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Following livius'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 you’re 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! :sarcasticclap:). Some software does not seem to support comments at all (I'm looking at you, Fireworks :spank:).

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.


FAQ


  • 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 don’t 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 people’s 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 www.humpy.demon.co.uk/gifcom/g….  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.


References



Wikipedia's GIF entry en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gif

GRAPHICS INTERCHANGE FORMAT Version 89a www.w3.org/Graphics/GIF/spec-g…

A Programmer's Perspective on NTFS 2000: Stream and Hard Link msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/libr…
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:iconlazarus-d:
Lazarus-D Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2007  Professional General Artist
Very interesting and informative. I'm going to look into this. Thanks for posting!
Reply
:iconmynti:
mynti Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2007  Professional General Artist
Nice work, man. :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconmajnouna:
Majnouna Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007  Professional General Artist
Sounds remarkable, well done :thumbsup:
Reply
:icontsemalon:
tsemalon Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
I got a Q;
can you remove a comment?
as I clicked double on the add comment box -.-

im horrible with programs I didnt use before =P
Reply
:iconhumpy77:
humpy77 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007
Short answer is no, but it doesn't matter in this case. :)

Each time you click Add Comment the program will take a copy of the original GIF and add the comment to this copy, so the second click would just have replaced the first copy.

Just browse to the "commented" directory and you should see the new copy with only one set of you comments.
Reply
:icontsemalon:
tsemalon Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
well.. no. I see one gif file with two times the same comment
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:iconhumpy77:
humpy77 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007
I think you might be seeing the one comment displayed in two ways, once all on one line and once as separate lines. For example:

© Firstname Lastname / http://account.deviantart.com
|--- © Firstname Lastname
|--- http://account.deviantart.com


If you think there is another problem then send me a note and I'll investigate for you :0
Reply
:icontsemalon:
tsemalon Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
no, I dont.
I see

© Firstname Lastname / [link] with comment#1
© Firstname Lastname / [link] with comment#2

I got one file with 2 comments, so it would be nice if you could delete them again too, also if you accidentaly copyrighted something that isnt yours at all, but just happened to be saved in the file where all of the rest of work ís yours :shrug:
Reply
:iconhumpy77:
humpy77 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2007
Deleting comments is something I really don't want to try. Technically this can required rewritting the whole file and I didn't want to get into that level of editing. You can probably remove the comments by opening the GIF in your animation program then saving it again.

Also, because the program adds the comment to a new copy of the GIF (instead of editing the original file) you can always just delete the new copy from the "commented" directory.
Reply
:icontsemalon:
tsemalon Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks :w00t: I think you gave me enought ips now to solve the problem on my own, youve been a great help :hug:
*goes to fix all that as to be fixed*
Reply
:iconparliamentfunk:
parliamentFunk Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007
I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Are you gonna finish eating that?"

Wait, that's not it. I meant to say, "Good job, Steve. You're a genius!"

Yeah. That's the one.
Reply
:iconhumpy77:
humpy77 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007
And I'm not gonna tell you again, "Hands off my cookie!" :shakefist:
Reply
:iconparliamentfunk:
parliamentFunk Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007
No, kitty! My potpie!
Reply
:iconboffinbrain:
BoffinbraiN Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007  Professional Interface Designer
This article gets a full 5 ninja stars! :ninjastar:
Reply
:iconcmotes:
Cmotes Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007  Hobbyist
:giggle:
Reply
:iconftpaddict:
ftpaddict Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2007
:+favlove:
Reply
:iconmarker-guru:
Marker-Guru Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Brilliant!
Reply
:iconage2003:
Age2003 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2007  Professional Filmographer
Sweet :)
Reply
:iconduhcoolies:
duhcoolies Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2007  Professional General Artist
kewlness :D
Reply
:iconlivius:
livius Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2007
This is a great tool, not just for the creators, but also for people using emotes or avatars or whatever gifs with artist permission. If you want to be scrupulous both to credit the artists and to keep your inventory straight, sign their work for them.

Thank you for the detailed write-up, humpy, and for the software, of course. :clap:
Reply
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