The almighty and all encompassing JPEG seems to continually be under siege from challenging formats seeking JPEGs widespread adoption and use. Of course, it only makes sense since JPEG is the ubiquitous file format most widely used as a lossy 8-bit compression format for digital images the world over – they’re low hanging fruit, but not necessarily easy pickings. Though challenged often, JPEG has yet to relent, and probably in no short part to the breadth of its adoption. BPG is a new file format that is seeking a piece of that pie right now, and the whole thing a little down the road.
Proposed by award winning French programmer Fabrice Bellard, BPG or Better Portable Graphics, could halve the file size of JPEGS while retaining more information. The idea of having smaller file sizes is an attractive one because smaller files make for faster data transfer, and require less processing power from any system. The price has always been quality, but JPEGs do a fair job at finding a good compromise. BPG though, is able to create significantly higher quality files compared the the same size file JPEG.
Unlike some previous types, the BPG is not a spin off the JPEG that improves it, but rather a whole new direction derived from a subset from the open video compression standard HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding). It supports the same chroma formats as JPEG and support for the alpha channel too, but its native support if 8 – 14 bits per channel, giving it a high dynamic range. All of this means that you’ll have an image with less blocky artifacts common to the JPEG, and an image that’s just better all ‘round.
There’s a caveat, of course, and that is, it’s new and generally unsupported by browsers and hardware etc, but that could change. The question now is, will it? At a time when bandwith is increasing, devices handle more and more, it may seem that we don’t need smaller file sizes…somewhat. But it does make a case for replacing formats like PNG or BMP or even TIFF (sort of) which can deliver the goods for the price of enormous files. Maybe this has more of a future in this line of file format, than to take out the JPEG. Time will tell.
For all the details on BPG, head over to Fabrice Bellard’s site.