AVIF has been getting a lot of tech press, but Jon Sneyers is hot on JPEG XL (which makes sense as he’s the “chair of the JPEG XL ad hoc group in the JPEG Committee”). According to Jon’s comparison, JPEG XL comes out on top on everything, except low fidelity compression, and offers progressive rendering which none of the other next-gen codecs do. But WebP (not to be confused with the upcoming WebP2!) has something of a leg up now that it has support across all the major browsers.
There is a whole ecosystem around image formats that is way wider than websites, of course, and I’m sure that plays a big role in what ends up on websites. What format do you get when you make screenshots on your system? What does your digital camera export? What does your favorite design software export? Then, once people have images, does the website-making software you use support them? I think of how WordPress rejects SVG unless you force it; I just tried uploading an AVIF for this post and it won’t take that, either.
I also think of the UX of new formats, like when I have a
.avif file on my desktop, my macOS computer doesn’t know what to make of it. It’s just a blank white document with no preview. The image ecosystem as a whole moves slower than the web. Inertia, as Jon puts it, is a good framing, but hopefully can be overcome:
Let’s just hope that the new codecs will win the battle, which is mostly one that’s against inertia and the “ease” of the status quo. Ultimately, unless JPEG remains a dominant force, regardless of which new codec will prevail, we’ll reap the benefits of stronger compression, higher image fidelity, and color accuracy, which translate to more captivating, faster-loading images.
I’d bet that image codecs evolve as long as displaying images on screens is a thing. There is no endgame. The blog post I’m linking to from Jon is on the Cloudinary blog, and I gotta give it to them: Cloudinary — and services like it — are a solution here. They provide a system where I don’t have to care about image formats all that much. I upload whatever I have (ideally: big and high-quality) and they can serve the best possible format, size, and quality for the situation. That job, to me, is just too damn hard to do manually, let alone stay on top of long-term.
I see JPEG 2000 is still hanging out, but whatever happened to JPEG XR? It wasn’t that long ago we talked about serving that, even with
<source>. Was that just mostly an IE thing that died with IE?
Oh, I see how it is.
JPEG XL wasn’t cool enough for you on JS Danger, but now it is?!
You were right! This is apparently extra-cool now. But look how gnarly the spec page for it is: https://jpeg.org/jpegxl/ Looks kinda 1998-y. And still not getting near the press as AVIF is!
Now that we have half-way support for webp the last thing we need is another standards vying for dominance. I want to see just one modern format with a wide adoption.
what do you mean by halfway support? 2018-2020 pretty much closed the circle with Edge, Firefox and Safari adding support in back to back to back years. Unless half of your base is a mix of IE (which will never get support), pre iOS14/BigSur and KaiOS, you will be fine. It’s pretty much supported across the board (93%)
I know that the 20 yo JP2K is being watched closely by HTJP2K and a case is being made for having it replaced. I sense that the JPEG XR is likely is out by the pasture. Thought it carried some important features, it’s not been updated in nearly 10 yrs (2012), which is like 100 in tech years. Added, I wonder how much of either are being served by CDNs, who have been the ones pushing them out in the wild in the past. But w/ webp and even avif coming around… might be a tough call.