Five Years On, Can Website Developers Finally Move To WebP?

Five Years On, Can Website Developers Finally Move To WebP?

While some technologies for web development have changed rapidly — the rise of Node.js based IDEs, for instance — others have remained stationary. The use of image formats has been static for decades, with the largest shift being from GIF to PNG (and arguably H.264 for animated content). That doesn’t mean there aren’t options vying for market share, with Google’s WebP being one contender.

Image by Simo99, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Despite being introduced five years ago, support for the format remains inconsistent. Obviously, it works fine in Chrome and the Blink-based Opera, but Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer / Edge won’t give it the time of day. Sure, you can use a Javascript shim, but it’s not quite that same as native handling by the browser.

Adrian James and Matt Shull over at Smashing Magazine have put an interesting case together for adopting WebP for future web development. The biggest pro is the 20-25 per cent reduction in file sizes on average compared to PNG and JPEG. There’s also consolidated support for features such as transparency and lossy / lossless compression, which are mandatory for building any site.

Unfortunately, these benefits are small consolation if your Edge, Safari and Firefox users (not to mention the plethora of other browsers there) can’t see them. Even after half a decade, it’s hard to argue for WebP.

Eventually we’ll see more efficient image formats grace the web, it’s just going to take longer than it has for audio and video.

Guide To Using WebP Images Today: A Case Study [Smashing Magazine]


  • What webP needs is a killer service. Normal users of the net cannot possibly care less about technicalities of the formats of the media they consume. They just… consume.

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