New XMP SDKs released

I am proud to announce that we have released 2 new SDKs related to XMP in the XMP Developer Center.

The first is the XMP Toolkit 4.4 which is available under a BSD license and includes support for new file formats: ASF (WMA, WMV), FLV; MPEG4; SWF; and folder-based video formats AVCHD, P2, SonyHDV, and XDCAM.

The second SDK is the FileInfo SDK that documents how to customize the metadata UI across the CS4 applications. Since the CS4 metadata UI is based on Flex, it provides the ability to connect to web services and use custom Flash based UIs.

We have also provided a 3 part specification that clearly outlines the XMP data model and serialization methods, standard schemas that are support in Adobe products, and importantly how XMP packets are stored in various file formats.

Metadata Working Group

Metadata Working Group

Adobe, Apple, Canon, Microsoft, Nokia, and Sony announced the formation of the Metadata Working Group (MWG) at Photokina recently.  The MWG is focused on improving the customer experience with digital media as it move across various devices, operating systems, and online services.

The problem is simple to describe – make sure that when I tag my photos I can view those tags wherever I want.  So that when I capture a photo on my phone, add a keyword, then upload it to a sharing site – the online service will display my tags.  Similarly when I download the photo and view it on my computer or in my applications, it will also display the information I added.

The challenge is in coordinating and agreeing between different companies on how this is going to happening.  The MWG specification is a first step towards handling this for primarily consumer digital images.  Recently the effort was endorsed by the IPTC and PLUS organizations.

The specification is pretty technical since it is written for developers so that they can implement the same policies the MWG companies will adopt.  The great news is that XMP plays a strong role in the specification, in addition to other standards such as Exif and IPTC.

Participating in the working group discussions was actually a lot of fun.  It got very technical and philosophical at times but it was a great feeling knowing that we were all working towards a common goal to improve the lives of our customers.

After all, photos are the gateway to so many of our experiences, and metadata helps us re-tell our story.  Preserving that information will be valuable for future generations, just like the notes written on the back of a physical photograph.

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Public Patent License for XMP

In the spirit of openness, we have posted a public patent license for the XMP specification on the XMP Developer Center. In the past we have received many inquires about the patent position on XMP, especially from larger corporations looking to implement the XMP specification.

What this public document provides is an open and free public license to develop and distribute compliant implementations of XMP:

Adobe grants every individual and organization in the world the right, under all Essential Claims that Adobe owns, to make, have made, use, sell, import and distribute Compliant Implementations.

This will further remove barriers to the adoption and use of XMP and a metadata standard across our partner solutions and ecosystems. Which is really exciting because better interoperability results in a better customer experience when media is exchanged across applications and services.

Metadata’s dead…

But the memories live on. Looks like the funeral industry in Japan has found a unique way to link to the deceased.

I talk about XMP metadata as a communication technology carried within the media but I never thought of it in terms of channeling my ancestors. Talk about embedded metadata, the QR codes are chiseled right into the tombstone.

Metadata seems to always add value to whatever it touches, even in creepy weird ways.

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InDesign Scripting with XMP

I get frequent requests for how XMP can be used to automate the assembly and design process. This script demonstrates the ability to pull the Author and Document Title metadata info in the placed asset and place it in the InDesign document.

Thanks Steve for the blog posting.

Imagine if we were to start automating workflows based on other pieces of metadata… like rights information or design constraints – what would you like to see?


XMP in the news

Some new products that have added XMP support – looks like Drupa (happening this week) is spinning up PR announcements…

* NAPC Elegant 3.0 includes support for XMP in their Xinet connector plugin

* Fototime has added XMP support – looks like this was back in March

* ICS is showing approval sign- off via embedded XMP PDF support

Communication + Plex = Complex?

TimeTube is a very nice UI for visualizing YouTube content no only as a timeline but as a list view, flipbook and map view. A interesting example of how to navigate videos with metadata.

I have been reading Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger – i am about halfway through. It reinforced the importance of faceted search as a navigation mode through loosely tagged media. Not everything can fit within a hierarchy, and there is value in slicing the information in different dimensions.

