You have seen how easy it is to display an image on screen and have
probably guessed that there's more going on behind the
getImage() and drawImage()
methods trigger a series of events that result in the
image being available for display on the
ImageObserver. The image is fetched asynchronously in another
thread. The entire process
goes as follows:
This summary covers Sun's implementation ( JDK). Implementations
that don't derive from the JDK may behave completely differently.
The call to getImage() triggers
Toolkit to call createImage()
for the image's InputStreamImageSource (which
is a URLImageSource in this case; it would be a
FileImageSource if we were loading the image from a
The Toolkit registers the
image as being "desired." Desired just means that something
will eventually want the image loaded. The system then waits until an ImageObserver
registers its interest in the image.
The drawImage() method (use
of MediaTracker or prepareImage())
registers an ImageObserver
Registering an ImageObserver
kicks the image's ImageRepresentation
into action; this is the start of the loading process, although image data
isn't actually transferred until step 9. ImageRepresentation
implements the ImageConsumer
The start of production registers the image source (ImageProducerURLImageSource) with the ImageFetcher
and also registers the ImageRepresentation
as an ImageConsumer for the
The ImageFetcher creates
a thread to get the image from its source.
The ImageFetcher reads data
and passes it along to the InputStreamImageSource,
which is a URLImageSource.
The URLImageSource determines
that JPEGImageDecoder is the
proper ImageDecoder for converting
the input stream into an Image.
(Other ImageDecoders are used
for other image types, like GIF.)
The ImageProducer starts
reading the image data from the source; it calls the ImageConsumer
(i.e., the ImageRepresentation)
as it processes the image. The most important method in the ImageConsumer
interface is setPixels(), which
delivers pixel data to the consumer for rendering onscreen.
As the ImageConsumer (i.e.,
the ImageRepresentation) gets
additional information, it notifies the ImageObserver
via imageUpdate() calls.
When the image is fully acquired across the network, the thread started
by the ImageFetcher stops.
As you see, there are a lot of unfamiliar moving pieces. Many of them are
from the java.awt.image package and are discussed in Chapter 12, Image Processing. Others are from the
sun.awt.image package; they
are hidden in that you don't need to know anything about them to
do image processing in Java. However, if you're curious, we'll
briefly summarize these classes in the next section.