Google WebP to crush JPEG, GIF, and PNG?

By Richi Jennings. October 1, 2010 (rabbits; white rabbits).

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Google is promoting a new image format, aimed at overthrowing the venerable JPEG, GIF, and PNG. Naturally, WebP is faster, and it's open source. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers squint at their pixels.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention who'd want to be a web designer?..


Cade Metz met Weppy:

Google has open sourced a new "lossy" image format known as WebP ... claiming it can cut the size of current web images by almost 40 per cent. ... Google has tested the format by re-encoding 1,000,000 existing web images ... and it saw a 39 per cent reduction in average file size.


WebP is derived from VP8, the video codec Google acquired with its purchase of On2 Technologies ... [which it] open sourced as part of the new WebM format. ... [Like] VP8 encodes video key frames, WebP using predictive coding ... using the values in neighboring blocks ... encodes only the difference between the actual value and the prediction. The difference ... typically contains many zeros, which can be compressed more effectively.

  Stephen Shankland adds:

WebP, like JPEG, lets its users trade off image quality for file size. ... It's a "lossy" format, meaning it doesn't perfectly reproduce an original image but tries to keep as true to the original as possible when viewed by the human eye.


Google's doing the same thing with other Web technologies, for example ... the SPDY protocol to speed interactions with Web servers, and the Native Client software to run downloadable software at native rather than JavaScript speeds.

  Google's Richard Rabbat rabbits on:

As part of Google’s initiative to make the web faster ... we have released a number of tools to help site owners speed up their websites. ... [But] we continue to notice a single component of web pages is ... responsible for ... latency on pages across the web: images.


Images and photos make up about 65% of the bytes transmitted per web page. ... They can significantly slow down a user’s web experience, especially on ... a mobile network. ... We have shared a selection of ... images along with file sizes so you can visually compare them on this site.

  Devin Coldewey explains why Google may succeed where other have failed:

There is also the argument that this will simply not catch on ... browsers, apps, and scripts today aren’t even savvy with existing ... alternative image formats: ... like PNG ... JPEG XR and JPEG 2000. ... There are surely complicated licensing agreements and loyalties in place.


What Google wants is a standard we can all agree on that’s free to use and easy to implement or layer on top of existing setups. ... It takes someone ambitious and proactive to attempt [this]. ... Google loves talking about openness, and by the time others decide it’s important enough to care about, Google will have a product in place.


It may sound like merely replacing one cog with another, but it’s the cogs we use the most that most deserve replacement.

  1001NoisyCameras offers a photographer's view:

This could mean your galleries and portfolio pages can load up a lot faster ... could mean visitors may spend more time browsing your work.


If this catches on, services such as flickr would probably be able to automatically offer this feature, but if you are managing your site/gallery/blog yourself, you will probably have to do the conversions and web-editing on your own ... you can do this strategically, such as the home page first.


And Finally...

Why you don't like changes to your design

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Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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