Friday, September 11, 2009

Let's have a TIFF

Wonderful news from the Wikimedia Technical Blog today: Wikimedia Germany is developing full TIFF support for Wikimedia Commons with implementation scheduled for November.

Earlier this year the WMF developers enabled TIFF uploads to Commons for the first time, mostly at the request of the growing restoration community.  TIFF is a file format that's widely used for many real world applications including archival digitization, but most web browsers do not display it and WMF software is unable to render it.  The new development will make WMF more TIFF-friendly.

TIFF support facilitates file uploads directly from museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions.  It also aids wiki-style collaboration among image editors.  The most popular format for online display (JPEG) is a compressed format that undergoes progressive deterioration from repeated saves and edits.  TIFF support helps media editors improve on each others' work without compromising quality.

Although TIFF is not the only uncompressed file format hosted  at Wikimedia Commons (PNG is another), TIFF's dominance in off-wiki uses means that full TIFF support adds long term scalability to our acquisition of encyclopedic media files.

Kudos to WMF Deutschland!


Jan said...

Well, Tiff is nice but haven't .xcf been a great file format for restorations that has been enabled for quite a long time?

Lise Broer said...

No disrespect intended toward other formats. TIFF support is especially important because it facilitates large scale uploads from cultural institutions that already use the format. The Tropenmuseum of Amsterdam recently uploaded over 2000 low resolution JPEG files to Commons. I've placed a special request from the museum staff for several dozen high resolution uncompressed files from that group. Imagine how much easier collaboration would be if TIFFs were fully supported.

Adam said...

I'm sorry, I have to disagree with you: having full TIFF support *without* anywhere near-competent PNG support is a recipie for disaster, since, when you're scanning a historic image, PNGs are half the size, and so you can upload *twice the resolution* And then idiots will delete the better image, and put up a half-res TIFF, saying it displays.