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DIG35 - The Digital Imaging Metadata Standard

Digital Imaging Group (DIG) Announces the Completion of DIG35, the Digital Imaging Metadata Standard

New Specification Available for Public Download on DIG Web Site For Developers of Imaging Products and Services

August 30, 2000.

The Digital Imaging Group (DIG) today released the final DIG35 Metadata Specification [version 1.0] providing a cohesive and consistent set of metadata definitions to the imaging industry.

DIG35 provides the first persistent way for digital images to become rich, completely self-contained sources of information, regardless of where they travel on the global network. With millions of digital images now produced yearly, this capability is critical for enabling users to effectively organize, find, retrieve and share their images instantly.

DIG35 member companies, Adobe Systems Inc., AGFA-GEVAERT N.V., Canon Inc., Eastman Kodak Co., Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., HP, Microsoft Corp., NETIMAGE, PhotoChannel Networks Inc., PhotoWorks Inc., PictureIQ Corp., Polaroid Corp., and have collaborated for 18 months to create a robust platform agnostic, application and file format independent set of metadata for describing elements of an image.

"Metadata is absolutely crucial to managing your assets," said Tony Henning, senior analyst at Future Image. "It is perhaps more valuable than the object it describes. It is your intellectual capital." Alexis Gerard, president of Future Image agreed and continued, "The marriage of objects and metadata have exponentially more value than either component in isolation. Every object that travels around the global network can be its own stand-alone catalogue record, ready to be understood, organized, retrieved and utilized intelligently. The power this brings to the user cannot be overstated."

Businesses, professionals and consumers can all utilize metadata in order to manage images. For example, e-commerce businesses can manage and utilize their assets more effectively and efficiently by simply being able to quickly retrieve the right image for any given purpose. Instead of spending valuable time painstakingly looking at each image file to determine the content, businesses can search by any associated metadata to locate an image and read the descriptive elements. By using XML as the recommended encoding method, DIG35 is Internet ready and easy to implement on e-commerce sites.

Professional photographers can associate information about camera settings, copyright information and image manipulation techniques within the image in order to recreate images and recap their work. Additionally, consumers can easily share their captured experiences by using metadata to tell the story or narration behind their images. For example, they can use image-editing software on their PC to add explanatory captions to each photo from their vacation in China, and then upload those photos to a photo sharing Web site. The DIG35 enabled photo Web site would understand and save all the captions, freeing the user from having to input the information a second time. Friends and family around the globe can then not only see the pictures, but also experience the entire story and history behind them in the storyteller's absence.

Photo finishing Web sites could also implement DIG35 to allow easier print ordering for their customers. For example, users could instruct the service to send prints of all the pictures of "baby Corinne" to "Grandma." The Web photo service would conduct a search within the metadata for all photos containing "baby Corinne," look up "Grandma" in the address book, and easily facilitate the request.

"The DIG35 standard marks a significant advancement in the digital imaging industry as it addresses the need for an effective, standardized way to manage the growing number of digital images, and ultimately enable the realization of their potential value," said Lisa Walker, president of the DIG. "The next step for the DIG is to educate developers and industry leaders about this pivotal new standard to ensure rapid and widespread industry adoption."

"The DIG35 Metadata Specification provides a comprehensive set of content-focused metadata definitions," said Jennifer Neumann, president of Canto. "This is an important move, as metadata defines the value of all assets. Therefore Canto is committed to support this new standard by releasing a 'Cumulus/Dig35 Metadata Exchange Module' in Q4 2000."

Using the DIG35 specification, applications are enabled to handle metadata in a consistent manner, allowing it to remain associated with the image as long as desired. Consequently, friends and colleagues will also be able to view all associated metadata in any imaging application or any file format that supports the specification. End users will also be able to find and sort images as well as create "virtual rolls" of images with similar metadata enhancing their ability to conduct keyword searches on large image collections.

According to Kats Ishii of Canon Inc. and chair of the DIG35 Initiative Group, "DIG35 will not only help to avoid the digital equivalent of a 'shoebox' of images, but will also allow for business and professional users to easily find and repurpose existing images, therefore, saving valuable time and money on imaging projects."

Anticipating future public and propriety expansions and industry changes, the DIG35 specification is file-format independent, developer friendly and will be able to mature with the market. The specification's common baseline definitions may be supported in different file formats and consistently implemented within various applications with a relational database or other data storage methods.

The specification also includes a reference encoding method using the current industry standard language XML. Using the XML DTD and schema provided, developers can easily implement the DIG35 Metadata Specification in their own imaging applications. Additionally, DIG35 can be used as a single standard interchange format between existing applications that each use different proprietary metadata formats, allowing users to greatly extend and leverage their existing intellectual capital investments.

The DIG35 Metadata Specification has been reviewed by the public, by several universities, and by organizations such as the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) JPEG2000 Working Group. The relevant portions of the specification have been submitted to the JPEG2000 file format subgroup and have been incorporated into the JPEG2000 Part 2 specification committee draft.

The DIG35 Metadata Specification, including the XML DTD and schema, is available today for public download on the DIG Web site at For more information about the DIG35 Initiative Group or to download the DIG35 Metadata Specification, visit the DIG Web site at

About the Digital Imaging Group

Launched in October 1997, the DIG is an open-industry consortium created to expand the use of digital images across consumer, business and professional imaging markets and applications. Membership gives companies the opportunity to help define the evolving technical platforms in digital imaging, and to create solutions built on those foundations. Membership also gives participating companies the opportunity to collaborate in future marketing and promotional activities. Further information about the DIG and DIG35 is available at or by contacting the DIG at, or 650/872-8722.

Note 2002-03: the website is now at

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See "DIG35: Metadata Standard for Digital Images."

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