3M Printscape

There are some file formats out there which are confusing. One such file came across my desk awhile back. This file was not identifiable with any tools I threw at it. At first I believed it to be a TIFF file variant.

You can see the TIFF header, but would not open as one, even if the extension was changed from PSC to TIF. The other hint was the phrase “3M Printscape”, I had never heard of it and there wasn’t much information available about it. It seems it was a creative product made by 3M in the early 2000’s. You could buy a package of printable cards, gift bags, etc. The problem was, there was no available software to be found. I searched on the Internet Archive, the Wayback Machine, and many other abandoned software sites. For months I searched, it wasn’t until a year later I came across one of the creative packages at thrift store. I was thrilled. That is until I was able to get the software installed.

After I installed the software in a virtual machine running Windows 98 I tried to open the PSC file but the software was looking for files with the extension STD, which is an unfortunate acronym. Turns out it stands for SureThing Document. SureThing is a software company who develops Label software. After many months of searching I thought I had found the software to render my file, but it was not meant to be.

Many months later I decided to do some more searches. That is when another copy of 3M Printscape showed up in the Internet Archive. 3M Printscape 2.0! It appears 3M decided to design their own software for version 2.0.

The preservation value of the above image is not lost on me. What took me over a year to figure out ended up being a simple pixelated image of a cardinal. Its the journey, not the destination?

From this little adventure I was able to submit two file formats to PRONOM, fmt/1275fmt/1276. Also I documented the formats and linked to the software on the File Format Wiki. The 3M Printscape version 2 was also released for Macintosh, so the signature had to account for endianness, just like a TIFF file would. With the format having the string “3M Printscape” in the header, it made for an easy signature.

Hopefully, I will be the last to spend this much time on an image of a bird.