More people getting it wrong about graphics formats


I subscribe to the Code Project mailing list. So every day I get an email with some links. Some stories are good (I started this blog in response to one). Some are very poor: I highlighted an earlier one about graphics formats like that.

And today I am going to do the same thing. Admittedly this one is not quite so poor. But it is still fundamentally wrong when it says

Portable Network Graphics

Image via Wikipedia

PNG is a lossless format. It is not. It may be lossless, and most PNGs out there are likely to be lossless, but stating that it is lossless a priori is just WRONG.

PNGs may be lossy – particularly if colour quantization is applied.

Furthermore PNGs are not magic machines that defy the third law of thermodynamics. If you have a lossy graphic – eg if your camera only produces compressed JPEGs then storing it as a PNG will not magic away the losses.

Horses for courses people: or, as we say in the trade, it’s a heuristic not an algorithm. There is not likely to be any simple answer to your question “what is the best format to use”: though in most cases JPEGs are the right format for (online) presentations of real world objects and PNGs are likely the best options for line drawings online (though maybe you will want to use SVG for that if they are generated programmatically).