The Metadata Working Group, an organization formed to address digital photo interoperability issues, has released its first specification entitled Guidelines for Handling Image Metadata. The spec provides guidelines designed to increase interoperability and preservation of metadata in digital photographs.
Metadata, sometimes referred to as "data about data," is important to digital photography because it lets photographers tag digital photos with information such as where and when they were taken. Although the digital photography industry has several metadata standards, these existing standards often overlap in purpose and lack interoperability guidance. The result is that many interoperability scenarios between devices, applications, and services are not possible because no clearly defined rules and standards exist to ensure consistent use. The Metadata Working Group's initial guidelines target still photo metadata, with a focus on common consumer uses. The guidelines also identify overlapping content between existing standards and schemas.
"Lack of metadata interoperability has led to significant frustration for both consumer and pro photographers, and our companies have spent considerable resources trying to deal with the problem," said Josh Weisberg, chairman and founder of the Metadata Working Group and director of Microsoft's Rich Media Group. "Getting these industry leaders together to rally around metadata interoperability is a real turning point, one that we believe will result in technology that's easier for photographers to use. We've been working very hard to produce guidelines that are compatible across all applications, devices and services and that provide best practices for how, when and where metadata should be changed in popular file formats."
The Metadata Working Group (MWG) was created in 2007 by Adobe, Apple, Canon, Microsoft, and Nokia. Sony joined the organization in 2008. The group focuses on the preservation and seamless interoperability of digital media metadata, and interoperability and availability to all applications, devices, and services.