1999.01.05 09:00 "Re: Opening to page "x" in a multi-page TIFF file?", by Michel Plungjan
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.
I am not affiliated with adobe, but I do not agree.
Platforms currently supported by adobe:
Macintosh (I do not know which Macs)
Sun SPARC SunOS
Sun SPARC Solaris
There is an unsupported DOS version too.
Adobe Acrobat ran on my 386 dx2 with 4MB but of course not with huge pdf files - same for huge tiff files with 'normal' tiff viewer.
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.
PDF is neither very large not complex when the pages are just stored directly with the image data in the original format.
If the image data contents of the PDF file is compressed, f.ex. CCITT4 there will be a tiny size difference between PDF and 'native' tiff also using CCITT4 - the difference is the cross reference and such, we are talking a max of a few hundered bytes for simple files and perhaps a few k for complex (read many pages). If thumbnails are stored, the size will differ though...
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.
Are you using Amiga or so?
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 DocView software (which BTW you should check out if you want to manage a collection of TIFF scanned documents).
I did not say not to STORE the images in tiff format, just that PDF was a viable format if one needed to view a specific page in a multipage document.
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):
And neither will any of the viewers if the tiff file is big.
- NIH DocView
- Infothek DocView (http://www.informatik.com/) -- 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 (http://www.optipat.com/)
- castiff (http://www.cas.org/)
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 (http://www.cas.org/)
For UNIX/NetBSD etc. (Acrobat Reader probably not available):
- ImageMagick (http://www.wizards.dupont.com/cristy/ImageMagick.html)
- xv (http://www.trilon.com/xv/xv.html)
(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 browsers.
All plugins run on same platform as acrobat but acobat is available (free) for more platforms.
This combined with the better support and the fact that it is in effect the same program on all platforms supported and also that acrobat prints on most platforms makes acrobat a far better choice as a plugin.
Also with optimising, pdf can be streamed off the web.
A good browser solution would in my opinion be a java based viewer downloaded when needed - too bad that the one available that CAN print only prints in Netscape 4.06+ (due to needed java 1.1 support)
Java Applet Tiff viewers (not free) can be had at
I did not test that one, thanks for the link
These are all windows only plugins, though...
-- Mark Knibbs
Just to recap: I do not necessarily think that storing scanned images in PDF format is the way to go. CCITT G4 tiff is an ok format and from there it can be converted to whatever format deemed necessary.
For viewing, however, I find the available tiff viewers often lacking in G4 support and 300 dpi images are often decompressed to a silly 3K*2K pixels screen waster. A gif needs to be decompressed and resized to 72 dpi to be managable. So far I have not found any one viewer available for most platforms with printing and good page navigation beside acrobat. I have tested tens of plugins and applets and I keep preferring acrobat.
PS: The stated opinions are my own.