Don’t Let Endianness Flip You Around

Most of the processor architectures which we come into contact with today are little-endian systems, meaning that they store and address bytes in a least-significant byte (LSB) order. Unlike in the past, when big-endian architectures, including the Motorola 68000 and PowerPC, were more common, one can often just assume that all of the binary data one reads from files and via communication protocols are in little-endian order. This will often work fine.

The problem comes with for example image formats that use big-endian formatted integers, including TIFF and PNG. When dealing directly with protocols in so-called ‘network order’, one also deals with big-endian data. Trying to use these formats and protocol data verbatim on a little-endian system will obviously not work.

Fortunately, it is very easy to swap the endianness of any data which we handle. Continue reading “Don’t Let Endianness Flip You Around”