Introduction to GIFLIB
GIFLIB is a package of portable tools and library routines for working
with GIF images. You can find the latest version at the GIFLIB home
The Graphics Interchange Format(c) specification is the copyrighted
property of CompuServe Incorporated. GIF(sm) is a service mark
property of CompuServe Incorporated. As this package existed before
UniSys's lawyeritis attack of New Years' Day 1995, it is grandfathered
in under their license terms and you do not have to pay fees
for using it.
This package has been released under an X Consortium-life freeware
license. Use and copy as you see fit. If you make useful changes,
add new tools, or find and fix bugs, please send your mods to the
maintainers for general distribution.
The util directory includes programs to clip, rotate, scale, and
position GIF images. It includes an X11 viewer, code to dump GIFs to
an Epson-compatible printer in graphics mode, and many conversion
utilities. These are no replacement for an interactive graphics
editor, but they can be very useful for scripted image generation or
The library includes program-callable entry points for reading and writing
GIF files, an 8x8 utility font for embedding text in GIFs, and an error
handler. GIF manipulation can be done at a relatively low level by
sequential I/O (which automatically does/undoes image compression) or at
a higher level by slurping an entire GIF into allocated core.
This library speaks both GIF87a and GIF89. The differences between
GIF87 and GIF89 are minor: in the latter, the interpretation of some
extension block types is defined. The library never needs to actually
interpret these, but giftext notices them.
Here is a summary of the utilities in this package. If you're looking
at this page through a web browser, each utility name should be a
hotlink to HTML documentation.
- display GIFs on IBM PC displays using the BGI (Borland) driver
- dump images saved as GIF files on Epson type printers
- display GIFs on IBM PC displays using the Hercules graphic card
- display GIFs under SGI NeWs window system
- print GIF file on laser printers supporting PostScript
- convert images saved as GIF to 24-bit RGB image(s)
- convert images saved as GIF to RLE (Utah raster toolkit) format
- display images saved as GIF files under X window system
- convert raw 8-bit image data into GIF files
- convert 24 bit images to a GIF image using color quantization
- convert images saved as RLE (Utah raster toolkit) to GIF format
Test Pattern Generators
- generate a single-color test pattern GIF
- generate color test patterns
- create a test GIF image resembling a color monitor test pattern
Image Manipulation Components
- assemble multiple GIFs into one, or burst a multiple-mage GIF
- clip or crop a GIF image
- modify GIF image colormaps
- combine 2 GIF images of exactly the same size into one
- clumsily attempts to fix truncated GIF images
- flip GIF image along X or Y axis or rotate by 90 degrees
- convert between interlaced and non interlaced images
- generate one composite GIF from a multiple-image GIF
- change a GIF's screen size or recondition it.
- rotate a GIF through any desired angle
- resize a GIF by deletion or duplication of bits
- burst a GIF image into subrectangles.
- print (text only) general information about a GIF
- generate color-frequency histogram from a GIF
GIF Composition Tools
- converter/deconverter to/from an editable text format
- generate GIF images out of regular text in 8x8 font
- end-of-pipe fitting for GIF-processing pipelines
- use giflib tools to compose images
C Code Templates
Under MS-DOS, most filters will print the current input scan line number
(counting up) whenever they read image input, and will print output image line
number (counting down) when they dump output. Utilities that only read or
write always print in increasing order. Utilities (like GifPos that only
change positions) that copy the image as a block of compressed data will print
nothing --- they cannot identify a scan line number, and are enough faster that
the feedback to the user doesn't seem necessary.
- template code for filtering a GIF sequentially
- template code for filtering a GIF with in-core operations
Some of the utilities require memory on the order of the whole screen, while
others read one scan line at a time. Each utility HTML file has entry called
Memory Usage which will be one of:
In all cases a byte is allocated per pixel, so an image of 320 by 200 pixels
will requires approximately 64k bytes of main memory.
- memory required is on the order of one scan line
- proportional to the size of the biggest image in GIF file
- proportional to GIF screen size
The library contains two groups of C functions. One group does sequential
I/O on the stream-oriented GIF format. The other supports grabbing an
entire GIF into allocated core, operating on it in core, and then writing
the modified in-core GIF out to disk.
Unless you are on a 286 or some other very memory-limited machine
running under DOS, you probably want to use the second group.
Detailed documentation on the library entry points is in gif_lib.html. Library error codes are
described in liberror.html
The GIF Standard
The doc subdurector includes flat-ASCII descriptions of GIF89 format and Lempel-Ziv
This package was originally written by Gershon Elber
in 1990 on an IBM PC under MS-DOS using Borland Turbo C. He made it portable
to several UNIX environments.
The 2.1 version featured substantial changes and additions by Eric
S. Raymond . These included the
DGifSlurp/EGifSpew function pair for enabling non-sequential
operations on GIF images and the tools icon2gif, gifovly, gifburst, and
The 2.4 version converted all the docs from an idiosyncratic
plain-text formal to to HTML.
GIFLIB's current maintainer is Eric S. Raymond. You can find his home
page at http://www.ccil.org/esr.
GIFLIB is not under active development, but bug fixes are being accepted.
Eric S. Raymond <email@example.com>