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Site Graphics and Multimedia Design Forum

PNG format graphics

 8:14 pm on Feb 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've been what seems like forever for the PNG format to really take hold on the web. It looks like the best thing ever, but nothing practical ever seems to happen. The PNG format offers lossless compression, embedded gamma control, and percentage transparency.

The PNG website [libpng.org] says that even Netscape 6 and PhotoShop 5.5 offer only weak support (no mention of PhotoShop 6). The best mainstream support seems to be from the MSIE Macintosh browser.

Anyone else watching this development? Will it ever actually happen?



 9:22 pm on Feb 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

A friend recently pointed out the patent evils of the GIF format [burnallgifs.org]... but Photoshop also creates PNGs that are generally twice the size of a comparable quality GIF, so I can't help but go with the smaller file size.

I don't think there's going to be a mass exodus to PNG format any time soon, unless major software titles improve their PNG support, or Unysis (LZW compression patent holders) starts suing people for using GIFs without a licence.


 9:29 pm on Feb 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

Unysis already collects on that from a few of the big boys, or so I've read.


 9:34 pm on Feb 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

Fireworks is totally png based..it saves all its files that way. I was skeptical at first, being a Paint Shop Pro person...but I wouldnt use anything else now. The transparency level control is fabulous and you can export to jpeg or gif and optimize right in one application. I have made a career out of squishing graphics down in file size cuz I have to use so many of them. Fireworks is by far the best tool I've found to work with for web graphics. It really eliminates alot of the steps you must use in PSP or PhSh with all the layering and stuff. If you dont like a button text font or color when you get it all done..you just go back and click on it and change it.(provided you saved it to PNG...I'm such a BoneHead sometimes)

PNG's are awesome for the level of transparency control BUT the file size is huge due I guess to all the info neccessary to acheive the quality.

I think SVG's will become the next big thing and I even forsee SVG type video possibilities....


 10:19 pm on Feb 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

I read that a PNG file CAN end up smaller than a GIF, if you take care to save with right options -- ensuring an 8 bit color table and so on. If you just save from an RGB file, you get too much information for a fair comparison.

I just played around with it a bit in PhotoShop and ImageReady -- and it seems true: with the right save options, I can get a smaller file in PNG with the same number of colors as a GIF.

Also, I read on the PNG website that PhotoShop support for PNG is weak. As BoneHeadicus mentioned, they say Fireworks does the best job -- so maybe there's hope?

I also like what I see in the SVG format. But I think it may be a matter of being used in different places than PNG, not one or the other always filling the bill.

SVG has also been slow to get out of the gate -- the first I heard about it, W3C was supposed to release the standard by the end of 1999.


 1:10 am on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

The reason a Fireworks PNG is so large in file size is that it saves all kinds of extra information so that you can go back and edit it at a later date. When you get ready to export for web use you can cut out most of that and have file sizes comparable with GIF and JPG's, now if only the browsers supported all the cool functions.


 1:11 am on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

I was wondering to my anti-gif friend whether Adobe had some kind of kickback deal with Unisys in trade for lousy PNG support in PhotoShop... imagine, a sinister computer conspiracy that has nothing to do with Microsoft!

I always seem to be a bit slow picking up on the 'next big thing,' I'm just now digging into CSS/DHTML type stuff... haven't gotten around to Flash yet. I don't like messing with stuff until it's fairly universally well supported (or the alternative is becoming unavoidably obsolete...). Maybe it's time to tinker with PNGs?


 2:20 am on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

mivox, that link you gave to BurnAllGifs.org [burnallgifs.org] has some important information. I had no idea that Unisys was taking on their licensing fees campaign so seriously -- to the point of wanting a licensing fee from anyone who downloads a GIF utility.

OK, so patents are claimed for most of the search engine tech, GIF compression, and hyperlinks. Whew! This could be very messy. What's next, the alphabet?

<added later>
I forgot Amazon and "one-click" purchasing as well. Lots of legal insanity that ends up hurting the field.

Edited by: tedster


 2:32 am on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Agree with tedster that PNG seemed to be the next big thing, but then drifted from consciousness. My feeling is their major advantage though was as an alternative to GIF's if the bigboys and Unisys started getting enthisiastic... claiming rights to gifs not only on utilities but on all sites from 1 pages to the biggies. Some news coverage did play up this fear early and that gave PNG a boost.


 3:04 am on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

chiyo, I just read an article on the history of the Unisys/LZW/GIF affair. I learned that the Unisys patent was actually the motivator that started PNG.

Article [cloanto.com]


 5:41 am on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Thanks for setting me right on that one Tedster.

We did seriously think about using PNP at one stage, but forgot about it as we were unsure of how easily browsers could handle it. Plus we have small sites that nobody would worry about, and we havent updated our Paint Shop Pro for ages.. (:


 7:21 am on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

All the patent garbage going around lately really seems mind-bogglingly petty to me. In most cases, if the patents were enforced, rather than resulting in a cash windfall for the patent holder, it seems an enterprising person somewhere will just come up with a work-around, leading to the extinction of the original patented item. Why waste their time looking like bad guys for nothing?

All that said... next week I'll have to see if I can get some reasonably sized PNGs out of PhotoShop. The idea of lawsuits and licensing fees gives my checkbook the willies.


 8:18 pm on Feb 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Here [playingwithfire.com] is a good site for Fireworks.

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