Popular Science has an article, “How to convert any file to any format.” The title overreaches, but the article actually isn’t too bad. It’s addressed at the ordinary user, not the file format specialist, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to complain too much that it has more breadth than depth.
It starts by recommending using the application that created the file, and that’s certainly good advice. Even when formats are open standards, an app knows more about how it creates its own files than anyone else does. Its files might have bits of application-specific information.
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This XKCD cartoon showed up in my Twitter feed more times in one day than any previous one, for reasons that should be obvious.
Is PDF/A a good archival format? Many institutions use it, but it has problems which are inherent in PDF. With PDF/A-3, it has lost some of its focus. A format which can be a container for any kind of content isn’t great for digital preservation.
An article by Marco Klindt of the Zuse Institute Berlin takes a strong position against its suitability, with the title “PDF/A considered harmful for digital preservation.” Carl Wilson at the Open Preservation Foundation has added his own thoughts with “PDF/A and Long Term Preservation.”
At this year’s WWDC, Apple introduced a new format for still images and video. The container is called High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF), and it uses a codec called High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). HEIF files can store still images, video, or both at once. Apple doesn’t have proper documentation on its site, as far as I can see, but a slideshow on HEIF and one on HEVC provide a lot of information. Kelly Thompson provides a technical overview.
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Tagged Apple, images, video
The ISO specification for PDF 2.0 is now out. It’s known as ISO 32000-2. As usual for ISO, it costs an insane 198 Swiss francs, which is roughly the same amount in dollars. In the past, Adobe has made PDF specifications available for free on its own site, but I can’t find it on adobe.com. Its PDF reference page still covers only PDF 1.7.
ISO has to pay its bills somehow, but it’s not good if the standard is priced so high that only specialists can afford it. I don’t intend to spend $200 to be able to update JHOVE without pay. With some digging, I’ve found it in an incomplete, eyes-only format. All I can view is the table of contents. There are links to all sections, but they don’t work. I’m not sure whether it’s broken on my browser or by intention. In any case, it’s a big step backward as an open standard. I hope Adobe will eventually put the spec on its website.
July 17 was World Emoji Day. Anyone can declare a World Anything Day, but my local library thought it was important enough to give it part of a sign, along with Cell Phone Courtesy Month.
They didn’t think it was important enough to give accurate information, though. It does tell us something about how non-tech people think of emoji. Here’s the content of the sign, with commentary.
We’ve been hearing reports of Adobe Flash’s death for years. But it’s not over till Adobe says it is, and now Adobe has declared a termination date for Flash support.
Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.
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Tagged Adobe, Flash, HTML
The MobileRead Wiki is a great place to jump into if you’re looking for information on ebook formats. It isn’t uniformly up to date; for instance, it says there is “a new version of [EPUB] called ePub 3 but it is not in wide use.” But it covers lots of formats and has some excellent analysis, especially a look in depth at the Amazon MOBI format.
Archiveteam.org points at that wiki page as its reference on the format, so it seems as close to an “official description” as anyone has offered.
Amazon is the one company that uses MOBI and its bastard children, while everyone else is using EPUB, but obviously Amazon can’t be ignored. It distributes Kindle software so widely that you can read MOBI files on any device.
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Every month. W3Techs records the percentage of websites using popular image file formats. For a long time, PNG was slowly creeping up on JPEG. In the latest numbers, PNG has pulled ahead, being used on 74.1% of websites, against JPEG’s 73.8%. GIF stands at a distant third with 36%, followed by SVG at 3.8%.
Keep in mind, this isn’t the same as saying more PNG images are on the Web than JPEG images. If pages which hold JPEGs contain more of them, there may be more JPEG images even if they aren’t on more sites. Since galleries of JPEG photographs are common, this is a plausible situation.
You can see the trend by looking at the RSS feed. Unfortunately, all links point to the same URL, but if you can view the RSS preview, you can get the old numbers on a monthly basis. The web page is updated daily, which is why the numbers quoted above don’t match the June numbers in the RSS feed.
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Tagged images, JPEG, PNG