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Graphics Open Source Software

New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use 246

Posted by timothy
from the so-many-to-choose-from dept.
Kagetsuki writes "While grainy GIF images can have entertaining uses, they aren't the ideal animated image format due to lack of full color support and an alpha channel [for varied transparency]. Animated PNG doesn't have these faults and has been available and incorporated in quite a few browsers since roughly 2004. Lack of tools and recognition has hurt adoption, so to remedy this there is a campaign on Kickstarter to create an Open Source, high quality Animated PNG [APNG] conversion library and GUI Editor based on the APNG Assembler tool 'apngasm.' Even the primary goal includes libraries/modules for C/C++ and Ruby along with a cross platform GUI authoring tool. Aside from supporting the project simply using APNG willl help raise interest and support in the standard and bring us one step closer to a world with cleaner animated images."
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New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use

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  • by infernalC (51228) <matthew,mellon&google,com> on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:34AM (#44535863) Homepage Journal

    Animated PNG support is terrible... see:

    http://caniuse.com/apng [caniuse.com]

    No IE, no Chrome, Opera dropped it when they went to Webkit, no iPhone, no Android...
    looks like it's pretty much only available on 20%ish of desktop browsers and pretty much nothing mobile. You aren't going to get anyone to use it in a public-facing web application yet. Remember the days of "this site looks best in (Internet Explorer/Netscape/whatever)"... let's not do that again.

    Maybe if the HTML 5 standard said that conforming user agents have to do this it would put a little more umph behind it. Of course, the standard seems to follow browser development in many cases now, not the other way around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This, this, a million times this. Basically the only widely-used browser that supports APNG is Firefox. Until IE and Webkit follow suit, APNG is a total non-starter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lvxferre (2470098)

        Well, no wonders Firefox support it - accordingly to Wikipedia, APNG was created by two guys at Mozilla.

        For other browsers... well, this kind of thing usually steamrolls (more use > more users > more browser support > more use), so the beginning is slow, but the animation tools in the article may help to boost it a bit.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Why is PNG needed any more, anyway? It was only developed because of Unisys patents. GIF patents expired years ago.

      • by Rhywden (1940872) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:13PM (#44536043)

        I don't see another lossless image format with alpha channel support and 8/24bit colour depth around, do you?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dwedit (232252)

        Because PNG beats the pants off of GIF in terms of file size.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        Why is PNG needed any more, anyway? It was only developed because of Unisys patents. GIF patents expired years ago.

        uhh.. yeah I suppose you could hack in multi-bit transparency and higher color modes and better compression into gif now but .. eh, it wouldn't be gif then.

        also, who cares about the authoring tool? that's hardly the problem, the problem is that if it doesn't work on every browser you might just as well embed a fucking video(of people fucking).

        • In the end, isn't fucking videos half of what people use the internet for outside of work.. well that and facebook/twitter.
      • 24 (and higher) bit colour and full alpha channel transparency.
      • by mwvdlee (775178) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:22PM (#44536117) Homepage

        Couple of reasons
        1. Better compression.
        2. 24-bit support (still with pretty good compression).
        3. 8-bit alpha channel with 24-bit RGB.

      • by CTachyon (412849) <chronos@chronos-tachy o n . net> on Sunday August 11, 2013 @02:48PM (#44536917) Homepage

        Why is PNG needed any more, anyway? It was only developed because of Unisys patents. GIF patents expired years ago.

        The LZW patents were the impetus for PNG, but PNG is superior in every possible way... except that PNG skipped animation, because animated GIFs didn't seem like an important use case to support. (As I recall, their primary use at the time was badly pixelated spinning red alarm lights on Geocities pages.)

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:20PM (#44536099) Homepage

      My first thought exactly.
      We don't need APNG creator tools, we need browser support first.

    • I'm amazed Firefox has support. I was 100% certain that there was an argument/discussion on Bugzilla about this, and Mozilla's opinion on this was that having animated PNG support would just increase the size of the browser whilst there were virtually no websites using it.

      Did I imagine this, or did something change, or do they only support a subset of animated PNG or something?
      • I'm amazed Firefox has support. I was 100% certain that there was an argument/discussion on Bugzilla about this, and Mozilla's opinion on this was that having animated PNG support would just increase the size of the browser whilst there were virtually no websites using it. Did I imagine this, or did something change, or do they only support a subset of animated PNG or something?

        Sorry for replying to my own post... I was getting confused with MNG. I guess APNG must be easier to implement?

        • by jkflying (2190798)

          Apparently it is less than 1KB of extra decoder size.

        • by Fnord666 (889225) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @05:05PM (#44537625) Journal
          From the Kickstarter page:

          What about MNG?

