# Big Trouble in Little Endian

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Exif is a body of specifications related to the embedding of metadata inside images. (Interestingly enough, when embedded inside a JPEG it uses a structure based on TIFF, making for a well-formed TIFF within a JPEG.) One of the features, for better or for worse, is that Exif can be stored either big- or little-endian. It is the responsibility of the input code to detect which mode the incoming Exif is in, and to interpret ensuing values correctly.

The start of the Exif data block will always be a 16-bit value. How it is interpreted will determine if the ensuing data is big- or little-endian:

While Binspector handles endianness in atoms, the last thing I wanted to do was double-specify the format, one for each endian option. What I wanted was to be able to predicate the endianness of an atom in an expression, not just a keyword (big v. little), and to have that expression take file data into consideration in the process (header == 0x4d4d). So let it be done:

The advantage of the enumerate construct above is that if header is neither of the two expected values, the analysis will fail. With the typedef operation, we can add a little syntactic sugar to make subsequent atoms even more readable:

ifd_t will inherit typedefs declared in its ancestry, which means it (and its substructures) can take advantage of word_t, long_t, etc. The endian handling is limited to the top-level tiff_t structure, and everything it contains is as readable as if endianness was never an issue in the first place.