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Are You Going To Burn Your Gifs Today

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As many of you probably know, November 5, 1999 is the official Burn All GIFs Day, the day when developers across the web are supposed to metaphorically set their "obsolete" GIFs ablaze and start using PNGs in their place. This movement was started to protest Unisys, who owns the patent on the LZW compression algorithm used to encode GIFs, and is attempting to charge liscense fees to webmasters who are using GIFs created by unlicensed programs.

Legal issues and strengths/weaknesses of each format aside, what I want to know is: are web developers actually willing to make the leap to using PNGs yet? I think the main concern is browser compatibility. According to this page, current browser support is existent, but buggy, and pre-4.0 support is pretty much non-existent.

Speaking personally as a web developer, I'm not sure I'd be willing to risk losing compatibility with all of the browsers (pre-4.0) that don't have PNG support. Using special >=4.0 features like JavaScript1.2 or dHTML is okay with me because the page can still work without them, but with PNGs, you're risking having the user stare at a page full of broken/garbled/nonexistent images.

I certainly have no problems with PNG as a format. I'm a optimization nut; I like to squeeze every bit of size out of my images and HTML, and PNG does compress better than GIF in many situations. But until there's better/full browser support for it, and the pre-4.0 browsers finally go the way of the dinosaurs, I'll be sticking with GIFs and my Unisys-licensed copy of Adobe Photoshop.

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