GIF = Graphics Interchange Format. GIF is used to pack 8-bit images using lossless compression.

GIF comes in two forms:

  • GIF87, which is the normal format.
  • GIF89a, which adds a single-color transparency.

GIF is quite obsolete by now, and while there are still plenty of GIFs around, you really should be using PNG as its replacement, since it offers much better compression, up to 48 bits colordepth, per-pixel transparency information, and all sorts of other goodies.


Say what you will... but GIFs and JPGs are what most people use. I'm not a techie... and have been living/working on the internet for years (as a user)... and I've never even heard of PNG. -- MatthewSimpson

Well, around here all of the techie population uses PNGs. Perhaps you are hanging around in the wrong techie groups :-).

-- JanneJalkanen

That's exactly it... I'm not hanging out in techie groups at all... You are right... 70+% of the rest of the world should be using PNG. -- MatthewSimpson


Correct me... I think that GIF is a free format and PNG not or somethink like that.

--Dran+Dane, 30-May-2007

No, you have that backwards. PNG is open, GIF includes a patented algorithm. As it says on Wikipedia's GIF page:

GIF images are compressed using the LZW lossless data compression technique to reduce the file size without degrading the visual quality. This compression technique was patented in 1985. The controversy over the patent licensing agreement between the patent proprietor, Unisys, and CompuServe in 1994 led to the development of the PNG (Portable Network Graphics) standard.

-- MurrayAltheim, 30-May-2007


Note that GIF is now free, as all the relevant patents expired in 2004.

--JanneJalkanen, 30-May-2007

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« This page (revision-8) was last changed on 30-May-2007 16:14 by JanneJalkanen