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Load and write texturemaps?

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Hi, I have been using classes that are a part of the program I'm making a plugin for for dealing with bitmaps but I have come to the conclusion that it deals with them very slowly, especially writing to disk. So now I want a new way to load, get pixel information and write to texturemaps that is fast and efficient. I have not worked a lot with bitmaps in windows but I understand the basic concepts. Are there any standards that are widely used that I should be using? Tutorials? I also need to make sure I can load a wide variety of filetypes. I'd rather not sit down and try to write specific loaders for every filetype so if there is something more generic available that would be best. Thanks.

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Yeah come on, give it to me now.

I guess what I need is a pre written solution for loading many types of image files. Is there something like that around?

While I'm interested in how it works under the hood what I mainly need is to be able to open an image, get lines of pixels, alter lines of pixels and then write to the file.

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