libics v.1.5 Online Documentation. ©2000-2010 by Cris Luengo and others.

libics v.1.5
Image Cytometry Standard file reading and writing.

This is the reference library for ICS (Image Cytometry Standard), an open standard for writing images of any dimensionality and data type to file, together with associated information regarding the recording equipment or recorded subject.

ICS version 1.0 and 2.0

ICS stands for Image Cytometry Standard, and was first proposed in:

P. Dean, L. Mascio, D. Ow, D. Sudar, J. Mullikin, "Propsed standard for image cytometry data files", Cytometry, n.11, pp.561-569, 1990. [DOI] [PubMed]

It writes 2 files, one is the header, with an '.ics' extension, and the other is the actual image data (with an '.ids' extension).

ICS version 2.0 extends this standard to allow for a more versatile placement of the image data. It can now be placed either in the same '.ics' file or inbedded in any other file, by specifying the file name and the byte offset for the data.

The advantage of ICS over other open standards such as TIFF is that it allows data of any type and dimensionality to be stored. A TIFF file can contain a collection of 2D images; it's up to the user to determine how these relate to each other. An ICS file can contain, for exmaple, a 5D image in which the 4th dimension is the light frequency and the 5th time. Also, all of the information regarding the microscope settings (or whatever instument was used to acquire the image) and the sample preparation can be included in the file.


The libics library is currently maintained by Scientific Volume Imaging. You can mail comments, bugs and feature requests to libics(at)


This library is distributed under the GNU LESSER GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE (formerly the GNU Library Public License), version 2.1. This means you can use it for whatever purpose, commercial or not, open or not. However, if you re-distribute the sources in any form whatsoever you need to include the original copyright statement. And if you change anything you need to mention this too.

This also means that none of the people involved in this project can be held responsible for anything that goes wrong while you use this software. You use it at your own risk.