How to print dynamically created Images in Silverlight 4 Beta

Silverlight 4 supports printing scenarios. It’s quite easy. Just create a PrintDocument instance, handle the PrintPage-Event and call the Print-Method. In the PrintPage-Event set the PageVisual-Property of the PrintPageEventArgs to a UIElement of your choice. If there are more pages, set the HasMorePages-Property of the PrintPageEventArgs to true and the PrintPage-Eventhandler would be called again for the next page.

Below a simple example using a lambda expression. When the Print-Method is called a PrintDialog is displayed to the User, where he can select the printer of his choice. When the PrintDialog was accepted, the PrintPage-Event gets fired and the lambda expression below get’s called. The PageVisual-Property is set to a TextBlock. So that TextBlock with the text “Thoams says…” is printed out.

Ok, so far so good. As I was working on an example for my upcoming Silverlight 4 book I needed to create an Image-Element on the fly and print this out. And then I noticed that the Image doesn’t appear on the output.

While searching for a solution I found somebody having the same problem in this thread in Microsoft’s Silverlight forums:

So, it seemed it was not my cause, it was a Beta-cause. So let’s look at a workaround. But first look at the bug.

I made a smaller example to reproduce it. View the following code. What do you think is printed on the page?

Right, an Image should be printed on the page. But it isn’t. The page is empty. Well, the next thing I tried was to call Measure, Arrange and UpdateLayout on the Image to force a layout-pass. But anyway, it didn’t work, the printed page is always empty.

When the Image isn’t created on the fly, it works. Define the Image in XAML like this

and a Print-Method in the Codebehind-File would work like that:

But we want to print an Image on the fly. So how to do that? One way I found out was to create an ImageBrush and set its ImageSource-Property to the BitmapImage. Use the ImageBrush for a Rectangle’s Fill-Property and print out that Rectangle. So here is some code to dynamically print an image by using an ImageBrush in combination with a Rectangle:

And voilà, the output looks like this when printed to my PDFCreator-Printer:


[Download the Source]

Cheers Thomas

Take Snapshots PART II – Save as animated GIF

I was asked, if it would be possible to save the snapshots created in my last post as an animated gif. With a DispatcherTimer and the GifBitmapEncoder-class you’re not far away from it. Just create a MediaElement in your Window:

In the Codebehind-File, implement Eventhandlers for MediaOpened and MediaEnded-Events. In MediaOpened you start the DispatcherTimer. I’ve just used an interval of 100 milliseconds. In the Tick-Eventhandler, which is called each 100 milliseconds, a BitmapFrame is added to the GifBitmapEncoders Frames-Property. When the video ends, the MediaEnded-Eventhandler writes the GIF to your disk and opens the file. That’s it. :-)

Here’s the gif saved from my video. Just click on it to see it animated:


Take Snapshots of Videos with WPF

With WPF’s Imaging-Classes you can take snapshots of any Visual. The snapshot can be saved in any common Image-Format, like e.g. JPG. Let’s take a look at a pretty short example, that shows how easy this can be done. The example takes snapshots of a Video.

The following Window contains a MediaElement and a Button. The MediaElement plays the Video thomasOnBoard.wmv. The Button defines an Eventhandler for the Click-Event. It takes a snapshot of the video, when you click it.

Let’s look at the Eventhandler of the Button. An instance of the RenderTargetBitmap-class is created with some parameters about image-size, dots per inch (dpi) and Pixelformat. The Render-Method gets the MediaElement as a parameter, so MediaElements visual appearance is stored in the RenderTargetBitmap in memory. With a JpegBitmapEncoder and a FileStream the Image is written as a JPG to disk. That’s it.

Instead of taking the picture in the Button_Click eventhandler, you could create a Timer and take an Image every 0.1s. That allows you to extract an image-sequence of your videos. As it works for any Visual, and everything that’s on the screen in a WPF-Application is a visual, there are many things you can do with it. You could create a snapshot of an Image drawn to an inkCanvas, upload it to a webserver to display it on a webpage etc.