By Rebecca Sykes
Posted at 12:38 PM PT, Oct 4, 1996
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced its support this week for
the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) specification, which is designed to
bring faster-loading, better-quality graphics to the World Wide Web.
PNG works by storing inside the graphics file information about the
image, according to Chris Lilley, one of PNG's authors who is now in
charge of graphics and fonts at the W3C.
The user's browser reads the information and automatically makes
adjustments, rendering a better image, Lilley said.
PNG, which is pronounced "ping," was created by an informal group working
over the Internet, Lilley said.
"Most of us have never met," Lilley said.
The group developed the specification as an alternative to GIF (Graphics
Interchange Format) in response to GIF-owner Unisys Corp.'s decision in
1994 to charge royalty fees for the use of its graphics file format,
Unlike GIF, PNG can hold all the colors of a graphic; users don't have to
reduce the number of colors they display, sacrificing the quality of the
graphic, according to Lilley. This means that PNG images retain their
shadowing and other subtle qualities, Lilley said. In addition, images
using the PNG format display the same way on multiple platforms, unlike GIF
images, Lilley said.
However, PNG is a single-image format -- good for "stills" -- whereas GIF
can have multiple images, like a flip-book of simple animation, Lilley
PNG's endorsement by the W3C means it will become the de facto format
standard on the World Wide Web, because W3C's members include most browser
makers, Lilley said.
W3C is an industry consortium jointly run by MIT's Laboratory for
Computer Science, in the United States, the National Institute for
Research in Computer Science and Automation, in France, and Keio
University, in Japan.
The consortium can be reached at http://www.w3.org/.
Rebecca Sykes is a Boston-based correspondent for the IDG News Service,
an InfoWorld affiliate.