Today I had the first milestone meeting with the folks of Hallo Welt about the TIFF support they are implementing for MediaWiki. This is one of the projects Wikimedia Germany was offering contracts for a while back. Now we are starting to see the first results, cool!
So, what will full TIFF support give us? Nothing spectacular, but something quite useful. TIFF is an image format widely used by museums and in scientific research. It’s also the de-facto standard used in print/reproduction. It is however rarely seen on the web, and browsers generally are not able to display TIFF images. However, the need to deal with TIFF files has increased lately, as we get more and more media from museums and archives. Especially for the people who work on image restauration, it is important to be able to have the original digital version of the image around – which is usually a TIFF file. So, TIFF uploads had been enabled on Commons a few months ago. But MediWiki can’t render them, and nither can browsers. They can’t be used as images on the wiki.
So, what Hallo Welt is doing now is implementing rendering support for TIFF files – which is not so easy, because TIFF files may contain multiple images or pages, similar to PDF files, or the DjVu files we use to represent scanned books. But the project is coming along pretty well, and it looks like it will bring some small improvements also to the existing support for PDF and DjVu files. We are also experimenting with automatic user interface testing using the Selenium framework. If this works out well, we may well use it for more things on MediaWiki in the future.
The project is scheduled to be completed in November, and I hope we will be testing it on the live sites soon after. So, look out for more pretty pictures!