Let’s resume the short descriptions on most popular raster image file formats and today take a short overview of the « senior » TIFF bitmap format, which will soon be 30 years old, quite an admirable age when it comes to computing.
TIFF (« Tagged Information File Format », file extensions .tif or .tiff) format was officially released back in 1986 by Aldus Corporation (now Adobe) with the intention of providing a standardized format for files resulted from 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 no important improvements were requested by users.
Such flexibility (which actually also translates into complexity) makes us tell you but few words about TIFF, to draw a quick portrait sketch by using just few lines.
To put it in a nutshell, TIFF allows 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 luxuriant 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 scaning important documents, desktop publishing or even storing master-versions of photos.
Of course this clean and open format has its drawbacks too, the biggest one being about size.
But keeping in mind the various lossy and losless 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.
And its 4 GB maximum size limitation didn’t prove to be a main reason of 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 for sharing images over the web, but its baseline specifications along with the wide range of subformats which extends up to exotic boundaries such as the GeoTIFF developed by NASA makes it perfect to store master copies for long-lasting purposes.
But being highly successfull, 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 complex 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 90 file formats including PDF.
Next week we are going to tell you some practical basics on PNG.
See you then!