An Open Letter to Apple: Please make the equivalent of Quicktime for Images
Quicktime is one of those things that people love or hate. Whatever your feelings on it are, it does do one thing really well, and that provides a way of allowing any application to open any movie file, so long as they have the right codec installed. Instead of an application having to directly support multiple video formats, they can just support QuickTime, and then if there’s a codec for the format installed, they can read that format. Which got me thinking, we really need something similar for images.
While there is obviously a range of standard formats when it comes to images, such as Tiff, Jpeg and even PSD, with there rise of a new generation of image editors, we’re seeing a lot of new file formats that aren’t compatible with anything else. Take Affinity Photo for example or Pixelmator. Both of these applications have their own native format, which isn’t compatible with other applications. Which means that you need to export from these applications to use images in some other software. This is fine for straightforward editing, but it limits the usefulness of these programs with things like asset management software. You can’t import affinity photo native files into Photos for example.
A version of QuickTime for images would solve this. If you had a container format that developers could write codecs for, you could then make it much easier for applications like those listed above to be supported by image cataloguing software, other editors and so on. It would make it easier if you needed to use an image from one of these applications in a video application or a publishing application for example. It would make it much easier for independent application developers to break the Adobe monopoly on image editing. surely more competition like this would be a good thing.
The idea would be a universal file format, like Quicktime's .mov only for images, that application developers could support and write "codecs" for. This would allow support for an application's native features, such as layers etc, and any non-destructive elements. These individual features wouldn't necessarily have to be seen by third-party applications, but the file format would allow them to be kept intact, so that when the native application opened them back up they would still behave like a native format.
For example, say you created an image in Affinity photo, with layers, including adjustments and masks, and you wanted to use that in InDesign or some other application, but still keep it editable. You would save into this universal format would would keep all of the documents editibility intact (or most of it) and then allow you to import it into InDesign and still use the composited image. If you need to edit it, you can still open it back in Affinity Photo. To do this currently you would have to export it as a tiff, and then refer back to the original format, which is fine for many people, but having this interoperability, I think, would be a huge benifit to many.
Anyway, it’s just an idea. I’m no developer, so maybe there is something like this out there already, but if there is, why is it not better know and well used? So in the unlikely event that anyone from Apple is listening, please consider something along these lines for a future version of MacOS (and make it cross-platform while you’re at it).
Cover Image via Envato Elements
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