We’re in the process of upgrading Wikimedia sites to the about-to-be-released MediaWiki 1.18. So what’s actually new in it?
One of my favorite little improvements is automatic EXIF orientation support for images. Lots of digital cameras and mobile phones handle portrait-mode photographs by saving them as if they were in landscape mode, and marking the file with an orientation tag based on accelerometer data in the device (“oh you were holding the camera sideways? I knew that!”)
Bryan Tong-Minh did most of the work on this a few months ago, and I made a few tweaks recently to make it work a little more consistently. But what does it mean in practice?
Let’s try an example — I took a portrait photo of my coffee mug (mmmm) using my Canon PowerShot and uploaded it to test2.wikipedia.org.
If you load up the raw original image in your browser you’ll find that it looks sideways like this:
Poop! Nobody wants sideways coffee, it’ll just spill all over that shiny laptop.
It used to be that your image would end up looking like this when you uploaded it directly into MediaWiki, but no more!
Now whenever MediaWiki deals with it, it’s automatically rotated to its proper orientation, just like if you loaded it into Gimp or Shotwell (or Photoshop or iPhoto, if you swing that way!)
When this support goes live on Wikimedia Commons, it’ll be a nice help for people uploading camera-original images, as it will no longer be necessary to manually fix the rotation of your photos. (If you’ve edited the photo, _usually_ the rotation gets fixed then.)
Particularly when we look into the near-to-medium future with things like direct photo upload support from mobile devices, and more on-web editing, we can expect to see a lot more camera-original photos going into the system.