The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is a set of image and metadata retrieval specifications created by an international community of cultural heritage institutions and open-source software companies. The first decades of digitization at libraries and museums have produced an archipelago of isolated digital collections built around bespoke software. IIIF aims to change this fragmented landscape with a set of shared standards and tools. At the heart of IIIF are a set of application programming interfaces, or APIs, which together make it possible to, among other things:

  • load digitized items into a variety of IIIF viewers for comparison, annotation, searching and deep zoom
  • easily cite, share and embed images without losing institutional control
  • display complex digital objects, such as newspaper archives or reconstructed manuscripts
  • work seamlessly with images from across the growing community of IIIF adopters.

The vocabulary of IIIF

The Digital Manuscripts Toolkit works with IIIF images and metadata. The basic elements are:

  • manifest: a JSON-LD document that specifies the images and descriptive information that make up a digitized object
  • image URI: an HTTP or HTTPS request that returns an image from a IIIF endpoint, with parameters to modify region, size, rotation, quality and format
  • canvas: a virtual container onto which image URIs are painted, analogous to a Photoshop canvas
  • sequence: an element of a manifest that specifies the order in which canvases are presented.