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Recommended Host for ImageMagick
ImageMagick is a suite of (mostly) command line tools for manipulating image files. But it's greatest power in terms of web hosting is that most development programming environments -- specifically PHP and .NET -- can use ImageMagick's API to edit images in real time. But you must be careful, because many hosting companies do not install these extensions. For ImageMagick hosting, check out SiteGround.
ImageMagick is provided by many web hosts, and you'll find it included on shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS) and dedicated servers alike. It's normally used to manipulate images on the fly. ImageMagick is normally executed using a command line interface, either manually or using a scripting language like PHP.
A Brief History of ImageMagick
In 1987, John Cristy was tasked with finding an algorithm to reduce the number of colours in an image file. At the time, this was not a common task, and Cristy scoured newsgroups to find the script he needed. As part of his role at DuPont, he was tasked with a number of similar queries over the next decade, and wound up sourcing and adapting fragments of code.
In 1990, he decided to release the tools he'd found, adapted and developed. These were compiled and released as a free package called ImageMagick, with DuPont's blessing. Despite most of the work being done on DuPont's time, DuPont essentially gave away ImageMagick by giving Cristy the copyright. He suspected that the business did not see any value in it as a commercial product.
Cristy continued to develop ImageMagick as it gained a solid reputation. The various tools were bundled and incorporated into the Linux operating system, and they were also adopted by thousands of programmers as their imaging editing toolbox of choice. ImageMagick is now an established and, some might say, essential part of most dynamic websites.
How ImageMagick Works
ImageMagick is essentially an imaging editing program; a collection of tools for processing and manipulating graphics files. It has three main functions:
It displays raster and vector images in more than 200 formats
It converts images from one format to another (including common formats like GIF, JPG, TIFF and PNG)
It edits images
ImageMagick is known for being installed on Linux web servers, but it's written in C and is fully cross platform compatible, working well on Windows, Android, Solaris and iOS. Its functionality is similar to popular desktop software for image editing but it looks quite different. On Linux, it is a command line application; a basic graphical user interface is included, but it's nowhere near as sophisticated as the desktop imaging editing programs you'll have used on your laptop.
ImageMagick also has its own application programming interfaces (APIs), but not all hosts install these. You can execute ImageMagick commands by using PHP's exec function instead. By coding the commands, you can essentially manipulate images in an application automatically, without the need for the user to get involved.
Typical Uses on Servers
Most of us have uploaded photographs or avatars to web servers. This is common when creating a profile on forums, social networks and content management systems. ImageMagick can automatically resize the uploaded image to fit the predefined requirements of the system. This is one of its most basic uses on the web.
ImageMagick can also:
Dither an image
Add text to an image (such as a caption)
Reduce the number of colours in a picture (perhaps to reduce file size or create an effect)
Change the tone of a picture (e.g. from normal to sepia)
Convert from one format to another
Rescale an image
Draw lines and shapes
Crop and rotate
Flip images horizontally or vertically
Overlay images on top of each other
Create animated GIFs from single GIFs
Process massive images, such as RAW files
Apply artistic effects to an image
Its versatility and efficiency has made it a prerequisite for many scripts that need image processing capabilities. For example, if you install Drupal, you'll need ImageMagick support in order to use its thumbnail creation feature.
ImageMagick vs GraphicsMagick
As you research ImageMagick hosting, you might come across GraphicsMagick. GraphicsMagick was forked from ImageMagick in 2002. Some users claim that GraphicsMagick is more stable, since its releases are more controlled and backwards compatibility is maintained.
Some developers have switched to GraphicsMagick because it's faster and more efficient; others say that it depends which formats you're working with. Many applications actually use both ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick so they have the best of both worlds. If graphics editing is a critical part of your site, having this versatility will be a real bonus.