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January 1999

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1999.01.04 16:40 "Re: Opening to page "x" in a multi-page TIFF file?", by Mark Knibbs
1999.01.04 18:53 "Re: Opening to page "x" in a multi-page TIFF file?", by John Aldridge
1999.01.05 09:00 "Re: Opening to page "x" in a multi-page TIFF file?", by Michel Plungjan
1999.01.05 17:10 "Re: Opening to page "x" in a multi-page TIFF file?", by Mark Knibbs
1999.01.06 08:43 "Re: Opening to page "x" in a multi-page TIFF file?", by Michel Plungjan

1999.01.04 16:40 "Re: Opening to page "x" in a multi-page TIFF file?", by Mark Knibbs

On 04-Jan-99, Michel Plungjan wrote:
> You might want to convert the pages to pdf since Acrobat Reader supports
> opening on a specific page - even opening to a specific view (zoom level and
> such)
> Also PDF supports most common data formats found inside tiff files (such as
> ccitt g4) so normally decompression is not needed to convert to pdf.
> If for any reason you want to publish these on the web, Acrobat Reader is one
> of the few viewers available on most platforms.

IMO using PDF for scanned documents is a really bad idea, for several reasons.

The P in PDF supposedly stands for portable, but could be more accurate if it
stood for proprietary. The main problem with using PDF as a file format for
scanned documents is that users who do not use a platform for which Adobe
provide Acrobat Reader are unable to view the document.

PDF certainly has its uses, but for scanned -- as opposed to structured --
documents, it is unnecessary overkill.

PDF is a very large, complex file format, meaning that PDF viewers are
necessarily large and resource-hungry. Freely-available third-party viewers
like Ghostscript and xpdf can not cope with all PDF files. Only relatively
modern computers can run PDF viewers at all.

Contrast this with bitmap image file formats; if a viewer supports GIF or TIFF
G4 (say), then it *will* display images using that file format.

For example, there is no Acrobat Reader for the OS I use. Ghostscript (free
PostScript/PDF interpreter) does exist for it. I recently downloaded a large
scanned document in PDF format from a web page. Sadly Ghostscript chokes on
this file, and so I cannot view it.

TIFF G4 is a standard format, and free viewers exist for almost all platforms
-- if not, free source is available in the libtiff package to convert to other
file formats. TIFF G4 is widely used in document imaging applications; for
example the US Patent Office use this file format. Thus TIFF G4 files are
easily integrated into document management systems such as the free NIH
software (which BTW you should check out if you want to manage a collection of
TIFF scanned documents).

Moreover, using a "pure" image file format rather than PDF allows the user to
use an image-processing or printing program, and their own choice of viewing
software. Apparently some printers can accept TIFF files directly, so printing
may just be a matter of copying the TIFF file to a printer.

Here are some examples of free TIFF image viewers. Let me know if you want URLs
for any of these. Most or all of these support multi-page TIFF files. There are
probably lots more viewers which I do not know of.

For Windows 3.x/95/98/NT (Acrobat Reader may not run on low-end machines):
- NIH DocView
- Infothek DocView ( -- this uses greyscales to
  antialias when viewing at less than 100% scale. Even at 25% on a 640x480
  screen, text of US Patent documents is legible, with the full printed width
  visible at once.
- OptiView (
- castiff (

For Windows 95/98/NT:
- Wang/Kodak's Imaging software comes with Windows 95/98/NT. You can use this
  to scan documents into TIFF G4 files, as well as to view TIFF G4 files.

For Macintosh (Acrobat Reader will not run on low-end machines):
- GraphicConverter can view, print and convert to other file formats
- castiff (

For UNIX/NetBSD etc. (Acrobat Reader probably not available):
- ImageMagick (
- xv (
(both these programs use libtiff)

For Amiga (Acrobat Reader not available):
- SViewII can convert to IFF-ILBM, a common file format on the Amiga
- Studio Professional (commercial) can print.

There are several free TIFF browser plugins for Netscape and IE, so viewing
TIFF images from within a web browser is no more difficult than installing the
Acrobat Reader plugin. I did a web search for free TIFF plugins, and there are
quite a few. Maybe it would be a good idea to include links to these on web
pages containing TIFF files, for people with "mainstream" computers and

-- Mark Knibbs