BPG vs JPEG vs WebP vs JPEG-XR

I was watching this excellent video about image compression, and was reminded of this article. On re-reading it I noticed two things - firstly that I was mostly right, and secondly that this was first written in December 2014 - almost six years ago!

I should say that my biggest mistake was in predicting that Firefox would be the kingmaker. But I was right in predicting that Apple would be the last to support WebP - everyone else has for years, but they've just announced that they will add support soon. And I was partly right in saying that Apple would choose BPG because they had video patents in the pool - they did, but by then BPG had morphed into HEIF. Which is a very similar technology to BPG in that it's part of a video codec, and therefore very efficient and easily hardware accelerated. And Apple is part of the patent pool behind HEIF.

I was also right in predicting patent licensing issues for BPG or HEIF - for example students not being able to upload their coursework because the website didn't support HEIF. Some cast that as a tooling issue, but the slow uptake of HEIF has been because of licensing - tooling has been available for ages. The problem is whether or not you can legally use it. Support is slowly improving, but it's very much a second-class citizen unless you're in an all-Apple ecosystem.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. When HEIF was announced I was tempted to rewrite or update this article, but I never got around to it. Now, in 2020, I think it's better simply to resurface the article with this brief bit of modern context. And having established that, let's get to it...

The Internet loves a good format battle.

For years, we’ve had three image formats on the internet - JPEG, GIF and PNG.

We might be about to get another one.


Computer security should be visible

Kind of.

We're trying to change a culture here.

At first, IT was a strange thing in big offices with big expensive kit that worked miracles.

Then, it came down to the desktop, and allowed anyone to perform smaller miracles.

Next, we connected those desktops and gave everyone the benefits of sharing files, emails and so forth.

Recently, we interconnected all the separate business networks via the internet, which was a huge boon but also a security bane.

Happy Birthday IBM PC - still with us (just!)

Happy Birthday, IBM PC! 30 today!


And haven't you done well? A lot better than MS-DOS did, anyway...


I measure that by your legacy. This netbook I'm typing on - and my desktop machine - are still shaped by decisions in your design. From the CPU's ISA to the I/O systems to the fact that the keyboard has a Scroll Lock key on it...
Oh, wait, my netbook doesn't have a Scroll Lock key on it. But it does have Sys Rq, which I think I used once many years ago on a 286 machine.


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