Got Paint.NET?

I am late with this; Paint.NET 3.0 was released at the end of last month. It deserves more publicity, since it is of high quality. If you have .NET Framework 2.0, Download it here.

The application is fine for general use; I may switch to it from my old favourite Paint Shop Pro, for trimming and touching up screen captures. One feature I like is the way it handles multiple documents. A thumbnail of each open document appears at top right, in a fat toolbar; click a thumbnail to switch to that document.

Paint.NET is particularly interesting for developers. It is written in C#, and started out as a design project; as I understand it, one of the intentions was to discover whether Microsoft’s .NET Framework was up to the task, given that image applications do a lot of intensive number-crunching. Most of the code is C# but not quite all. There is a shell extension written in C++ and some use of PInvoke and COM interop. I get the impression that the chief developer Rick Brewster is now more interested in creating an excellent application than in proving a point about .NET.

One point of interest is the user of multi-threading for optimized performance on multicore processors. Brewster has recently posted his performance tests on various processors from two to eight cores:

The 8-core system is frightfully fast, and it’s very clear that having rendering code optimized for multiple threads is a big win. However, I will be honest and state that the performance scaling is not at the level I was hoping for: we’re already seeing diminishing returns at this point! In general, I am seeing gains of about 3.0x on a quad-core system, and 5.1x on an 8-core system (compared to running with only 1 thread). Unfortunately, I do not have an 8-core Opteron system to compare against which might provide some more meaty information to chew on (does it scale better? worse?).

I take his point, though a 5.1x gain on an 8-core system strikes me as decent. I recommend downloading the source code and taking a look; it is well commented and has workarounds for various System.Windows.Forms annoyances. Before you ask the obvious question, Brewster recently commented in the Paint.NET forum that he has not yet looked at WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation).


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