Sunday, 22 September 2013

Whatever happened to APNG?

Sometimes you find yourself questioning the direction technology takes, including such conundrums as; why has it taken so long for fibre-optic to take off when we have known of its benefits for decades? why has it taken so long to converge tv, radio and internet into one product? Why did it take so long for SVG to be popularised? And for me most recently, why didn't APNG take off; it seems almost illogical.

APNG is a format for animated PNG sequences, a format itself which is widely used and arguably the best for internet usage, certainly the most versatile. APNG has all of the characteristics of PNG including complicated alpha transparencies and a 24bit colour palette; it just seems to defy all logic that the format didn't become supported and part of the W3C strategy for HTML 5. Animation with APNG is just better when compared to GIF, and if browsers supported the format there would have been little need for plug-ins for simple short animated sequences. It isn't interactive like swf, but then it wasn't designed to be anything beyond an animation format and let's face it, GIF leaves a lot to be desired.

So I did a little searching to gratify myself and found very little in the way of reliable information, and very little information published since 2009; it is almost as though the world forgot about the format which was very exciting around that time. I suppose the real issue is down to support, only Firefox and Opera appear to support the extension and in terms of production the support of Photoshop or Flash as an export format would have gone a long way to popularising it. So the burning question on my lips is, why didn't they? You can still output to GIF from both and now CC allows Flash to produce native HTML 5 animations. It does seem like during the past 4 or 5 years a simple option for higher quality animation on the web was simply overlooked.

Thankfully my investigations led me eventually to a promising kick-starter project APNGASM, who are aiming to develop a GUI based APNG tool, although their current project appears to be producing plug-ins and conversion tools; I am especially looking forwards to the Photoshop plug-in, however much that costs.

Kagetsuki, R., 2013. apngasm - FOSS Animated PNG tools and APNG standardization. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21 09 2013].

Mozilla, 2007. Animated PNG demos. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21 September 2013]. 

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