          If APNG is a screwdriver MNG is a Swiss Army Knife with all sorts of little tools, one of which being a screwdriver head that is sort of awkward and difficult to use. MNG has a lot of compelling features that sound great but the reality is all these features made MNG difficult to implement. MNG isn't a simple [screwdriver] "frame based" format. Instead it has a bunch of small embedded tools [Swiss Army Knife] to create animations. For example it contains individual image objects/sprites and these are manipulated through some sort of animation instruction system that is embedded in the image - and variations of sprites are stored as delta fragments, and there's additional support for these fragments to be in transparent JPG which is a questionable standard on its own and seems self defeating in a PNG based standard...? If you want just a frame based animated image APNG does the job and is simpler, if you want a complex format that has individual image fragments and scripted action then SVG+SMIL is your solution; MNG is too complex to outdo APNG and too inflexible to outdo SVG+SMIL.

    • There's a patch for Chrome/Chromium they've promised to accept if they see more widespread usage. Also may I point out that APNG gracefully degrades to PNG - so APNG will not actually break anything you'll just get the first frame on a browser that does not support APNG. In other words no "this site looks best in" required - just be aware that some browsers will only show the first frame.

      It would be great to have a widely accepted standard from the get-go but that is something we do not have. APNG is the cl

  • by macemoneta (154740) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:34AM (#44535871) Homepage

    Most sites that use animated GIFs have restrictions on size and dimensions (typically 500x500 1MB). The quality of APNG within those restrictions won't be any better.

    • by aliquis (678370)

      If only the network got faster and people was willing to accept bigger file sizes and RAM usage!

      • What I find a bit annoying is that many organizations and ISPs still limit the standard user mailbox to 100MB. Can't it be cranked up in this day and age already? Make 1GB the new de facto standard, I say.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        My Quake site that I ran fifteen to ten years ago used LOTS of animated gifs, as well as a little javascript. There were three at the top of each page, two animated stroggs surrounding a drawing of the Illinois state capitol with blood in the street that was overlaid with the dog tag from the game that said "loading", with the tag going away after 30 seconds or so. If you moused over the strogg on the right, sonic the hedgehog would run past and the strogg would try to stomp him. If the cursor stayed over t

      • If only the network got faster

        Yeah, if only. The POTS network is still stuck at 50 kbps effective throughput, and a lot of local telcos appear not to be too eager to upgrade the remaining customers stuck on dial-up to DSL. Microwave is limited by investors wanting to see short-term earnings over long-term investment in cell tower construction or satellite launches.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Most sites that use animated GIFs have restrictions on size and dimensions (typically 500x500 1MB). The quality of APNG within those restrictions won't be any better.

      PNG uses substantially better compression technology than GIF (a two pass algorithm with a pixel value predictor in the first and then compressing the errors after the first pass in the second using deflate, which combines LZ77 dictionary encoding and an adaptive huffman coder, versus straightforward LZW, which is only a dictionary coder), so this is not really true. You can achieve a lot more in a 1MB PNG than a 1MB GIF.

  • MNG? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What happened to the MNG version of PNG?

    • by grumbel (592662)

      MNG was horribly over engineered, bloated with features and never really supported by anybody, neither tools nor browsers.

  • by dmbasso (1052166) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:38AM (#44535883)

    From this 2004 story: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/04/08/28/2312256/presenting-apng-like-mng-only-better [slashdot.org]

    "Unlike MNG, APNG is not a separate file format, but rather an extension to PNG. Thus, APNG images are just normal PNG images (with the .png extension) but can be animated. The system is fully backwards-compatable, so any program that can open a PNG image will be able to open an APNG image (though non-APNG viewers will only show the first frame). Vitally, the decoder just adds an extra few kilobytes onto a standard PNG decoder. APNG support is in the process of being checked into Mozilla. Hopefully, other programs will follow suit."

    • My memory from back then was that MNG was a huge and complex library, something like 8MB. Since Firefox is only 21MB right now, no one considered it worth including.
      • by Hsien-Ko (1090623)
        How can that be? Paint Shop Pro 5's supplemental program Animation Shop 1 supported MNG back in 1998 and it didn't bloat the filesizes immensely, with an EXE at 1.4mb.
        • How can that be?

          For whatever reason, MNG became a cultural thing around Mozilla, Inc. - that thing that everybody loved to hate for no good reason at all. Excuses were made and the RFE closed, despite the massive number of votes for it.

        • I don't know, maybe there were extensions added after 1998? In any case, bloat was the actual reason the Firefox guys gave for not including MNG.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Developer ego together with a healthy dose of "not invented here" syndrome is what happened. MNG was removed from Firefox by Stuart Parmenter "to save download size" (without libmng, the Firefox download would save 200 KB back in the days when Firefox was considered the "lean version" of Mozilla). He then proceeded to instead propose APNG with vlad to effectively replace the GIF standard for animation without relying on MNG by applying custom patches to libpng.

