The Metadata in JPEG files¶
This article shares Tuan's (GSoC13 Student) investigations about the metadata structure in JPEG files. It also introduces briefly the algorithm used in exiv2 to read and write Exif, IPTC, XMP data and image comments on the JPEG files.
JPEG ISO standard is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital photography. The name "JPEG" stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the name of the committee.
JPEG refers only to a class of compression algorithms, not to a specific file format. In order to produce files with embedded JPEG streams, a number of file format standards have been adapted or devised. Some of them are JPEG /JFIF, JPEG /SPIFF (Still Picture Interchange File Format), JPEG /CIFF, JPEG/Exif (Exchangeable image file format).Among them, the most common types are JPEG/Exif and JPEG/JFIF.
- JPEG/Exif is the most common image format used by digital cameras and other photographic image capture devices.
- JPEG/JFIF is the most common format for storing and transmitting photographic images on the World Wide Web.
2. The metadata structure in JPEG¶
A JPEG file contains several segments; each segment contains different kinds of data, delimited by two-byte codes called markers. The markers are hexadecimal; they begin with 0xFF and end with a code (1 byte) indicating the kind of marker.
Some markers consist of just those two bytes; others are followed by two bytes indicating the length of marker-specific payload data that follows. The length includes the two bytes for the length, but not the two bytes for the marker.
|Short name||Bytes||Payload||Name and Comments|
|SOI||0xFF, 0xD8||None||Start Of Image|
|SOF0||0xFF, 0xC0||Variable size||Start Of Frame (Baseline DCT)
Indicates that this is a baseline DCT-based JPEG, and specifies the width, height, number of components, and component subsampling
|SOF2||0xFF, 0xC2||Variable size||Start Of Frame (Progressive DCT)
Indicates that this is a progressive DCT-based JPEG, and specifies the width, height, number of components, and component subsampling
|DHT||0xFF, 0xC4||Variable size||Define Huffman Table(s)|
|DQT||0xFF, 0xDB||Variable size||Define Quantization Table(s)|
|DRI||0xFF, 0xDD||2 bytes||Define Restart Interval
Specifies the interval between RSTn markers, in macroblocks. This marker is followed by two bytes indicating the fixed size so it can be treated like any other variable size segment.
|SOS||0xFF, 0xDA||Variable size||Start Of Scan
Begins a top-to-bottom scan of the image. In baseline DCT JPEG images, there is generally a single scan. Progressive DCT JPEG images usually contain multiple scans. This marker specifies which slice of data it will contain, and is immediately followed by entropy-coded data.
Inserted every r macroblocks, where r is the restart interval set by a DRI marker. Not used if there was no DRI marker. The low 3 bits of the marker code cycle in value from 0 to 7.
|APPn||0xFF, 0xEn||Variable size||Application-specific
For example, an Exif JPEG file uses an APP1 marker to store metadata, laid out in a structure based closely on TIFF.
|COM||0xFF, 0xFE||Variable size||Comment|
|EOI||0xFF, 0xD9||None||End Of Image|
Fig.1. The common JPEG markers. From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPEG
The metadata in JPEG file is stored in APPn (0xFF, 0xEn) segment and the comment is stored in COM segment (0xFF, 0xFE). Several vendors might use the same APPn marker type to include their information, so these markers often begin with a vendor name (e.g., "Exif" or "Adobe") or some other identifying string.
Exiv2 provides fast and easy read write access to the Exif, IPTC and XMP. Hence, this article only focuses on the position of Exif, IPTC and XMP data in JPEG files.
Exif JPEG file uses an APP1 segment to store the information (and multiples APP2 segments for flashPix data). Exif APP1 segment stores a great amount of information on photographic parameters for digital cameras and it is the preferred way to store thumbnail images nowadays. It can also host an additional section with GPS data. All details about Exif are available at [[http://www.exif.org/Exif2-2.PDF]]
In theory, Exif APP1 is recorded immediately after the SOI marker (the marker indicating the beginning of the file). However, this leads to the incompatibility between the Exif and JFIF standards because both of them specify that their particular application segment (APP0 for JFIF, APP1 for Exif) must be the first in the image file. In practice, most JPEG files contain a JFIF marker segment (APP0) that precedes the Exif APP1. This allows older readers to correctly handle the format JFIF segment, while newer readers also decode the following Exif segment, being less strict about requiring it to appear first. This way will not affect the image decoding for most decoders, but poorly designed JFIF or Exif parsers may not recognize the file properly.
Exif APP1 segment consists of the APP1 marker (0xFFE1), Exif identifier string (“Exif\0\0”), and the attribute information itself. The identifier string "Exif\0\0” is used to avoid a conflict with other applications using APP1 (e.g XMP).
Fig.2. Basic Structure of JPEG Files. From Exif.org, http://www.exif.org/Exif2-2.PDF
Exif does not use APPn segments other than APP1, APP2 and COM segments. However, some unknown APPn may still exist on the file structure and Exif readers should be designed to skip over them.
