Questioning the Future of JPEG2000 Support in Photoshop

John Nack, Senior Product Manager for Adobe Photoshop, posted a query recently to his blog seeking customer reactions to the possibility of removing JPEG2000 support from Photoshop:

Adobe developed the plug-in in anticipation of cameras entering the market with native JPEG 2000 support on board. The thing is, that hasn’t happened, nor have we seen other widespread adoption of the format in places we know Photoshop is being used. […] As we plan for the future, we need to retire features that no longer make sense & focus instead on capabilities that matter. So, do you use JPEG 2000? If so, please give a shout and let us know how & why you use it.

The response has been discouraging (from a JPEG2000 advocate’s point-of-view). I did a back-of-the-envelope tally (literally) of the comments received to 2:45 EDT today, and with a certain amount of parsing ambiguity from the comment authors and judgments on my part, this is how it stacks up.

  • Number of commenters who use JPEG2000 in Photoshop: 4
  • Number of commenters who don’t: 22
  • Number who would use it if it was [ more widely supported / used throughout Adobe’s product lines / etc. ]: 12
  • Number who wouldn’t: 11

(Some of the “Don’ts” did not say whether they would or not if certain conditions were met, but since it wasn’t explicitly stated, those individuals are not included in that column of the tally.)

There still seems to be some F.U.D. surrounding JPEG2000, particularly in light of Microsoft’s recent (and in my opinion, F.U.D.-enhancing) announcement of the HDPhoto format. Some have jumped on it (presuming, I suppose, that if Microsoft is behind it that it has a solid future — the “no one gets fired for buying IBM philosophy” I suppose). One commenter said “No [camera manufacturer] would [use JPEG2000], why? Possibly because of a $10 royalty, but more likely because not everything can read it.” I’m not sure who a manufacturer would pay $10 to since JPEG2000 Part 1 is an open standard from ISO and it was the committee’s intention to make Part 1 license-free and royalty-free (“JPEG 2000 was developed with the intention that Part 1 could be implemented without the payment of licence fees or royalties, and a number of patent holders have waived their rights toward this end.”1 ). But this commenter and others bring up the valid point of lack of adoption in web toolkits/browsers, e-mail programs, and the like — that is a hard chicken-and-egg problem to crack.

Would you miss JPEG2000 if support for it was dropped in Photoshop? I would (why? read my post about JPEG2000 for digital image preservation), and it seem such a shame to have lost the photography market with Photoshop when JPEG2000 use is clearly picking up in the medical imaging and the motion picture fields.

[Update 2007-04-06T21:34 — It appears that there may have been a catastrophic failure of John Mack’s blog. The contents have reverted to late March 2007. This PDF is a printout from the Yahoo Cache of the JPEG 2000 posting from his blog.]

[Update 20070412T1526 — The original blog posting seems to be up again, so one does not need the Yahoo! cached copy above. I strongly suggest taking a look at Mike Serafino’s (from Aware, Inc.) comment and Ron Murray’s (from the Library of Congress) comment to Jack Nack’s original JPEG2000-in-Photoshop posting. Both make a strong argument for the continued support of JPEG2000 in Adobe products.]

The text was modified to update a link from http://www.iso.ch/iso/en/CatalogueDetailPage.CatalogueDetail?CSNUMBER=37674 to http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=37674 on November 13th, 2012.

Footnotes

  1. Quote from http://www.jpeg.org/jpeg2000/j2kpart1.html on the JPEG2000 committee website []
(This post was updated on 13-Nov-2012.)