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JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF)

1st edition, June 2009

This document specifies a file format, referred to as the JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF), for file-based interchange of images encoded according to the JPEG standard (ITU-T Recommendation T.81 | ISO/IEC 10918-1).

The JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF) was collaboratively developed by a group of computer, telecommunications, and imaging companies in the early 1990’s. Representing C-Cube Microsystems, Eric Hamilton led the development of the specification. He hosted a meeting in late 1991 toward developing a simple file format based on JPEG which would allow for the interchange of files containing JPEG bitstreams between platforms and applications. There were about 40 representatives from various computer, telecommunications, and imaging companies at the meeting. Subsequent specification development work was conducted using e-mail and telephone discussions. The effort reached consensus fairly quickly and led to publication of version 1.0 of the JFIF specification, which had been edited by Eric Hamilton and which he distributed to the participants and to other interested parties.

Shortly thereafter, the group came to the conclusion that the spatial sampling relationship of components specified in JFIF 1.0 was not ideal since it followed digital video conventions rather than those used in common computer formats such as Postscript and QuickTime. They chose to publish another version, JFIF 1.01, which changed that part of the specification to follow the computer format convention. This was deemed to be a minor change since JFIF 1.0 had been circulated for only a short while and decoders which ignored the version number would still render similar images. The Independent JPEG Group (IJG) adopted JFIF version 1.01 for use in its public domain software, which eventually led to millions of images being published in this format. Later in 1992, user feedback led to the final version of JFIF, version 1.02, which supported additional thumbnail formats – most importantly including thumbnails stored in compressed format.

The JFIF Version 1.02 specification became available in a de facto manner in the public domain, and it has been implemented widely, to the extent that it became widely recognized as a de facto standard.

The desire to convert JFIF Version 1.02 to a formal publication status has been a topic of various discussions since its development, but no action was taken on that subject until preparation of this specification. The rationale for this Ecma International Technical Report is therefore to formally document JFIF Version 1.02 in a technically identical Ecma International Technical Report.

By preparing this specification, Ecma International acknowledges and applauds the excellent work that Eric Hamilton and the JFIF group did when creating the JFIF specification, and expresses its gratitude to the supporting organizations, including in particular C-Cube Microsystems (now LSI Logic) and the other companies that have participated in the original JFIF work.

Ecma International also expresses its sincere gratitude to Eric Hamilton for his valuable help in editing this specification.

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Technical CommitteeTC46