Over the years there has been a growing set of standard file formats in the computing world. Once computer networking and the Internet became mainstream, many of these formats became standards for content delivery. As time progresses, new technologies and new needs combine to drive towards new ways of doing things. Now, one of the latest incarnations comes from industry and web giant Google. Where does is fit and compare to today’s already established standards?
Let us go back in time for the moment. In regards to graphics standards, there are quite a few, however, there are really two that are very popular and stand out above the rest.
Many remember the name CompuServe, while others scratch their heads. CompuServe, one of the industry’s leading online access and content providers in the early days of dial-up networking and Internet access, introduced the GIF in 1987. Standing for Graphics Interchange Format, the GIF was put in place for standard portability; way for images to shared and transferred easily. While the GIF has its strengths such as small file sizes due to compression, the GIF is only an 8 bit image. Consisting of only a palette of 256 colors, the GIF finds itself useful for logos and simple images, yet by today’s standards, the GIF’s technology is nowhere near acceptable for photo use.
The Joint Photographic Experts Group was established in 1986, around the same time CompuServe was promoting and pushing its GIF technology as a standard. While the standard for JPG (JPEG) didn’t really come into play until 1992, the technology found itself to be a powerful alternative to the GIF format as it supported more than 8 bits to an image, and used different compression methods include lossy. More than suitable for photos, JPG allows for a balance between compression rate and image size, with an overall result placing effect on image quality.
Google’s WebP, follows more in the path of JPG than GIF. Naturally hi-resolution with high bit rates allow for more colors and crisper images. Differing for the GIF, JG and even another standard PNG, WebP is reportedly able to reduce image size up to 40% without noticeable image quality loss. Google is basing the need for WebP as an alternative due to the fact that today’s standard image formats have not changed, while the way society uses the Internet has. A reduction in storage needs and bandwidth would make WebP an appealing option. Google is currently in talks with browser developers for support of WebP and its sister technology for video WebM.Sources/Resources:
Geek.com: Google Announces WebP image compression format to lighten JPEG’s load up to 40%