      Needless to say, when Mozilla brought the APNG

  • by 1000101 (584896) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:44AM (#44535911)
    If they convince reddit to endorse it, the format will take off. That place probably links to more .gif files than any other site out there.
  • Can someone explain why APNG would be preferable over MNG, besides wider application support? I haven't followed these projects closely, and it seems counterproductive to me to develop a new standard when an apparently serviceable one already existed.
    • Backwards compatability. Browsers without APNG support will see it as a normal PNG image and load the first frame, similar to viewing an animated GIF in a browser with animations disabled (loads first frame only).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 11, 2013 @11:59AM (#44535973)
    I remember when people wrote free software because it scratched an itch. Kickstarter seems to be setting a trend where people won't write free software unless they get paid. (Or they will write it and refuse to release it unless they get paid). That's not FREE software, it's hostage software.
    • by tuppe666 (904118) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:18PM (#44536089)

      I remember when people wrote free software because it scratched an itch.

      There are talented individuals producing small free software, or joining organisation to produce larger software, and companies with real money able to contribute/create to free software. Is there no room in that for funding a group *itch*(sic), or helping an (group of) individuals scratch theirs who otherwise wouldn't be able to due to life commitments...software takes time and effort to create.

      The bottom line is people produce free software for a whole host of reasons. I personally see money being a great reason, as do all those companies already contributing to free software. In reality its the most common one.

    • I disagree. If it's free-as-in-speech software, then - barring fraud - either...
      A. People will pledge for it, it gets made, and released in free-as-in-speech form.
      B. People won't pledge for it, it doesn't get made, and thus any argument over its being free or not is moot.

      Kickstarter does see its share of software projects where sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't have been written on the authors' own time in spare time anyway and released on sourceforge only to be discovered months later by the masses. But

      • Of course that $1.99 is just a burger

        That's not a valid comparison if your market includes children under legal working age, which is the case for (say) any video game not rated M or AO. A $1.99 burger doesn't cost $1.99 to a child; it costs one week of waiting for the parent's next scheduled trip to a fast food chain. A lot of parents are, for some irrational reason, far more willing to spend $1.99 on a burger than $1.99 on an application when it isn't the child's birthday or Christmas.

        The downside of the donation button model is that few people actually use it.

        Hence "lite" and "pro" versions of applications on Google

    • by jon3k (691256)
      I don't think it's people who would have otherwise written free software using kickstarter, I think it's people who would have otherwise written commercial, closed-source software looking for a different funding avenue.
    • by westlake (615356)

      I remember when people wrote free software because it scratched an itch. Kickstarter seems to be setting a trend where people won't write free software unless they get paid.

      There is nothing unusual in a developer being paid for his work or subsidized in some other fashion when he contributes to an open source project. It allows him to work full time on the thing. It gives him access to manpower and other resources he could not afford on his own.

    • I remember when people wrote free software because it scratched an itch. Kickstarter seems to be setting a trend where people won't write free software unless they get paid. (Or they will write it and refuse to release it unless they get paid). That's not FREE software, it's hostage software.

      I have always wanted that OSS devs get paid properly. Programming even small apps from start to finish is surprisingly hard and time-consuming. I hate when there is some free software app hanging at version 0.6 for years because there is not enough resources to keep the project running.

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      If I could get paid full time, I'd quit my current job in a heartbeat and work on personal projects. "Fuck you, pay me" isn't about greed -- it's about supporting yourself.

      Starting a business is very, very difficult and time consuming if you only want to work on a few things. I'm not sure if I'd use it, but Kickstarter is a terrific idea.

    • by Xyrus (755017)

      I remember when people wrote free software because it scratched an itch. Kickstarter seems to be setting a trend where people won't write free software unless they get paid. (Or they will write it and refuse to release it unless they get paid). That's not FREE software, it's hostage software.

      No, it's not hostage software. Software developers need to eat. Writing free software and kindly asking for donations very rarely generates enough to put food on the table. Using Kickstarter is actually a good idea. If there is enough demand, then people will contribute to it. And afterwards, the project gets released for free to the community.

      Software developers get paid. Community gets free software.

  • Please note their $5,000 prize is a two-months' stay in Japan: Land of soy sauce... and Mothra.

    • by Rizimar (1986164)

      From the Kickstarter page:

      2 months of living and office space at Genshin Souzou in Aichi, Japan. We have a room and working space specifically for visiting creators/developers/makers and our office has a shower and a ktichen. You can even drive the company car (international manual license required)!

      I saw this, too, and was thinking that it might almost be worth it for the experience

  • Remember when (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:13PM (#44536045) Homepage Journal

    Remember when creating high quality open source software didn't require a Kickstarter campaign?

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      High quality open source software? Like what?

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        High quality open source software? Like what?

        Linux, Apache, GNOME, KDE, Mozilla...

