Viewing and Editing Meta Data in Visual Basic (VB6)

We have an example project for VB 6 that shows how to use the csXImage ActiveX control to view and edit meta data in JPG and TIFF images. Download the project code.

The demo uses the trial version of csXImage, which must must be registered on the development computer and the licence file must be in the same folder as the .ocx control. Running our installer will have performed the registration and unpacking of files.

The Combo Boxes that contain the various options are set when the form loads, so that their values are easier to see by viewing the code. What is less easy to see is that there are a number of Frame controls that are on top of each other and each of these is used to display the different sections of the meta data values. The frame that is displayed at the front is selected by the Combo Box.

When the application runs the user can open a JPEG or TIFF file for viewing. The file is selected using the Common Dialogue control and the LoadFromFile csXImage method. Below is a screenshot after loading an image and selecting the EXIF Data frame.

Edit JPEG metadata in VB

When the image is loaded the following code is run to fill the text fields in the frames. Most of the IPTC fields are exposed as string properties so it is a simple matter of reading them and copying them to a caption on the form. In csXImage the IPTC properties are prefixed with FFO_ (for File Info). Caption, CaptionWriter, Headline and SpecialInstructions are examples of these properties. The keywords and supplementary categories are an exception because these allow multiple values. It requires a loop using the count property to read these values into a list box. Urgency is another exception because it contains a number. The Date Created is converted into a short date using the VB Format function.

The Exif data is stored in csXImage as an array of strings, with some helper functions to allow reading and writing. The ExifCount property is used to define a loop and each Exif property and its name is read and added to a list box.

Private Sub ReadFileInfo()

Dim i As Integer

With ImageBox1
  If .ImageLoaded Then
    ' Caption
    txtCaption.Text = .FFO_Caption
    txtCaptionWriter.Text = .FFO_CaptionWriter
    txtHeadline.Text = .FFO_Headline
    txtSpecInst.Text = .FFO_SpecialInstructions

    ' Keywords
    For i = 0 To .FFO_KeywordsCount - 1
      lstKeywords.AddItem .FFO_Keywords(i)
    Next i

    ' Categories
    txtCategory.Text = .FFO_Category
    For i = 0 To .FFO_SuppCatCount - 1
      lstSupCats.AddItem .FFO_SuppCat(i)
    Next i
    If .FFO_Urgency <> 0 Then
      cboUrgency.Text = Str(.FFO_Urgency)
      cboUrgency.Text = "None"
    End If

    ' Credits
    txtByline.Text = .FFO_Byline
    txtBylineTitle.Text = .FFO_BylineTitle
    txtCredit.Text = .FFO_Credit
    txtSource.Text = .FFO_Source

    ' Origin
    txtObjectName.Text = .FFO_ObjectName
    txtDate.Text = Format(.FFO_DateCreated, "Short Date")
    txtCity.Text = .FFO_City
    txtProvince.Text = .FFO_ProvinceState
    txtCountry.Text = .FFO_CountryName
    txtOTR.Text = .FFO_OTR

    ' Copyright & URL
    If .FFO_CopyrightFlag Then
      chkIsCopyright.Value = 1
      chkIsCopyright.Value = 0
    End If
    txtCopyright.Text = .FFO_CopyrightNotice
    txtImageURL.Text = .FFO_ImageURL

    ' Creator Contact
    txtCreator.Text = .FFO_Author
    txtAddress.Text = .FFO_CiAdrExtAdr
    txtCity2.Text = .FFO_CiAdrCity
    txtRegion.Text = .FFO_CiAdrRegion
    txtPostCode.Text = .FFO_CiAdrPcode
    txtCountry2.Text = .FFO_CiAdrCtry

    ' Exif Data
    For i = 0 To .ExifCount - 1
      lstExif.AddItem .ExifName(i) & ": " & .ExifValueByIndex(i)
    Next i
  End If
End With

End Sub

Writing the IPTC data after editing is just the reverse process to reading and it is carried out by the WriteFileInfo function in the demo project. Here is an extract from that function. The keywords are aded singly using FFO_KeywordsAdd.

    ' Caption
    .FFO_Caption = txtCaption.Text
    .FFO_CaptionWriter = txtCaptionWriter.Text
    .FFO_Headline = txtHeadline.Text
    .FFO_SpecialInstructions = txtSpecInst.Text

    ' Keywords
    For i = 0 To lstKeywords.ListCount - 1
      .FFO_KeywordsAdd lstKeywords.List(i)
    Next i

Exif attributes are edited using another form, shown below.

VB ActiveX example to make an EXIF and IPTC editor

The following code is used by the form to collect the Exif tag name and its new value and then the form closes itself.

Private Sub cmdAddOk_Click()

ExifAttName = txtAddName.Text
ExifAttVal = txtAddVal.Text
Unload Me

End Sub

Here is the code that calls the modal form and processes the data returned. ExifSetAttribute requires the exact name of the Exif attribute and the new value as a string, even if the attribute is a numerical or date value. It returns a value of true if the attribute is set successfully. Exif values are usually set by the device which creates the image and it is unlikely that there will be a need to set them later, except perhaps the ImageDescription or one of the date/time values.

Private Sub cmdExifAdd_Click()

Dim AddForm As fAdd

Set AddForm = New fAdd
AddForm.Show vbModal
Set AddForm = Nothing

If Not ImageBox1.ExifSetAttribute(ExifAttName, ExifAttVal) Then
  MsgBox "Invalid Exif Attribute Specification"
End If


End Sub


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