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Webp - Ignored?

pagalprogrammer profile image Ankit Beniwal 🙂 twitter logo github logo Updated on ・1 min read  

We all are familiar with webp image format and the benefits of using it.

For the sake of those who have not yet explored about it -> WebP

Despite this, we are not using it the way we should. Why?

It's been more than 9 years since it was released by google. I mean the only question is about public acceptability. So why can't we developers make this our habit to use this format?

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I would have to say that it probably comes down to two things:

  • Almost all multimedia software defaults to saving in other formats, and you need extra applications on many systems to even open the file for anything other than viewing. This adds overhead to generating them in the first place (unless you're smart and handle that server-side after upload).
  • Browser support is, honestly, rather bad. IE is never going to support it, Safari probably wont, and Edge and Firefox have only just added support in the past year. That general lack of support hurts uptake, because it means that to use WebP images and not break the site for a lot of people, you need to have a fallback of some sort, and that's honestly more effort than it's worth for many developers.
 

As far as browser support is concerned, the picture tag is the simplest and the best solution for it.

 

That still falls apart on IE, and it's still more work than many are willing to put in.

Keep in mind that there are an unfortunate number of 'web developers' who only work in stuff like Dreamweaver, and as a result are entirely beholden to how whatever their HTML editor happens to be handles this type of thing.

 

I suspect thats because everything is saving in png/jpg (smartphone photo, screenshots), and you need additional apps on the desktop/mobile to open webp. This is just too much hassle. As for devs, they are lazy - most of the times they arent even optimizing jpegs, so knowing and using whole another format to improve performance is just beyond their reach.

 

It seems to be a vicious cycle. Everything is saving in those formats because we made the applications that way.

And now we can't change due to that.

 

Yep. I think change has to come from big guys, supporting it out of the box. Like image preview on OS level, thumbnails in OS, previews in dropbox etc.

This is damn right.

Here is a feature request to Microsoft for webp. Vote it if you want webp support to be included in Windows:

todo.uservoice.com/forums/597175-f...

 

I think there's another cause: webp does nothing new.

It does existing things in slightly fewer bytes, so there's no features that drive us from older formats to webp.

While ~25% may seem like a lot, it's not like the difference between x264 and x265 which directly influences the quality and resolutions available. It's also not going to make the difference between "usable" and "unusable", so while the images occupy the lion share of the load time for many websites, we've been trained to make that work, so there's no pull to move away from there either. And sure, any speed up is nice, but this is going to make only slight difference rather than a completely different experience.

 
 

We all are familiar with webp image format and the benefits of using it.

I have literally never heard of WebP in my entire life.

 
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Ankit Beniwal 🙂 profile image
Love to jump in at the deep end.