I installed ImageMagick for fun on a site I am building to see what differences it would make. The image quality of resized thumbnails was drastically improved and immediately noticeable. As expected, CPU utilization during image resizing was significantly higher, but I think it’s totally worth it!
Installing the ImageMagick PHP module on Ubuntu Server 12.04 64-bit was super easy:
sudo apt-get install php5-imagick
I’m using the WordPress plugin located at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/imagemagick-engine/ which will automatically enable ImageMagick usage throughout WordPress after checking “Enable enhanced image engine” in the plugin’s setting page. It also features a thumbnail regeneration script that detects custom thumbnail sizes added to your site.
An added bonus to the WordPress plugin is the ability to support the command line usage of ImageMagick.
Installing the binaries for the command line conversion utility is done with:
sudo apt-get install imagemagick
The convert binary will reside in path /usr/bin/ which you will need to provide to the plugin.
The main benefit I see when using the command line utility is that it lets you process the images outside of the PHP and web service processes. This can assist with preventing degradation of server page generation and response times during image conversion since separate processes will be spawned.
This is a huge benefit for sites that need to squeeze every last ounce of PHP performance from their servers and gives ImageMagick the advantage over PHP’s internal GD image manipulation library. Additional configuration will be required for modifying the scheduling of the convert utility.