p.Put.Start;
p.Put.Rear = p.Put.Start;
long start_time = clock();
// Loads and initializes the opcode.
res = Pegasus(&p, REQ_INIT);
while (res != RES_DONE)
       if (res == RES_ERR)
              // This may be a common error during initial development. If you
              // get this, ensure that the opcode is in your search path.
              if (p.Status == ERR_OPCODE_DLL_NOT_FOUND) // (-2101)
                     // opcode dll not found.
                     // Dispatcher returned the error (-2101) which is defined in 
                     // the PICTools header file errors.h.
                     return p.Status; 
    res = Pegasus(&p, REQ_CONT);
// Execution and Termination
// Ensure we did not have an initialization error.
if (res != RES_ERR)
       // Execute the opcode. The result when this function returns is a
       // JPEG compressed image in the Put queue.
       res = Pegasus(&p, REQ_EXEC);
       // Call this to allow the opcode to free internally allocated memory.
       Pegasus(&p, REQ_TERM);
       if (res != RES_DONE)
              // The opcode has returned an error. These are defined in the 
              // PICTools header file error.h. 
              return p.Status;  
long end_time = clock();
*compresstime = ((end_time - start_time)*1000)/CLOCKS_PER_SEC;

Finally we write out the file to disk and free the memory that we allocated.

// Write the image data from the Put queue out to a file.
if (fopen_s(&fp, tgtjpg, "w+b") != 0)
       return 6; // failed to open file for write.
// Subtract the Front pointer from the Rear pointer to find out how
// much data was written and then write it to a file.
size_t len = p.Put.Rear-p.Put.Front;
if (fwrite(p.Put.Front,1,len,fp) < len)
       return 7; // Failed to write whole file.
p.Get.Start = NULL;
p.Put.Start = NULL;
return 0;

Running the Program

Demo Program

A compiled demo program has been provided in the directory "Demo". Because we are loading a 32-bit native library, we must invoke the 32-bit JVM. A batch file named "RunDemo.bat" has been provided which ensures that we run the correct version. The batch file also sets the PATH environment variable to the current directory to ensure the PicToolsWrapper.dll, picn20.dll, and picn1020.dll files can be found and loaded at runtime. When the batch file exits the PATH variable is restored to the original value.

When you run the batch file it will read in the source .bmp image and produce the files java-pictoolsJNI.jpg and javax-imageio.jpg. It will also display the time it took to read the file from disk, perform the compression, and write the new file to disk. The PICTools example code sets quality and compression ratio settings to produce an image that is as close as possible to the settings used by the Java implementation.

Compiled Program

In the directory "Source\Java" you will find a batch file named "CompileAndRun.bat". This will compile the Java program and then run the program. If you have followed along with the tutorial and created your own PicToolsWrapper project, you will need to copy your compiled DLL, PICToolsWrapper.dll, from your output directory to the directory "Source\Java\Accusoft".

The batch file also adds "current directory\Accusoft" to the PATH environment variable to ensure the PicToolsWrapper.dll, picn20.dll, and picn1020.dll files can be found and loaded at runtime. When the batch file exits the PATH variable is restored to the original value.

DLL Description
PicToolsWrapper.dll The Windows DLL created during this tutorial.
picn20.dll 32bit PicTools dispatcher, Applications link with picnm.lib to use this DLL. Exposes the functions PegasusQuery () and Pegasus().
picn1020.dll DIB to Huffman Sequential JPEG


When performance matters, PICTools can be plugged into your existing application using the Java Native Interface (JNI) to gain up to 7 times faster compression of JPEG images.  Other PICTools libraries are available to provide high-speed imaging support such as image cleanup, image enhancement and compression and decompression for a wide variety of image formats.  The PICTools architecture allows you to include only the libraries needed for your desired imaging support, keep your binary as small as possible, and develop on the most popular platforms available today. For more information and to download the fully featured trial version visit:

About the Authors

Andy Dunlap is a Senior Software Engineer with Accusoft. Prior to joining Accusoft in 2011, Andy was an AV-8B Harrier Avionics Technician and Instructor in The Marine Corps for 10 years before transitioning from hardware to software. His software career began at a flight simulator company in Tampa, Florida where he used his aircraft knowledge to design real-time flight simulator software in Fortran, C, and C++ on Unix and Windows platforms. Desiring a change, he then began work in commercial software where he developed database applications

using Microsoft SQL Server, Win32, .NET and COM+ technologies. Currently, he is working

as part of Accusoft's Native Core Imaging Team on imaging technology. Andy earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Park University.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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