        Open source is usually (not always) higher quality than closed source. Windows has trailed in features and useability behind Linux for years, for example.

    • by The Cat (19816) *

      Why is it that you people bitch every time someone gets paid?

      You fuckers destroyed the software industry. And now every time someone tries to get something going again you fucks show up and start crying like little bitches because someone is earning money for their hard fucking work.

      If you don't want to invest in the project, then DON'T. You can download the source for free after the rest of us pay for it.

    • by Xyrus (755017)

      Remember when creating high quality open source software didn't require a Kickstarter campaign?

      I remember when software developers subsisted on nothing but air and close proximity to an electric line, and required only their imagination to create software and distribute it via their magical mind rainbows to all the computers in the world.

      Sometimes people actually want to get paid for what they do. And usually, if someone can get paid while doing something they like then that's all the better.

    • Remember when creating high quality open source software didn't require a Kickstarter campaign?

      Uh, yeah. I remember that time. It was yesterday. Or did Linus start a "Linux Kickstarter" when I wasn't looking? The fact that some people who launch projects via Kickstarter choose to license their project under an Open Source licence doesn't mean that every open source project is.

      Prophet of doom, much?

  • Including improved ones..."

    • And autoplay video. And scrolling/looping banners and sidebars. And blinky/noisy ads. And floating boxes. And pop-over subscription requests. Yes. Kill them all. I keep throwing matches at the screen, but they won't burn.

    • by Inda (580031)
      No. Keep them. Keep them all.

      These looping animations are great. They're small in filesize - great for mobile browsing. They have no sound! No sound! Are often cut to a small number of frames, ending the "yeah, click here and fast forward to 32m 05s, to view 2 seconds of funny" links. No one adds "?t=32m05s" to a query string, before any one brings that up. Are rarely deleted due to DCMA.

      What's not to like about them?
  • I'm curious - why not go with WebP instead? I haven't looked too closely at the format, licensing, burden on CPU/memory, etc.

    I do however know from my own tests that it generally performs better than PNG and already has animation support (though the Chromium team has rejected supporting it last month due to performance issues - but they also don't support APNG out of the box, you have to get a plugin).

    Or skip the 'animated image' stage altogether and go straight to video (though there's more concerns there

    • by Fnord666 (889225)
      From the kickstarter page:

      What about WebP?

      Comparing WebP to APNG is like comparing Apples and Oranges. WebP is an up-and-coming web oriented image format from google. Part of the WebP standard mentions animation. WebP however does not currently have anything more than a sample implementation, and WebP will probably never be backported to older devices and software and may never be ported to a lot of software that already supports PNG. This means that if you start using WebP now you can expect a lot of people to not be able to view your images at all - whereas with APNG they will at worst simply see the first or fallback frame.

      WebP solves different issues and has a variety of features, such as lossy compression profiles and filters that simply don't apply to PNG and will not be part of the simple APNG standard [though it could be noted these features and more were in MNG]. APNG and WebP are simply different, and though they solve some of the same problems they are not really competing formats. Ideally we'd like to see wide spread adoption of both formats on just about everything in the future - but we can have and use APNG right now.

  • by Lord_Naikon (1837226) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @12:28PM (#44536155)

    It's worth noting that GIFs may overlay multiple image blocks with separate color pallets, resulting in true color images [tweakers.net].

    The problem here is that some browsers (chrome) insert an artificial 0.1s delay between "frames".

    Also if you can do this [amusingplanet.com] with GIF one has to wonder if APNG has actually any viability other than as a source format.

  • ... we used to draw little animated cartoons on the corners of our textbook pages and flip through them when class got boring. Oh yeah, and walk to and from school through the snow. Uphill both ways.

    Now stay off my lawn!

  • APNGASM is what you get when you search for the Assessor's Parcel Number on a desirable piece of property and find out it's clean.

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Sunday August 11, 2013 @01:16PM (#44536419) Homepage Journal

    A quick search turned up this tool for converting animated GIFs to APNG:

    http://gif2apng.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    Sure it could probably be built on and improved, but the real issue are the browsers. I just checked on MacOS X with Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari. Of those browsers only Firefox and Opera supported APNG.

    The kickstarter should, IMHO 'focus' on:
        - APNG awareness (available converters, creation tools, viewers, etc)
        - Getting key websites to support it. I am thinking of sites such as Tumblr.
        - Pushing for support in other main-stream browsers (IE, Safari, Google Chrome)
     

  • If it's animated, it's a movie. I don't see why we need to overload our image formats with movie features. If you're going to show a movie, use a movie format, and stop pretending its a static image. This crap may have made sense back when Compuserve was bigger than the Internet, but that was a long time ago.

    Name me one reason why a movie-format-pretending-to-be-a-static-image-format is a useful thing today.

Byte your tongue.

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