Update: The extension’s creators have emailed us with some corrections, which have been applied throughout the post. See bottom for details.
RAW image files are wonderful in almost every regard. The problem is, viewing them requires software capable of reading the various formats RAW images take, none of which are easily accessible to the masses and all of which are tied to an application. But a new Google Chrome extension by FilePreviews.io is changing all that.
Built around an API that’s meant to preview even the most incompatible of browser-ready formats, the extension works through a little clever trickery. By right-clicking a link to a RAW file and selecting “Preview from FilePreviews.io,” the extension will open up a new tab, showing you the RAW image without ever leaving your browser.
The extension is offered as a free download, but despite its uniqueness and lack of monetary barrier, it isn’t without flaws. While there isn’t much word on the actual limitations of the extension,
the file size limit for RAW files seems to be 10MB — about half the size of a standard RAW file nowadays.
Not only is the file size limited right now, but as The Phoblographer points out,
this extension doesn’t work in Dropbox, the place where such an extension would be most useful.
But despite its few quirks, it shows promise for the potential integration of RAW image viewing capabilities into future browser iterations. Maybe one day, far off, we’ll be able to store our entire photo archive in the cloud and have fast enough connections to use the browser as we do Adobe Lightroom or Bridge. In the meantime, we’ll appreciate the small steps, like FilePreviews.io, which are helping us get there.
(via The Phoblographer)
Update: After the post went live, the founders emailed us with a couple of important clarifications. First, the 10MB limit only applies to the website. The extension allows you to preview files of any size. And second, there is in fact a Dropbox workaround, which is demonstrated in the video below: