TIFF is a computer file format for storing raster graphics images, popular among graphic artists, the publishing industry, and both amateur and professional photographers in general. The format was originally created by the company Aldus for use in desktop publishing. When Adobe Systemsacquired Aldus, they published Version 6 (1993) of the TIFF specification which dropped the Microsoft reference. TIFF remains a published specification under the control of Adobe Systems.
The TIFF format is widely supported by image-manipulation applications, by publishing and page layout applications, and by scanning, faxing, word processing, optical character recognition and other applications. Adobe Systems, which acquired Aldus, now holds the copyright to the TIFF specification. TIFF has not had a major update since 1992, though several Aldus/Adobe technical notes have been published with minor extensions to the format, and several specifications, including TIFF/EP (ISO 12234-2), TIFF/IT (ISO 12639), TIFF-F (RFC 2306) and TIFF-FX (RFC 3949) have been based on the TIFF 6.0 specification.
Adobe holds the copyright on the TIFF specification (aka TIFF 6.0) along with the two supplements that have been published. All of these documents can be found on the Adobe TIFF Resources page. The Fax standard in RFC 3949 is based on these TIFF specifications.
TIFF files that strictly use the basic “tag sets” as defined in TIFF 6.0 along with restricting the compression technology to the methods identified in TIFF 6.0 and are adequately tested and verified by multiple sources for all documents being created can be used for storing documents. Commonly seen issues encountered in the content and document management industry associated with the use of TIFF files arise when the structures contain proprietary headers, are not properly documented, and/or contain “wrappers” or other containers around the TIFF datasets, and/or include improper compression technologies, or those compression technologies are not properly implemented.
Variants of the TIFF format can be used within document imaging and content/document management systems using CCITT Group IV 2D compression which supports black-and-white (bitonal, monochrome) images, among other compression technologies that support color. When storage capacity and network bandwidth was a greater issue than commonly seen in today’s server environments, high-volume storage scanning, documents were scanned in black and white (not in color or in grayscale) to conserve storage capacity.
The inclusion of the SampleFormat tag in TIFF 6.0 allows TIFF files to handle advanced pixel data types, including integer images with more than 8 bits per channel and floating point images. This tag made TIFF 6.0 a viable format for scientific image processing where extended precision is required. An example would be the use of TIFF to store images acquired using scientific CCD cameras that provide up to 16 bits per photosite of intensity resolution. Storing a sequence of images in a single TIFF file is also possible, and is allowed under TIFF 6.0, provided the rules for multi-page images are followed.