A while ago now, Pre 2010 I took on a mammoth task of helping out an Android developer in the XDA-Dev forum to shrink the size of all the graphic files on their Android build image. This was no mean feat as I had to painstakingly review each image and decide on how best to optimise with the tools at my disposal at the time this was Gimp.
This then got me thinking how come there isn’t yet a graphic format which rolls the compression level of JPG into an image format similar to PNG and possibly throw in animation a la GIF. Imagine to my astonishment that Google was thinking the same thing I was soon after.
The idea of being able to automate this process with various image analytical methods on standard web image formats at 4X4 pixels at a time and apply this to a NEW file format which doesn’t skimp on quality and includes a lossless option was born; enter WebP!
I hadn’t really given this format any thought until I was looking for ways on improving the speed of this site. Re-caching images into a format I knew little about was an option on one of the many addons in the library. After researching I decided it was time to run some tests of my own on the family image archive.
Cool, I’ve shrunk the directory by 30% with almost no quality loss. I’m now thinking about implementing this image format into a web proxy for content delivery as this would save bandwidth too.
There was this interesting article when Facebook decided to adopt the image format but as this was only supported on a few browsers at the time. It was a shame it didn’t ‘take’ because users where.. well; uninformed as to this cutting-edge tech which was a brilliant idea in practice the rest of the world hadn’t quite caught up.
Images can be shrunk to a quarter of the size and saving a quarter of the time loading that data. Probably not much use for high-speed internet connections but sure helps to lower Mobile network data consumption over time. One of the reasons no one is flocking to make the change as it is just that. Change.. No one likes it when they just get accustomed to PNG and then another format arrives which is for all intents and purposes, better. WebP is an unsung hero in this respect.
So, there you have it! what will be next for the WWW only time will tell.