Photokina 2008: The Metadata Working Group, an alliance between Adobe, Apple, Canon, Microsoft, Nokia and Sony has published its first guidelines on the use of image metadata. The guidelines suggest methods to increase interoperability and storage of shooting settings and other associated data in digital images. It aims at standardizing the availability of metadata across all applications and devices, making it easier for users to create, organize and share their pictures.

Click here to download the guidelines set by Metadata Working Group

Press Release:

Metadata Working Group Introduces First Specification for Interoperability and Preservation of Metadata in Digital Photography

COLOGNE, Germany — Sept. 24, 2008 - At Photokina 2008, industry-leading companies announced the Metadata Working Group, an organization formed in 2007 dedicated to solving key interoperability issues that make finding, organizing and searching for digital photos a challenge.

Today, the Metadata Working Group has also introduced its first specification, which provides guidelines designed to increase interoperability and preservation of metadata in digital photographs.

“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.”

Metadata, sometimes referred to as “data about data,” is important to digital photography because it allows photographers to tag their digital photos with information such as where and when they were taken.

For both professional photographers and consumers, this enables basic activities such as being able to find and share photos. 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.

“We’ve chosen to address the most common issues photographers face as we feel this will make the biggest impact for the average photographer,” Weisberg said. “Down the road, we will expand our work to include other metadata issues relevant to photographers.”