Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guidelines for Handling Photo Metadata

The "Metadata Working Group" made a major announcement at Photokina on September 24th, 2008 and released a document designed to help developers by providing best practices on how to create, read and modify a set of core metadata values within digital images that use Exif, IPTC-IIM (legacy IPTC) and XMP metadata. The groups involved in this initiative include a number of long-standing digital imaging and metadata advocates you might expect, such as Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., and Microsoft Corp.; as well as a few you might not: Canon Inc., Nokia Corp. and Sony Corp.

The primary thrust of the Metadata Working group is to reveal issues regarding how metadata is exchanged and preserved as it moves between applications and processes (devices, platforms and services), file formats and metadata standards. Their whitepaper, titled, "Guidelines for Handling Metadata" discusses the use of a small number of current metadata fields which are part of existing standards which deal with what they feel are the key questions that most consumers have about images:

-Who is involved with this image (who took it, who owns it, who’s in it)?
-What is interesting about this image?
-Where is this image from?
-When was this image created or modified?

Their goal is to provide best practices on how these nine critical data fields (Keywords, Description, Date/Time, Orientation, Rating, Copyright, Creator, Location [created], and Location [shown]), should be synchronized so consumer don't face the kinds of interoperability issues professionals have been dealing with for a number of years.

This includes things such as how, when and where metadata should be changed in popular consumer still image file formats using existing industry metadata standards. A wide scale adoption of these best practices should solve many current problems that plague the photo community.

While this initial effort targets consumer still-imaging metadata, rather than those of the professional; they expressed plans to expand their efforts. Josh Weisberg, chairman and founder of the Metadata Working Group and director of Microsoft's Rich Media Group said that, "We've chosen to address the most common issues photographers face as we feel this will make the biggest impact for the average photographer," noting that "Down the road, we will expand our work to include other metadata issues relevant to photographers."

Details are available from their website.