computing

BPG vs JPEG vs WebP vs JPEG-XR

I was watching this excellent video about image compression, and was reminded of this article. On re-reading it I noticed two things - firstly that I was mostly right, and secondly that this was first written in December 2014 - almost six years ago!

I should say that my biggest mistake was in predicting that Firefox would be the kingmaker. But I was right in predicting that Apple would be the last to support WebP - everyone else has for years, but they've just announced that they will add support soon. And I was partly right in saying that Apple would choose BPG because they had video patents in the pool - they did, but by then BPG had morphed into HEIF. Which is a very similar technology to BPG in that it's part of a video codec, and therefore very efficient and easily hardware accelerated. And Apple is part of the patent pool behind HEIF.

I was also right in predicting patent licensing issues for BPG or HEIF - for example students not being able to upload their coursework because the website didn't support HEIF. Some cast that as a tooling issue, but the slow uptake of HEIF has been because of licensing - tooling has been available for ages. The problem is whether or not you can legally use it. Support is slowly improving, but it's very much a second-class citizen unless you're in an all-Apple ecosystem.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. When HEIF was announced I was tempted to rewrite or update this article, but I never got around to it. Now, in 2020, I think it's better simply to resurface the article with this brief bit of modern context. And having established that, let's get to it...


The Internet loves a good format battle.

For years, we’ve had three image formats on the internet - JPEG, GIF and PNG.

We might be about to get another one.

 

Happy Birthday IBM PC - still with us (just!)

Happy Birthday, IBM PC! 30 today!

 

And haven't you done well? A lot better than MS-DOS did, anyway...

 

I measure that by your legacy. This netbook I'm typing on - and my desktop machine - are still shaped by decisions in your design. From the CPU's ISA to the I/O systems to the fact that the keyboard has a Scroll Lock key on it...
Oh, wait, my netbook doesn't have a Scroll Lock key on it. But it does have Sys Rq, which I think I used once many years ago on a 286 machine.

 

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