In a typical edited JPEG file, XMP (eXtensible Metadata Platform) information is typically included alongside Exif and IPTC (Information Interchange Model data). XMP uses an APP1 segment in order to store metadata information; the storage format is RDF (Resource Description Framework) implemented as an application of XML.
XMP APP1 segment consists of the APP1 marker (0xFFE1), XMP identifier string (“http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/\x00”), and Unicode XMP packet (the encoding is usually UTF-8, but it can also be UTF-16 or UTF-32). The packet cannot be split in multiple segments, so there is a maximum size of approximately 64KB (2^16-1 bytes).
The structure of the packet content can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-rdf-syntax/.
The reference document for XMP 3.2 can be downloaded from Adobe Systems Incorporated http://xml.coverpages.org/xmp.html
When Adobe first introduced XMP, it was intended to totally contain the XMP block in a single segment of a JPEG. So, the XMP/xml could not be longer that 65k bytes. In 2010, the standard was upgraded to contain a mechanism by which multiple segments could be used.
The application exiv2(.exe) in version 0.25 supports an option -pX to extract the RAW XMP/xml packet from an image. The -pX option supports both the single segment (65k) and multi-segment standard. However libexiv2 generally does not support the multi-segment standard. A future version after v0.25 will fully support multi-segment XMP.
Adobe Photoshop uses the APP13 segment for storing non-graphic information, such as layers, paths, IPTC data and more. The content of an APP13 segment is formed by APP1 marker (0xFFE1), an identifier string (usually "Photoshop 3.0\000", but also 'Adobe_Photoshop2.5:', used by earlier versions) followed by a sequence of resource data blocks. In general, a resource block contains only a few bytes, but there is the important IPTC block can be quite large. The IPTC block may not fit into one APP13 segment, so it can be split into multiple APP13 segments.
The reference document for the Photoshop file format is available at http://www.adobe.com/devnet-apps/photoshop/fileformatashtml/
The ICC profile is stored in one or more APP2 chunks. Although many ICC profiles are small, they can also be more that than a single chunk. Chunks are limited to 65535 bytes by the two-byte chunk length. To address this, the ICC APP2 data has a 16 byte header as follows:
|13||icc total chunks|
The maximum size of an ICC profile is limited to 256 * (63535 - 16) = 16,261,888 bytes. This is quite a large profile!
The first four bytes on an ICC Profile are the length of the file and bigEndian encoded.
3. Exiv2 JPEG read/write metadata algorithms¶
This section introduces briefly about the algorithm used in Exiv2. For more details, please download the source code of Exiv2 and read the code in src/jpgimage.cpp file.
3.1 Read Algorithm¶
From the above investigation, the read algorithm is quite simple. We just need to go through the markers, find and read the content of Exif APP1, XMP APP1, IPTC APP13 segments. Those segments all locate before the SOS segment (which is immediately followed by entropy-coded data) and often locate right after the SOI segment (not guaranteed). Hence, it’s not necessary to read the whole JPEG file to check whether the metadata exists or not; the process can be stopped whenever the marker SOS is found.
Fig.3. Flowchart of readMetadataNotes:
- The standard JPEG files should have at most one Exif APP1 segment and one XMP APP1 segment. Hence, if there’s more than one Exif APP1 segment or one XMP APP1 segment, exiv2 only reads the first segment.
- JPEG files can have multiple comments, but for now exiv2 only reads the first one (most of the jpeg files only have one anyway).
3.2 Write Algorithm¶The general idea for the write algorithm is to find Exif APP1, XMP APP1, IPTC APP13 segments, remove them from the JPEG file and replace them with the new metadata. To simplify this a bit, we agree the following rules (this is standard in most jpegs anyway).
- The order of the Exif, XMP, IPTC segments in the output file (regardless of their positions in the input file)
SOI | (APP0) | (Exif App1) | (XMP App1) | (IPTC App13) | … | EOI
- The COM segment is located just before SOFn in the output file (regardless of its position in the input file).
Fig.4. Flowchart of writeMetadata
The following is an example to show the changes in the structure of JPEG files after the writeMetadata. In this example, after adding the Exif.Photo.UserComment, not only the Exif APP1 segment is added, but the IPTC APP13 is also moved to right after Exif APP1.
