[6:00 AM] Graphic Converter Adds Support For JIF, And We Aren't Talking Peanut Butter
Graphic Converter, the must have tool for graphic artists and web designers, now supports a new image format call JIF. The new format sports many of the simplicities of the standard GIF format, but allows the flexibility of the more powerful PNG format. According to Jeff Tupper, creator of the JIF format:
Jeff's Image Format (.jif) is an easy replacement for CompuServe's Graphic Interchange Format (.gif). An easy replacement for the GIF standard is warranted since the GIF standard uses LZW which is patented by Unisys. Unisys requires licensing for use of the technology covered by their patent. The Portable Network Graphics (.png) format is a well-designed standard that can be used to replace static (non-animated) GIF files. There are many reasons why the GIF standard has remained the standard format for graphics on the web. The PNG standard weakens many of them, but several problems remain:
animated GIFs cannot be encoded as PNG files, although there is another standard, Multiple-image Network Graphics (.mng), that addresses this;
properly processing PNG images requires more sophisticated image algorithms - this is probably one of the main reasons why some key software still does not fully implement PNG support (for example, the introduction of an alpha channel requires more sophisticated image layering algorithms) - the required infrastructure is not yet present; and
automatic conversion of PNG files into GIF files is problematic (this is desirable when a GIF client is requesting an image stored in the PNG format).
When PNG was constructed, many thought it an opportune time to introduce new features into a baseline image format and clearly separate static and animated image formats. Unfortunately, the mutual incompatibility of the PNG and GIF standards has lengthened the amount of time the computing public has had to endure using the patent-encumbered GIF standard. I am proposing that, as a partial step, a less aggressive change be pursued: simply replace the LZW compression used in the GIF standard with the LZ77-derived compression used in the PNG standard. This realizes several advantages:
any GIF file may be automatically converted into a corresponding JIF file,
any JIF file may be automatically converted into a corresponding GIF file,
the changes required to add JIF compatibility to a GIF-compatible program are as trivial as possible - file parsing code may be kept and all valid assumptions regarding image processing are still valid (no introduction of new features).
You can find more information on the JIF format at Jeff Tupper's web site.