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Firefox Devs Leaning Toward WebP

Oh happy day! In light of “new data that shows that WebP has valid use cases and advantages” Mozilla Firefox developers have decided to explore supporting the awesome format natively in Firefox. WebP, in short, is an open image format developed by Google in their valiant effort to speed up the web, however after three years, in spite of the multipurpose format being truly fantastic versus other raster formats pretty much across the board, only Chrome, Chromium, Opera, Android and Maxthon support the format natively, making it pointless, in spite of the bandwidth and storage savings it would offer, for web developers to start using the format, given that Chrome and Opera account for less than half of the web browser pie.

But with Firefox on board, if they go through with this, that pushes native WebP-supported web surfers over 60%, which is a compelling figure to pressure Microsoft and Apple to join the party (why not — no skin off their back). Microsoft has already shown willingness to take advantage of Google’s free beer technology by including support for the incredible SPDY protocol in IE11. So if they’d just take it one step farther in the direction of progress, that would eventually be 90% of web surfers who can view WebP images. Sooner than eventually if they roll out a patch for older IE versions.

To me, 90% is high enough to convert some of my sites’ images into WebP without even bothering with javascript decoders and jpeg substitution. I need the storage space, I need the bandwidth. JPEG, PNG and GIF, compared to WebP, are antiquated, WebP can express pretty much the same quality set of pixels those formats can for any purpose, including as of last week animation which until then could only be done with lousy 256-color GIFs (animated PNGs never took off). I would set my sites to, I don’t know, display “Images optimized for Google Chrome” for non-supporting browser visits. Other sites will do that too, and that’s even more pressure for either more browser adoption or consumers switching away from IE and Safari to WebP-supporting browsers. Critical mass is in sight, damnit.

Just that Mozilla has “re-opened” the “bug” ticket is big enough news to give WebP traction in my book. With the advantages of WebP available and that degree of browser support, I’ll bet there’d be enough guys like me to squeeze the likes of Apple over the edge with Safari, and once iPhones and iPads are on board (the code is sitting right here), game over. Or game on? You know what I mean.

I’m so happy.

Doug Simmons

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