Once in a while I find something on the web that makes me say: It’s about time! That’s what I found a couple of weeks ago. Image metadata and image metadata standards are very important for coming up with any meaningful long term strategy for organizing your pictures. However, with so many standards and acronyms it is very hard to figure out what to do. Do you use EXIF, IPTC or XMP for your strategy? How about all three? I believe I found a really good resource that explains the differences and commonalities between all three standards.
The metadata working group
It’s about time the industry would come together to figure out all these image metadata standards. I was surprised to find out that this group has formed in 2006 and that they already have come up with some standard way of understanding all these image metadarta standards. Here is what they say about themselves.
Will all these image metadata standards be unified?
The Metadata Working Group (MWG) was formed in 2006 as a consortium of leading companies in the digital media industry, focused on the following goals:
Preservation and seamless interoperability of digital image metadata
Interoperability and availability to all applications, devices, and services
The intent of the MWG is to publish technical specifications that describe how to effectively store metadata into digital media files. These royalty-free specifications will be made available to manufacturers and service providers so that they may create products that store metadata in a consistent way, and that allow consumers to maintain control over their valuable information. Where possible, these specifications will rely on existing standards, and will aim to create a unified and cohesive approach to applying these standards.
This all sounds great and they definitely have the right companies: Adobe, Canon, Microsoft, Nokia and Sony.
A picture is worth a thousand words
There is much confusion about image metadata. I have studied the subject over the years and while I think I was able to figure some things out, I am still confused by how much overlap there is between the three standards: EXIF, IPTC and XMP. However, the overlap is not across all three. This picture below puts everything together:
What’s the bottom line
The bottom line I believe is pretty close to my previous article about understanding and using image metadata.
- EXIF is used for capturing camera generate data including image orientation and GPS location. EXIF contains image metadata that is intendend for computers and cameras (machines) to read.
- IPTC is used for capturing image keywords and image geolocation (Read geotagging and geocoding). IPTC contains image metadata intended for humans to read and understand.
- XMP is used to capture image rating as well as image keywords and geolocation. The cool thing about XMP is that it is a standard that can be extended. This type of metadata can be insterted not only in images but in pretty much any type of file.