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GBIC >> Software Reviews >> Icon Editors
Icon Editors      (July 2007)

Icon Editors have the ability to create icons from scratch, or to load and edit icons from existing files.

Review Results
This review is in work. Until the review is complete, I suggest the following applications for your icon editor needs:

Icon Background
Before we get into the results of my review of icon extractors, here is some basic icon information which will help you understand how the programs were evaluated.

An icon is simply a bitmap, typically of a standard size as defined by Microsoft for use in Windows. An icon file may contain multiple icons (bitmaps), usually (but not necessarily) of the same image. Having several sizes of the same image allows Windows to select the icon size to match the way it's used, as defined in the following list of standard icon sizes:

  • 16x16 - windows and taskbars
  • 24x24 - Start menu
  • 32x32 - desktop
  • 48x48 - explorer
  • 128x128 - WindowsXP special format (seldom used)
  • 256x256 - Windows Vista only (uses .PNG compression to keep file size small)

Only the Vista 256x256 icons are compressed and the compression is optional.

Icon Colors

Icons use color depths of 16, 256, or 16.8M colors. The 16 and 256 color depth icons use color palettes (part of the file) to define the color of each pixel, whereas 16.8M color icons use a 24bpp (bits per pixel) format to define the color of each pixel.

Transparency

Icons of all sizes and colors may include a trsnsparent color. Transparency allows the icon pixel to take on the color of the background.

Starting with WindowsXP, icons may also provide variable opacity (opacity). The variable opacity information is typically referred to as the alpha channel and is implemented by adding 8 bits for every per pixel - for a total of 32bpp. The benefit of variable opacity is to provide shadows and smoother edges to icons.

References
Here are some other icon references that might be of interest to you:

Icon Editor Features
These are the minimum features that I expect from an icon editor Each of the candidate programs will be ranked against how well they implement the following features. As the review continues, the list of features may change.

  1. ... in work

Candidate Programs
These are the programs included in this review.

FreewareCommercial
  1. ... in work
  1. ... in work
User Feedback & Suggestions
I welcome any suggestions on other icon editors that should be considered, or suggestions on how better to review the selected programs.