Image Editing and Viewing Tools












Michael
Michael
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2004-12-07T11:45:00Z
2005-01-21T03:07:00Z
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Image Editing and Viewing Tools

(as provided in Microsoft Windows and Office)

 

This is an article in progress. It has been created out of the frustration of trying to do some simple viewing and business-type editing tasks with the image tools available from Microsoft. Most of the problems reflect a bizarre lack of communication between the different groups at Microsoft looking after these products.

 

Programs

 

Acronym

Full Name

Notes

Types Handled

Views

Edit Operations

TIFF

MOPM

Microsoft Office Picture Manager

· introduced with Office 2003

·    JPG, BMP, GIF,PNG

·    TIFF (single page)

·    Thumbnail of folder contents

·    Rotate, Flip

·    Crop, Resize, Compress

·    Red-Eye Removal

·    Color, Brightness & Contrast

 

·    Single-page only

MODI

Microsoft Office Document Imaging

· introduced with Office XP/2002

· coupled with MODS (Microsoft Office Document Scanning)

· missing useful clean-up operations such as re-centre, crop,  stretch, erase

· TIFF (proprietary compression format, or LZW for interop)

· MODI (proprietary)

· Thumbnail of file images

· Rotate

· Annotation

· reordering for multi-image TIFFs

· white pen may be used to erase

 

· Default TIFF handler

· Multi-page

· Allows annotation

· OCR

PFV

Windows Picture and Fax Viewer

· Integrated with Explorer

·  

· JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG

· TIFF – multipage

 

· Slideshow

· Fit page

·    Rotate

·    Annotation   

·    Does not allow zoom above 100% for small images

· Multi-page

 

WMP

Windows Media Player

· Image handling introduced with v10 (2004)

·  

· JPG, BMP, GIF

· Problems with rendering many JPGs

· Slideshow

· None

·  

Journal

Windows Journal (Tablet PC only)

· Viewer available on Windows 2000 and XP.

· Sibling of MODI (under the covers)

· TIFF

· JNT (Journal Note file)

· Exports to MHT so that IE may be used as viewer

· Actual

· Fit width

· Fit page

· simple paint operations

· white pen may be used to erase

· Annotation

· Opens but does not allow editing unless saving to JNT

· Can export JNT to B&W TIFF only (Fax-level compression)

IE

Internet Explorer

·  

·    JPG, BMP, GIF,PNG

· Problems with PNG transparency

· Cache-issues generate image save problems

· Zoom via plug-in

·  None

·  N/A

Paint

Paint

· Windows utility

·    JPG, BMP, GIF,PNG

·    TIFF

· Can’t zoom out to factor below 100%

· SDI window or full-screen

· No fit-to-page

· simple paint operations

· white pen may be used to erase

· Resize (via stretch/skew)

· Single-page only

MIC

Microsoft Image Composer

· Briefly lived Office program that grew out of the Picture It codebase

· Powerful program with incomprehensible UI that couldn’t even be used to take screen-captures

·    Many types

· many

· many

· ?

PowerPoint

PowerPoint

· Office program

· Useful as adhoc image editor as individual slides may be saved as images

·    Many types

·  Many

· Office drawing operations

· N/A

 

TIFF handling

TIFF is a container format that allows for multiple images to be stored, and a variety of compression algorithms. Not all TIFF viewers allow you to view beyond the first image in the file. Some such viewers may destroy unseen images if you save the file in that viewer.

 

Annotation

Each program with such features has a different set of features, and there is basically no interoperation between them. Annotations must be saved into the background image (ie destructive change to the image) in order for the “annotations” to be visible in another of the programs.

 

FPX/MIX

Flashpix format was a co-development of Microsoft with Kodak, Live Picture and HP. Microsoft’s only real support has been in its Picture It! / Digital Image Suite line, where it began as the default save format, and over time lost out to PNG. Office has offered import filters, but basically MS has left many users high and dry by omitting basic support for this format in their premier software, even if only to allow them to view these files and convert them to something more mainstream. You may find that Explorer can display the file thumbnail when the folder is in thumbnail view (as this is stored inside the file). If you don’t have Picture It! or Digital Image Suite (or other Microsoft nom-du-jour) then a third-party program

 

Insert Picture

Most of the programs that support multi-page image formats such as TIFF or JNT, also allow insertion of external image files. While this is similar to inserting pictures into a Word document, the nature of image files is that inserting a picture (or annotation) and saving the file, means covering a section of the image and destroying that piece of data. Only compound files like MIX or JNT (or Office Documents) allow “layers” so that annotations or inserted images do not permanently obscure content.

 

Import/Export vs Open/Save

An imported file is converted to the default format of the program.

An exported file is saved to a different format than the file was opened in. A program may not be able to open/import a file that it has exported.

 

Open/Save are used where a program understands how to work directly with a file-type and can save any changes without loss to that file format. So for example, when Microsoft Word opens a text file, it is strictly speaking, performing an import. When it saves to a text file, it notifies the user that many changes may be lost in the process (so this is an export).

 

Windows Journal can open TIFF files, and you may edit these, but the changed file cannot be saved back to TIFF (except by exporting to B&W TIFF). Windows Journal can export/save a document to MHT format, but it cannot open MHT files. While these are not optimal scenarios, there are generally very good reasons for these limitations. For instance, Journal knows enough to be able to spit out documents as a series of images, loosely bound with some script code to display a page-based view of these images. This is saved out as an MHT (HTML archive) file. This is the extent of Journal’s knowledge of that “language”: it knows how to ask for coffee and get to the airport, but it can’t understand the infinitely rich descriptive power of HTML to render any MHT file. Even writing file parse code to see if the MHT file was of the right limited type (ie coffee/airport instructions) is not particularly valuable.

 

Slide Shows

 

Windows XP offers a slide-show task in folders containing pictures.

WMP v10 has a slide-show.

 

Bugs/Issues

 

MOPM

  • Won’t allow you to view hidden/system files even if they are viewable in Explorer. Very annoying when trying to look at Album thumbnails!

 

MODI 2003

  • After saving a file with a new name, the taskbar icon is not updated.
  • If you select multiple page thumbnails and apply the rotate command, some pages may not be rotated, and selection may be lost for those pages.
  • If you change the file compression settings and save the file, those settings are not honoured unless each page is “dirtied” e.g. you can rotate each page one turn and then back. (KB article: )
  • Sometimes lose the mouse/pen cursor visibility.
  • Using default OCR language may yield gibberish. Recommend setting this explicitly.
  • Cleaning up multi-page TIFFs is a laborious process. Once I’ve scanned a document via MODI and exhausted its limited clean-up features, I go through the following process:
    • Open the file in Paint Shop Pro (from www.jasc.com), which splits the TIFF into a file per page.
    • Clean up the file as necessary (e.g. centre the text, use image filters to clean up)
    • Save the files.
    • To put them back together again, I have to open each file in MODI and then drag the pages into a single file again. Unfortunately, you can’t directly drop in TIFF or other image files from Explorer, as say Acrobat allows you to do when assembling a PDF from page images.
  • File thumbnails are not generated for files saved with Microsoft’s own image codecs.

Windows XP

  • Image previews shown in the Explorer task pane look moth-eaten if the image has transparent elements.

 

Windows Journal

  • File thumbnail support in Explorer requires a special power-toy. I think this only works on Tablet PCs, so it doesn’t help those who save their JNT files on a server or desktop.

 






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