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Tagged Image File Format

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a bitmap file format for images, created by Aldus for use with PostScript printing. TIFF became the de-facto standard graphics format for high bit-depth (32-bit) graphics, and is widely used in image manipulation programs like Photoshop, DTP, scanners, and can be directly manipulated by PostScript.

TIFF includes a number of options that can be used to include all sorts of image formats in the file, this is the purpose of the "tags" that are included in a header. Many of these tags indicate simple geometry of the image, like its size, but others define how the data is arranged and various compression options. For instance, TIFF can be used as a container for JPEG or RLE compressed images, and in this respect is completely universal.

However when TIFF was first introduced, programmers were unwilling to invest the time to support all of the options. As a result the lowest common denominator soon became "the" TIFF, and even today the vast majority of TIFF files, and the code that reads them, are based on a simple 32-bit uncompressed image.

External links:

The TIFF Image File Format (http://web.archive.org/web/20011124044535/http%3A//www.ee.cooper.edu/courses/course_pages/past_courses/EE458/TIFF/)
- good discussion of the format and how it works



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