What is XMP?


XMP is an acronym for "Extensible Metadata Platform". XMP defines a standard, uniform way for applications to describe and store the metadata of files. Based on XML, XMP is designed specifically for describing files that is easily parsed, understood, and written by a wide variety of software applications. XMP was invented by Adobe and started shipping with Adobe products in mid 2001. Today, all Adobe products mark the files they create with XMP metadata, and many other applications can freely read this data.

Today, the file format most closely associated with XMP is the jpeg photo file format. This is partly because photographs have a relatively high amount of metadata stored about them, and partly because Photoshop, Abode's popular image editing software, stores is metadata in XMP format (like all other Abode products). Other popular software products, such as Microsoft's Vista operating system, directly support the reading and writing of XMP metadata. Examples of photo metadata include the date and time that a photo was taken, the shutter speed and aperture of the camera, and whether or not the flash was fired. Additionally, once the photo is stored on the computer, the user can tag the photo with the names of the people appearing in the photo, and give the photo a rating. Programs such as F-Spot make adding this data easy, and also aid the user in retrieving specific photos based upon this data.

It must be noted that XMP is a specification, not a standard. That is because the body that governs the development of XMP is not a standards body, rather a for-profit corporation. Thus, XMP can be changed at any time, and backwards compatibility is not guaranteed. However, the widespread adoption of XMP and the strong reputation of Adobe are seen as assurance, if not insurance, that XMP can safely be used and that the metadata stored in XMP will be retrievable by future software.

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