Friday, December 11, 2020

Making high-resolution screenshots of Emacs frames

Emacs 27.1 can utilise Cairo drawing backend to take screenshots of itself via x-export-frames function. Unfortunately, the bare bone function is all we have here–there's no UI to it. Moreover, it doesn't support bitmap fonts, which means if you still use, say, Terminus, you get garbage in the output.

I wanted to share a screenshot of a Emacs frame on twitter. Twitter doesn't accept SVGs, for net income of $1.47bn isn't enough to support such a complex thing. The best way to obtain an arbitrary high-resolution png is to get it from a vector image. I found that postscript->png gives the best results & requires only ghostscript installed.

(defun my--screenshot-png(out)
"Save a screenshot of the current frame as a png file. Requires ghostscript."
(let ((ps (concat out ".tmp")))
(my--screenshot ps 'postscript)
(call-process "gs" nil (get-buffer-create "*Shell Command Output*") nil
"-sDEVICE=png16m" "-dBATCH" "-dNOPAUSE"
"-r300" "-dTextAlphaBits=4" "-dGraphicsAlphaBits=4"
(concat "-sOutputFile=" out) ps)
(delete-file ps)

We use 300 dpi here to render a png. my--screenshot function below temporally changes a frame font to Inconsolata:

(defun my--screenshot(out format)
(let ((fontdef (face-attribute 'default :font)))
(set-frame-font "Inconsolata 10")
(with-temp-file out
(insert (x-export-frames nil format)))
(set-frame-font fontdef))

The last bit left is to provide a prompt for a user where to save the screenshot:

(defun my-ss()
"Save a screenshot of the current frame in a file"
(let* ((out (expand-file-name (read-file-name "Output file name: ")))
(ext (file-name-extension out)))
((equal "png" ext)
(my--screenshot-png out))
((equal "ps" ext)
(my--screenshot out 'postscript))
(my--screenshot out (intern ext)))


M-x my-ss<RET>
Output file name: ~/Downloads/1.png<RET>

The physical image size here is 3133x3642.

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