You often need to convert a graphics file from one format to another--for printing, manipulation by a particular desktop publishing program, or some other reason. Although conversion to and from certain file formats is straightforward, conversion of other formats may be quite hair-raising. You will find conversion particularly problematic if you need to convert between basic format types--for example, bitmap to vector.
Fortunately, some excellent products can handle most of the complexities of conversion for you. If you are lucky enough to be converting between the formats supported by the pbmplus (Portable Bitmap Utilities) package (a freely available set of programs developed by Jef Poskanzer that we've included on the CD-ROM), your job will be an easy one. Rather than converting explicitly from one graphics file format to another (for example, from PCX to Microsoft Windows Bitmap [BMP]), pbmplus converts any source format to a common format and then converts that common format to the desired destination format. pbmplus is most often used in UNIX emvironments, but the source code has also been compiled for other platforms. We also provide a number of other freely available conversion programs for Windows, MS-DOS, OS/2, Macintosh, and UNIX platforms on the CD-ROM.
Try these programs out and see which best suits your formats and applications. If you have a machine that is running MS-DOS or a variant of Microsoft Windows, consider buying HiJaak, an excellent commercial product developed by Inset Systems (now Quarterdeck) that converts to and from most of the common file formats. If you have a Macintosh or Power Mac, consider buying DeBabelizer.
Chapter 7, Format Conversion, contains a discussion of converting between types of graphics file formats.