Monday, August 11, 2008

Tagged Image File Format

Tagged Image File Format (abbreviated TIFF) is a file format for storing images, including photographs and line art. It is now under the control of Adobe Systems. Originally created by the company Aldus for use with what was then called "desktop publishing", the TIFF format is widely supported by image-manipulation applications, by publishing and page layout applications, by scanning, faxing, word processing, optical character recognition and other applications. Adobe Systems, which acquired Aldus, now holds the copyright to the TIFF specification. TIFF has not had a major update since 1992, though several Aldus/Adobe technical notes have been published with minor extensions to the format, and several specifications, including TIFF/EP, have been based on the TIFF 6.0 specification.

The TIFF is a flexible, adaptable file format for handling images and data within a single file, by including the header tags (size, definition, image-data arrangement, applied image compression) defining the image's geometry. For example, a TIFF can be a container file holding compressed JPEG and RLE (run-length encoding) images. A TIFF also can include a vector-based Clipping path (outlines, croppings, image frames). The ability to store image data in a lossless format makes the TIFF file a useful image archive, because, unlike standard JPEG files, the TIFF using lossless compression (or none) may be edited and re-saved without losing image compression; other TIFF options are layers and pages.

Although the currently accepted standard format, when the TIFF was introduced, its extensibility provoked compatibility problems. Programmers were free to specify new tags and options — but not every implemented program supported every tag created. Resultantly, the TIFF became the lowest common denominator image file. Today, the most TIFF images and readers remain based upon uncompressed 32-bit CMYK or 24-bit RGB images.

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