PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

PNG (Portable Network Graphic):

Most of us have heard about PNG by now, but few developers are using it on the Web due to the uneven support within the various Web browsers. The format was developed as a result of the Unisys/GIF controversy and the need to overcome the limitations of both the GIF and JPEG formats. Macromedia has adopted PNG as the native format for its Fireworks product, yet most users are still converting images for the Web to GIF and JPEG.

The next generation of browsers promise more complete support for all the features of this format, but one must wonder if it will ever make it to the mainstream, especially with the new JPEG 2000 and SVG standards currently in development. Then again, if browser support for these newer image formats languishes as long as it has for PNG, it could be a very long time before any of us will see the results of these efforts.

Regardless, PNG is finally becoming an accepted graphics standard even if not for the Web. More and more software is supporting it, users are becoming more comfortable using it, and they have come to expect support for the format within their applications. Advantages of PNG images include:

  • Lossless compression
  • 48-bit, true-color depth
  • varying levels of transparency
  • gamma correction
  • better compression, 10-30 percent smaller files than GIF
  • searchable content
  • patent-free compression algorithm

    Further reading: More About PNG

    "Web Graphics in the New Millennium" > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

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    • Lossless compression
    • 48-bit, true-color depth
    • varying levels of transparency
    • gamma correction
    • better compression, 10-30 percent smaller files than GIF
    • searchable content
    • patent-free compression algorithm