With different ways of navigating the information and the complexity of video (time based) metadata, we are going to see a renaissance in the display, experience and interaction with information. Infosthetics is a great site that has a beat on this with new examples all the time.

With the release of Microsoft’s Plex, we may all be navigating metadata with our bodies rather than our mice.

I have a saying – “The more complex life gets, the more valuable design becomes.” – It’s going to be interesting what the Wii Gen will come up with for communication interfaces…

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Eureka Like Metadata

Something is starting to smell… like success. I read Joseph Bachana’s article over at CMS Watch on Innovations in DAM, Circa 2008 – His view is that XMP is starting to take off driven by customer demand.

“Ever since the XMP spec was first released in 2005, commentators predicted the standard was on the verge of taking off, but it never quite did…until perhaps last year. Within the past year, virtually all of the digital asset management implementations my company has executed have included the XMP spec to varying degrees. It might be that we’re influencing that as a consulting firm, but more often than not the customer is driving.”

Well XMP has been around since the turn of the century (not 2005). It’s taken a while for it to get adopted across the Adobe toolset and mature into a key technology. The turning point was updating the XMP Toolkit – the developer SDK that provides the same exact libraries that Adobe applications use to process metadata.

This was additionally reinforced at the Henry Stewart Asset Management Conference that just wrapped up in Liberty City…er I mean NY. Even though Adobe didn’t have a booth, there was a lot of buzz about XMP from customers and partners alike.

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Economics of Trust and Permanent Metadata

Recently, there have been some great concern regarding Orphan Works legislation within the photography community.  There is a lot FUD going around and attempts to address it - some of these discussion ultimately come down to the need for "permanent metadata" or more security ala DRM.

But this isn't an issue about security - the issue is about business - which is about trust between buyer and seller - making sure that the transaction can occur as smoothly, easily and robustly as possible.

Remember the time when there weren't UPC labels (I barely do) - people went around tagging assets in the stores with prices, someone had to retype each tag into another machine to process a transaction. Time consuming but even price tagging was a revolution in metadata and efficiency over haggling over the price of an asset. UPC labels took it a quantum step further so that even today there are self-scan, self-pay stations - talk about trust!

Yeah, there still are thieves and people who switch tags but there always will be - it's a cost of doing business. It doesn't make
economic sense to shop for groceries in a bank vault.

There is a lot we can do to move the industry from haggling to UPC automation - so to speak. But it will involve opening up the pathway for information flow throughout the Adobe toolset and making it robust but only to the point it makes economic sense.

This is where the DRM argument comes into context - it doesn't make economic sense depending on the business transaction - In the grocery analogy, my oranges don't have a security tag around it but my $100 bottle of champagne might (if you live where I do). But ultimately it's the seller's choice.

Increasing the information flow mean preserving the metadata wherever possible, across file transformations, copy paste, compositing, etc.

Making it robust means, adding IDs (like UPC labels) that stay with the file and can be resolved to an owner. It may also mean storing those IDs in more robust places in the file in case the metadata gets accidentally stripped.

Yes ubiquity and security pull in opposite directions, but it's about finding the right tension based on the economics of business which is ultimately the economics of trust.

What do you think Adobe could do to move the industry forward?

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Introduction to XMP from IDEAlliance

IDEAlliance is providing a free introductory webinar on XMP. on May 8th @ 2:00 Eastern. IDEAlliance is a non-profit standards organization that is focused on defining best practices within the publishing and information technology industry.

There is also a XMP-Open event May 14th from 9:00-12:00 in New York that I will attend. If you are interested in how metadata can improve your business, and sharing best practices, this is the event to attend.

I have been working with IDEAlliance for many years on multiple efforts related to metadata and XMP. The Digital Imaging Submission Standards (DISC) was the first to use XMP as a standard for information exchange between the pro photographer and magazine publisher. The PRISM Standard (Publishing Requirements for Industry Standard Metadata) version 2.0 is based on XMP as well.

In general I have seen a growth of communities and industries coming together to standardize the exchange of information related to media exchanged. This fits the XMP model perfectly since the information can be embedded directly in the media. It also helps that Adobe’s creative tools can be extended to support custom namespaces and schemas.

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