Although it’s pronounced jiff or giff, the file format extension .GIF is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format. Originally developed by CompuServe, this format is popular across the web for using graphics in various online situations. GIFs, unlike similar file types like JPGEGs, can carry animations as well as plain image files.
Technipages Explains GIF
GIFs use a unique and patented lossless compression technique called LZW in order to reduce the size of graphics files without losing any of the data within them. LWZ is less effective in reducing filesize than the compression technique of JPEG is, however JPEG uses lossy compression meaning that some data sections are actually lost. This doesn’t affect the file in a visible way, but in some cases, loss isn’t acceptable at all – that’s when GIFs prove more useful.
JPEGs can be transmitted faster as they can be up to two thirds smaller than the same file as a GIF, however GIFs have abilities that JPEGs don’t – as mentioned, they can contain animated content, for example. Due to the proprietary compression algorithm used by GIFs, a lot of professionals are switching to PNG files wherever possible. While PNGs also can’t contain animations, they can have a transparent background, which JPEGs cannot. This makes them great for use in websites and the like, where transparency is a must. PNGs use public-domain compression algorithms, making them an easier choice for most purposes.
Common Uses of GIF
- GIF is a type of file that is used to store graphics and images.
- Particularly suited for images that have large solid coloured areas, GIFs do still have their uses.
- Compared to PNGs, GIFs are at a disadvantage because their compression algorithm is patented.
Common Misuses of GIF
- GIF is short for Giraffe Image Format.