It’s The Little Things: PNG Transparency In Win7 Explorer

Sometimes it’s attention to detail that excites me the most. I just noticed the beautiful rendering of PNGs with transparency in the Pictures Library view in Explorer in Windows 7 (RC build):

PNG Transparency in Pictures Library View

You can get this view by selecting Arrange by Month in the upper right-hand corner of the Pictures library view. The RC build has been pretty stable for me and I use it for “production” purposes on my work laptop. I have both Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 installed on it and this works fine.

These images you see above do not reside on my Win7 laptop, but on my Windows Home Server (WHS) box. I’ve included the \serverphotos share in my Win7 Pictures Library. This pulls some 20,000 pictures into my library without any ill effect. I run Windows Search 4.0 on my WHS, so searching the library is still very snappy. This is possible because the search box in Explorer uses Remote Index Discovery and my laptop doesn’t have to index those pictures by itself.

You can code against the new Library feature in Win7 using C++ as explained on the Windows 7 Blog for Developers. If you are slightly less masochistic and want to use C# or VB, I suggest you use the Windows API Code Pack for Microsoft .NET Framework. It’s essentially a bunch of wrapper classes around new unmanaged code APIs in Windows that are not yet covered by the .NET Framework itself.

PS: If you are still on Windows Vista, SP2 has just been released on MSDN Subscriber Downloads.

PS2: I lied a bit. Those images you see on the left are actually beautiful 2048x2048 pixel TIFF files with transparency. You can download those so-called Blue Marble pictures.

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