Animated gifs in XAML/C# :)


Someone the other day tweeted a link to some very cool animated gifs. I love animated gifs Smile !!

I have always wanted animated gifs in Silverlight/WPF BUT for reasons unknown they never came. They would have been perfect for A LOT of scenarios where creating storyboard animations would have been overkill.

Well turns out WinRT XAML, firmly rooted in Silverlight XAML, also doesn’t have GIF support nor will it probably ever get it. BUT it does have WinRT support and it has access to DirectX & WIC via SharpDx!!

And today on Twitter Jeremiah Morrill tweeted that WIC has support for GIF’s, this intrigued me. Can I build my own support for animated gifs in XAML using DirectX & WIC (via SharpDx) ?!

Challenge is on ……

This is the animated gif I will try to render…

Source : “Savannah Rain” (frommetoyou)

Default XAML/C# metro app project + SharpDx

I created an empty managed metro project and added the necessary SharpDx bits, basically like I have been over the last several posts.

As always this project has a effect renderer that will render to a (Direct2D or Direct3D) surface via a (SwapChainBackgroundPanel or SurfaceImageSource). Again this is what I’ve been doing in all my SharpDx posts to date so just go back to those or the samples if you’ve forgotten Smile



Animated GIF resource

Now just add the Animated GIF as a content resource to the project. I could load it in via a URI BUT I thought it would be easier to just include it for now .



Load GIF via WIC

Ok this is where it gets interesting, SharpDx gives us access to WIC from C#. Question is does it have the GIF bits.

As I’ve said many times before SharpDx is a very thin/performant wrapper over C++ libraries (but just to clarify there will always be an overhead to using WIC via this wrapper even thou it is small). This wrapper is a metadata mapping generated api so technically the GIF bits of WIC should have come across. Lets test it out.

Lets instantiate a WIC GIFDecoder that will be used to read the animated GIF resource. The “asset” is simple the internal uri to the gif content.


Next when we animate this gif we need to know how many frames to animate. The GIF spec defines this…


Now for each frame we want to get the bitmap of that layer and store it for rendering. There is a lot going on in this code BUT in a nutshell an object is created that lets us get at the bytes of data for a particular frame in the gif. (its easy to follow just step through the code , that’s how I learnt


As it turns out for GIFS the first layer normally has the entire bitmap contents of the GIF and all the other frames above that contain delta information.. Also the ‘delta’ frames are all offseted so we need to get the offset (left,top) of those frames and store them for rendering of that frame later on..



So assuming that SharpDx’s GIF WIC works fine that’s basically all we need information wise.. We just need a way to store those frames and render them to the UI.

…. hello SpriteBatch Smile


The best way to render a series of textures in the graphics world is via a spritebatch. Lets create a very very dirty one that will serve our purposes ..

I’m not going to go into too much detail of how this dirty spritebatch works, it’s not in the truest sense a spritebatch BUT it will do for now..


This spritebatch will keep a cache of the GIFs frames that I will render on a DirectX Surface. I’ve defined 2 lists to store the static frames ( 0 ) and the rotating frames ( 1 – 7 )


I’ve created a way to add sprites (frames) to my spritebatch via the methods

1. DrawAlways  – sprites that will always get rendered on each loop of the rendering pipeline eg. frame 0 of the aimated gif

2. DrawRotating – sprites that will rotate there appearance with each loop of the rendering pipeline eg. frames 1 to 7 of the animated gif



These methods are called when we are decoding our GIF (the section prior to this outlined this process)


The sprite batch, as expected, has the ability to render itself and all it’s sprites. In my example it will render on a D2D surface and will use the much loved BitmapEffect to render the layer Smile .

Also note that the offset(_texturesRotatedOffset) for the layer needs to be rendered for the 1-7 frames


Now if you don’t understand the above just step through the code, it will all make sense..

Does this all work ?!

Does SharpDx’s support for WIC GIF’s work for animated gifs ?!


Running the demo


Here’s some awesome gifs from a very cool site


Here’s the metro xaml/c# demo running one of those animated gifs. Note that the framerate is low because of the simultaneous video recording going on. Without it it runs buttery smooth at 65-70fps. Smile 



Sample code






I started out this experiment fully expecting it NOT to work… I was so surprised that it actually did Smile . Animated gifs in a XAML managed metro app!!! Damn!!

