Hi folks,

Let’s resume the short descriptions on most popular raster image file formats and today take a quick overview of the « senior » TIFF bitmap format, which is now over 30 years old, quite an admirable age when it comes to computing.

How it started

TIFF (« Tagged Information File Format, » file extensions .tif or .tiff) format was officially released back in 1986 by Aldus Corporation (now Adobe) to provide a standardized format for files resulted from the scanning process, as at that time the many existing proprietary formats were creating serious compatibility issues.

Aldus did a great job as TIFF quickly became widely adopted, being a platform-independent and very flexible format.
In fact, it is so flexible that its most recent specifications are dated 21 years ago (in 1992) as a result of the fact that users requested no essential improvements.
Such flexibility (which also translates into complexity) makes us tell you but few words about TIFF, to draw a quick portrait sketch by using just a few lines.

How does it work?

To put it in a nutshell, TIFF allows us to store single/multiple pages at any required quality and to add any imaginable tags from the most basic to private ones. It supports all kinds of color encoding (ranging from B/W, through greyscale and up to color schemes) and many compression algorithms, such as LZW we’ve told you about not so long ago, CCITT or JPEG-based.

By offering such a rich palette of options, TIFF is the best container to store highly detailed image information, and it keeps on being the number one option for digital image preservation. So no wonder why TIFF format is chosen whenever serious storage is required, albeit scanning important documents, desktop publishing, or even storing master-versions of photos.

Size considerations

Of course, this clean and open format has its drawbacks, too, the biggest one being about its size.
But keeping in mind the various lossy and lossless compression options TIFF has to offer as well as the fact that digital storage space is already cheap and gets cheaper and cheaper every day, the size aspect is not a really bothering one at least not for professionals.

03/09/2020 edit:

Even if storage can still be affordable today, people are more and more concerned about their digital carbon footprint and the ecological cost of data centers around the world. 
The Green IT movement suggests several initiatives to reduce companies’ digital carbon footprint, and file size reduction is one of them.
We’ll release some documentation about Green It initiatives at ORPALIS soon, with a focus on our hyper-compression technologies. 

And its 4 GB maximum size limitation didn’t prove to be a primary reason for frustration among users (but should it become one, it can be enhanced by Adobe, which currently holds all rights on TIFF specifications).

All in all, TIFF is not the format one would prefer to share images over the web.
Still, its baseline specifications, along with the wide range of subformats that extends up to exotic boundaries such as the GeoTIFF developed by NASA, makes it perfect for storing master copies for long-lasting purposes.
But being highly successful, TIFF is also highly convertible, so anyone can create more web-suited versions of his treasured images, by converting to formats such as PNG or JPEG.

Needless to say, we support TIFF format and conversions in all our products, offering sophisticated handling options for developers that use our GdPicture.NET SDK within their projects, as well as offering total simplicity for our general public users of PaperScan to annotate or convert TIFFs to or from other 100 file formats including PDF.

Next week we are going to tell you some practical basics on PNG.

See you then!

Bogdan

03/09/2020 edit:

You can now try our conversion engine online with our AvePDF web app!