This book is primarily for graphics programmers, but it's also for application programmers who need to become graphics programmers (if only for a little while). Although we didn't anticipate, in the first edition, that the book would be useful to graphics illustrators, we found that it was. In this second edition of the book and the CD-ROM, we've tried to provide additional resources for this audience. The book is also for anyone who needs a quick way to identify a graphics file of unknown origin. If you're not a graphics programmer, but want to get up to speed quickly, you'll find that Part One of the book requires little prior knowledge of computer graphics. It will help you become familiar with concepts associated with the storage of graphics data. In fact, a working knowledge of a programming language is useful, but not absolutely essential, if you're only looking for the big picture.
If you just want some background on graphics file formats, you might want to read Part One and refer, as needed, to the articles in Part Two and the appendices in Part Three. If you're in search of implementation guidance, you will want to refer to the articles and example code. Of course if you're a computer graphics professional, you might be interested primarily in the specification documents and tools on the CD-ROM.
In the unlikely event that you are creating your own new graphics file format, we fervently hope that this book provides you with some perspective on your task, if only by exhibiting the decisions--good and bad--that are frozen in the formats described in these pages.