XAML/WinRT + DirectX/WIC (via SharpDx) is turning into a killer combination of features for building pretty amazing new experiences. I’m only now getting familiar with the frameworks, I can’t wait to see what I’ll be creating a month from now!

I’m loving XAML/DirectX …

40 responses to “Animated gifs in XAML/C# :)

  1. Pingback: Animated gifs in XAML/C# :) | Silverlight and other cool things …

  2. Pingback: Windows 8 Developer Links – 2012-05-08 | Dan Rigby

  3. Pingback: Animated gifs in XAML/C# :) :: Learning

  4. I haven’t tried this but looks really cool. Have you tried adding it to a live tile? Would that work?

  5. This is really cool, loving it, but I wonder will this be avaliable for loading in a live tile as well

  6. Pingback: All my XAML/C#/SharpDx demos | Silverlight and other cool things …

  7. can you give a simpler code adding gif animation in xaml/c# for beginner learner?

  8. Seems a great work, but under RTM it doesn’t work. I am not familar with c# so I can’t bringing it to work. Would be great if you can provide a working example.

    Cheers, Franz

  9. Hello, I brought it to run Yeah. So I copy the standardstyle, strange a section shows errror, so commeted it out, in xaml replaced by simple , pointereventargs replaced by PointerRoutedEventArgs.

    So for me as non c# guy i had problems to solve ApplicationView.GetForCurrentView().ViewStateChanged += this.ViewStateChanged; and related private void ViewStateChanged(ApplicationView sender, ApplicationViewStateChangedEventArgs e)

    so I commeted it out, but this should for a c# guy solvable

    For the error
    return new Windows.Foundation.Rect(0, 0, surfaceImageSource.PixelWidth, surfaceImageSource.PixelHeight); I found no solution, so tried with hardcoded
    return new Windows.Foundation.Rect(0, 0, 350, 350);

    With this changes the sample runs at 80Frames and looks very ugly. Is there anybody to bring the code to work at a smooth look?


  10. Heya Jose, looking really good! However, as Franz has said, there is an issue with the framerate in RTM (I think I nearly had a fit from watching it!) There is an horrendous amount of flickering.

    Franz has identified the workarounds for getting the code to compile, although instead of the hardcoded 350 values for width and height, he should use the class level pixelWidth and pixelHeight fields passed to the SurfaceImageSourceTarget constructor.

    The rendering has issues in both the draggable canvas and the panel. The issue appears to be a disjoint in the frame rate and the frame delay (?):

    using: _spriteBatch.FrameDelay = 1 results in very little delay between frames and has no flicker. But of course, the delay being very little is an issue as frames just shoot by.

    Anything greater than 1 has the flickering.

    I guess it has to be in the SpriteBatch Render method. The setup works, as all frames are loaded into the collections in the SpriteBatch, and the gif auto repeats. I have played with the calls between the BeginDraw and EndDraw methods and nothing seems to sort it. Unless there is something in the SurfaceImageSourceTarget.RenderAll method; although it’ll take me a while to work out what that code does!

    Any ideas?

  11. Whoops, was meant to remove that ridiculous paragraph about the disjoint…

  12. I have now also tried it with the latest SharpDX Windows 8 assemblies, and no luck.

    Had to change the GifBitmapDecoder to the base BitmapDecoder class, and all the frames were retrieved successfully still.

    Had to get the latest CommonDX library as well.

  13. Spamming the comments, sorry…

    So, I now understand how your code uses the FrameDelay 🙂

    Rather than having the SurfaceImageSourceTarget’s RenderAll go to waste, I embraced it.

    Instead of:

    if (_currentFrame < FrameDelay) return;
    _currentFrame = 0;

    I use:

    //if (_currentFrame < FrameDelay) return;
    //_currentFrame = 0;

    And then, just after the EndDraw call:

    if (_currentFrame == FrameDelay)
    _currentFrame = 0;

    This way, the same frame is rendered for each time the _currentFrame falls within the delay.


  14. Fixed… sort of. Now the rendering of the gif uses a fair bit of CPU (well, for rendering a gif!!!)

    As long as I dispose it, I should be all good. It can’t be any worse than playing a video in my app.

  15. This is a lot of work when you could just use HTML5 in a WebView.

    • Try using an animated gif that you have downloaded to one of the local storage folders. There is no issue if the gif is online, or is included in the app (as you can use the ms-appx-web schema to open the html file).

      If you can find a way, let me know.

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