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Converting fractal images to JPEG

Cardbox for Windows 2.0 offered three compression modes for images: "Cardbox" (represented by Document in Cardbox 3), "JPEG" (represented by Picture in Cardbox 3), and "Fractal". Fractal image compression was very much in the news when Cardbox for Windows was first released but interest in it has died out and the company promoting it has gone out of business. Accordingly Cardbox 3 does not provide fractal compression, but it does display fractally compressed images correctly when it comes across them in older databases. (This is the reason for the existence of the mysterious file EFSERV.EXE in your Cardbox program folder).

Why convert?

Images created using fractal compression can be displayed without trouble by Cardbox on all the current (32-bit) versions of Windows, but on 64-bit editions of Windows fractally compressed images cannot be displayed because the fractal helper program EFSERV.EXE is 16-bit and Microsoft have removed 16-bit program support from 64-bit Windows. If you have an image database created by Cardbox 1.0 or 2.0 that contains fractally compressed images, you need to convert those images to another format such as JPEG.

The conversion macro

We have written a Cardbox macro that scans through a database, identifies all fractally compressed images, and converts them to the JPEG format. This is an industry standard, its specification is public, and the programming for decoding it is built into Cardbox itself and will therefore never become obsolete.

You can download the macro here. Its filename is UpgradeFractals.cbs.

After downloading

Once you have downloaded the macro, you have two choices.

  1. You can save UpgradeFractals.cbs and copy it to your main Cardbox macro folder. If you don't remember where this is, you can find out the name of the folder by doing Tools > Options » Macros and looking at the box at the bottom marked "General macros".
  2. You can open UpgradeFractals.cbs, highlight all the text it contains, and paste it into a newly created Cardbox macro.

To use the macro

Open the database whose images you want to convert, then play the UpgradeFractals macro. The macro will scan every image in every record in your database and convert any fractal images it finds into JPEG. It displays a progress report in the status bar and when it has finished, it displays a message summarising what it has done.

If you interrupt the macro, it will start its scan from the beginning the next time you run it, but of course it won't have to re-convert any images that it has already converted.

The macro is quite slow, processing about 400 records per minute; but it only ever has to be run once.

If you're not sure whether an image database contains fractally compressed images, run the macro anyway: if there are no images to convert, it will convert nothing and do no harm.

A reminder

This conversion is only needed

  1. IF you used Cardbox 1.0/2.0 to store images using Fractal compression
  2. AND you are now planning to use the database on a 64-bit version of Windows.
© 2016 Martin Kochanski
"Cardbox" is a registered trademark.
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