's Firefox and Emote Rips
journal and Smiley Xtra Add-on to Credit Artists
news article and the comments that they generated, I had a quick look at how many of our emote GIFs were actually signed. Out of about 400 I checked only two had a comment that named the author.
First a quick bit of history: There are actually two published GIF standards, 87a and 89a. The 89a standard introduced the multiple image handling that is needed for animated GIFs, plus support for a number of other features including text comments. These comment blocks are not part of the displayed data, they are intended for information only. A GIF file can contain any number of comment blocks with each block holding up to 255 characters. Note that the Properties/Summary information displayed by some versions of MS Windows does not generally
have anything to do with the actual file. On an NTFS formatted device Windows stores this information in a separate data stream; if the file is moved to a non-NTFS device then this information is lost.
To view a GIF file's comments you need to use image editing software (or a HEX editor if youre feeling brave). A bit more digging and downloading of evaluations revealed that most of the software we use to create GIFs will by default strip out any comments as part of an "optimisation" process (reducing the file size by a few dozen bytes, Whoo!
). Some software does not seem to support comments at all (I'm looking at you, Fireworks
Now, adding your name as a comment in a GIF is not a secure way of claiming ownership but it does provide a means of identifying files that have been casually ripped. What was missing was a way of quickly adding a comment to existing GIFs and the ability to easily view the comments on a number of GIFs.
Yet more poking about on t'internet revealed that the GIF format is reasonably simple, so a bit of keyboard bashing has resulted in GIF Comment
, an application that will let you view and add comments to GIF files, so you can sign your emotes before uploading them.
- What platforms does this program run on?
Windows only. The program has been tested on Windows NT4, 2000 and XP. I may investigate doing builds for different platforms but not for a while so dont hold your breath.
- Will the program keep the existing comments in a GIF file?
Yes. I did not want to write something that could be used to remove comments from a GIF. The existing comments are retained and the new comments are added to the end of the file.
- I spent ages getting my GIFs optimised. Will this program ruin all that?
Definetely not. The GIFcom program does not edit the GIF image data blocks, it just adds the new comment to the end of the file.
- Will these comments be kept when you update an animation?
If you update a GIF then the editing program will probably strip out the comments. I had a quick look at registering a new Application Extension with the standards authority so I could add a new comment format, but none of the applications I tested respected other peoples extensions. Basically I think that the editors read the GIF into their own internal structure so what gets written out will only contain what they recognise.
- Can this program corrupt my GIF files?
Never. The program adds the comment to a copy of your GIF in a sub-directory. Your original GIF is never edited.
- How can someone view these comments without the GIFcom program?
Many image editing applications will view comments in GIF files, or you could use a HEX editor. Unfortunately I've not seen an OS or browser that will view GIF comments.
- Will this program work for all my artwork?
'Fraid not. I was after something we could specifically use for emotes and that means GIF89a (and yes, I know that some people use JPEG and PNG for static emotes; most are still using GIF).
You can download the application from [link]
. I did look into building an installation wrapper but that would have increased the download from 50Kb to 3Mb. The zip contains the executable, a help file, an example GIF and a list of fixes and edits. Just extract the files to a suitable location and run the executable.
The help file explains how to use the program. The quick guide is:
- browse to the directory with your new GIF
- enter your dA account name
- mark your GIF
- push the Add Comment button
- open the "commented" directory
- admire your comments
Let me know here
if you find any problems or if you have any suggestions.
Wikipedia's GIF entry [link]
GRAPHICS INTERCHANGE FORMAT Version 89a [link]
A Programmer's Perspective on NTFS 2000: Stream and Hard Link [link]