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From James Sutherland <ja...@cam.ac.uk>
Subject Re: [Fwd: png icons for apache]
Date Mon, 18 Sep 2000 16:19:56 GMT
On Mon, 18 Sep 2000 TOKILEY@aol.com wrote:

> 
> In a message dated 00-09-18 03:53:19 EDT, Manoj wrote...
> 
> >  > J. Sutherland wrote...
> > > How about the approach used by the W3C for the Validator's images -
> >  > provide both formats, and let negotiation sort it out? That way, wherever
> >  > possible you're serving up nice "clean" PNGs, but you still have the GIFs
> >  > available for older browsers.
> >  
> >  This doesn't avoid the problems with providing GIFs in the first
> >  place, though, does it?
> 
> Two things about the whole GIF thing...
> 
> 1. Leading experts agree the reason they haven't seriously pursued the
> copyright is because it won't hold up in court. Too much prior art.
> They stole it from someone else, anyway. The power of copyright and
> patent lies more in what people think might happen than in what
> actually ever would if push came to shove.

Given the choice, though, I'd rather use something other than GIFs.

> 2. Just FILTER the files. That's right... a simple FILTER will take
> care of the whole problem. From an Internet Server's perspective ( and
> from a legal perspective ) a .GIF file is nothing more than a pile of
> bytes sitting on a hard drive. The only possible tooth the .GIF
> copyright/patent has concerns whether images are being actually
> generated and/or transmitted 'as is' using .GIF format.

The filename is irrelevant - the point is, ATM we use GIF files. As a long
term aim, we should probably use PNG files instead when we can.

> Solution is simple. Just don't send them. Use a filter and convert
> them to something else 'on the fly' like .PNG or .JPG. No big deal.
> Any good transcoding server can already do this if it has the right
> FILTERS written already.

Eh? Why bother? Why not just replace the GIF files with PNG ones, if/when
we need to stop using GIFs?

> BTW: Did you know that most modern browsers don't care what the MIME
> type is or the file extension on a graphics file? Most of them do 'the
> right thing' and actually decide what kind of image it really is by
> looking at the 'magic signature' bytes at the beginning of the
> graphics transmission. That means you can actually rewrite graphics on
> the fly and not have to touch the HTML document.

There are still browsers out there not capable of handling PNG files,
which need GIFs. Not PNG files with a filename ending .gif, but GIF files.
I think we should still retain the GIF files to support these; where
possible, we should return the PNG alternative.

> In most cases you can convert a graphic offline into another format,
> leave the original file extension so the Server still finds the
> requested object... and it all still works... only you never actually
> sent the data format that was asked for.

Why bother? If we want PNGs, just convert the GIFs to PNGs once. Much more
efficient.


James.


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