Although it’s not especially glamorous, metadata–information about files–is vital. Without metadata, files are like unlabeled cans on a shelf: you’d have to open up each one to find out what it contains. Adobe has been making some notable progress with metadata lately:
- The company has recently teamed up with Apple, Canon, Microsoft, Nokia, and Sony to form the Metadata Working Group. The group aims to drive standards & best practices that’ll enable better compatibility now & in the future. Metadata PM Gunar Penikis shares more details on his blog.
- Save for Web has been enhanced in CS4 to help photographers preserve copyright and contact info without adding unnecessary bloat to Web-ready images. A new menu (screenshot) enables fine-grained control over exactly what metadata goes out in a file. Special thanks go to Richard Anderson and the ASMP/UPDIG folks, with whom we worked closely in defining the implementation, for their guidance & for keeping us on our toes.
- File Info in Photoshop, Bridge, and the other CS4 apps is now Flash-based. Most people may not know or care (that is, you don’t have to do anything different/weird because of this architectural change), but the door is now open to building network-aware metadata components. A newspaper, for example, could have File Info pull a keyword list from a central server, ensuring that everyone uses the same controlled vocabulary. Here’s a screenshot of an experimental panel the metadata team whipped up with Yahoo, offering related terms for each keyword. I look forward to sharing a mapping/geotagging example, hopefully soon.
- You can also use a Flash UI to read/write metadata from a panel (palette). A developer could, for example, create a panel that reads license terms from the image, determines whether you still have rights to use it, and displays the photographer’s contact info.
- Layer-based metadata makes it possible to associate information with individual layers. This one deserves its own post.