$ ./exiv2 -pa test.jpg Iptc.Application2.RecordVersion Short 1 2 Iptc.Application2.Keywords String 4 2010 Iptc.Application2.Keywords String 10 California Iptc.Application2.Keywords String 9 Christmas Iptc.Application2.Keywords String 9 canderson Iptc.Application2.Keywords String 6 nature Iptc.Application2.Keywords String 6 winter Iptc.Application2.Copyright String 12 (C)CANDERSON $ ./exifprint test.jpg -struc STRUTURE OF FILE: marker | size | signature 0xd8 0xe0 16 JFIFHH 0xe2 3160 ICC_PROFILE HLinomntrRGB 0xed 18462 Photoshop 3.08BIM 0xe1 34447 XMP://ns.adobe.com/xmp/extension/ 0xdb 67 0xdb 67 0xc0 17 0xc4 31 0xc4 70 0xc4 29 0xc4 68 0xda 12 0xd9 ----------------- $ ./exiv2 -M"add Exif.Photo.UserComment Hello" test.jpg $ ./exifprint test.jpg -struc STRUTURE OF FILE: marker | size | signature 0xd8 0xe0 16 JFIFHH 0xe1 66 ExifIIi 0xed 18462 Photoshop 3.08BIM 0xe2 3160 ICC_PROFILE HLinomntrRGB 0xe1 34447 XMP://ns.adobe.com/xmp/extension/ 0xdb 67 0xdb 67 0xc0 17 0xc4 31 0xc4 70 0xc4 29 0xc4 68 0xda 12 0xd9 ----------------- Exif.Image.ExifTag 0x8769 Long 1 26 Exif.Photo.UserComment 0x9286 Undefined 13 Hello
This example shows the output using exiv2(.exe) for v0.25 which has an option -pS to print the structure of the image file. You can clearly see the position of the APP1 Exif block, the APP1 XMP block and the APP13 PhotoShop block which hosts the IPTC data. exiv2(.exe) also has an option -pX to extract the raw XMP for external processing. Both the Exif and Iptc data blocks are stored using the TIFF container specification. The example in the TIFF document illustrates how to extract and print the structure of the Exif data written in TIFF format. http://dev.exiv2.org/projects/exiv2/wiki/The_Metadata_in_TIFF_files
$ exiv2 -pa ~/test.jpg Exif.Image.Make Ascii 18 NIKON CORPORATION .... Exif.Thumbnail.YCbCrPositioning Short 1 Centered Iptc.Envelope.ModelVersion Short 1 4 Iptc.Envelope.CharacterSet String 3 %G Iptc.Application2.RecordVersion Short 1 4 Iptc.Application2.Caption String 27 Mrs Johnson's Austin Office Xmp.xmp.Rating XmpText 1 0 Xmp.xmp.ModifyDate XmpText 25 2015-02-13T20:46:51-06:00 Xmp.dc.description LangAlt 1 lang="x-default" Mrs Johnson's Austin Office $ exiv2 -pS ~/test.jpg STRUCTURE OF JPEG FILE: /Users/rmills/test.jpg address | marker | length | data 2 | 0xd8 SOI 4 | 0xe1 APP1 | 14862 | Exif..II*..................... 14868 | 0xe1 APP1 | 699 | http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/.< 15569 | 0xe2 APP2 | 4094 | MPF.II*...............0100.... 19665 | 0xed APP13 | 110 | Photoshop 3.0.8BIM.......6.... 19777 | 0xdb DQT | 132 19911 | 0xc0 SOF0 | 17 19930 | 0xc4 DHT | 418 20350 | 0xda SOS | 12 837 rmills@rmillsmbp:~/gnu/exiv2/trunk/website $ exiv2 -pX ~/test.jpg | xmllint -pretty 1 - <?xml version="1.0"?> <?xpacket begin="" id="W5M0MpCehiHzreSzNTczkc9d"?> <x:xmpmeta xmlns:x="adobe:ns:meta/" x:xmptk="XMP Core 5.1.2"> <rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#"> <rdf:Description xmlns:xmp="http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" rdf:about="" xmp:Rating="0" xmp:ModifyDate="2015-02-13T20:46:51-06:00"> <dc:description> <rdf:Alt> <rdf:li xml:lang="x-default">Mrs Johnson's Austin Office</rdf:li> </rdf:Alt> </dc:description> </rdf:Description> </rdf:RDF> </x:xmpmeta> <?xpacket end="w"?> $Note:
- XMP://ns.adobe.com/xmp/extension/ is not the valid XMP identifier string in Exiv2. The valid string should be http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/\x00. Hence, XMP doesn't appear in the output.
- The test.jpg is attached at the bottom of this wiki. You can download and reproduce the above example easily.
|1. Wikipedia. JPEG.||http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPEG.|
|2. Wikipedia. Exif.||http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exif.|
|3. Exif Spec Version 2.2. (Apr, 2002)||http://www.exif.org/Exif2-2.PDF|
|4. C-Cube Microsystems. JPEG File Interchange Format Version 1.02. (Sep, 1992).||http://www.w3.org/Graphics/JPEG/jfif3.pdf|
|5. Adobe. Adobe Photoshop File Formats Specification. (Jun, 2013).||http://www.adobe.com/devnet-apps/photoshop/fileformatashtml/|
|6. Coverpages.org. Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP).||http://xml.coverpages.org/xmp.html|
|7. W3C. RDF/XML Syntax Specification. (Feb, 2004).||http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-rdf-syntax/|
|8. CPAN. The structure of JPEG files.||http://search.cpan.org/dist/Image-MetaData-JPEG/lib/Image/MetaData/JPEG/Structures.pod|
|9. JPEG File Interchange Format File Format Summary.||http://www.fileformat.info/format/jpeg/egff.htm|
|10. Ehow.com. The Structure of a JPEG.||http://www.ehow.com/info_12202329_structure-jpeg.html|