All of us have come across GIF images, or moreover, created GIF images, because GIF is a very popular image format on the web. On Facebook Messenger, in addition to entering a normal text message, attaching a photo, etc., there is also a GIF button for you to enter a message with an animated GIF image – that is, an animated GIF image.
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|Go to giphy.com and search for animated gifs with the theme of Covid-19|
What is a GIF?
Image files used on early computers were recorded in a pixel-by-pixel format, called a bitmap, and in the BMP format for short. The size of BMP files is very large. In 1987, CompuServe Company released a new format called GIF – short for Graphic Interchange Format. This format still records each pixel but uses the LZW compression algorithm, so the image file size is greatly reduced. At the time GIF was born, digital images could only have a maximum of 256 colors, so the GIF format was created according to this palette.
Until now, Facebook users still easily use Giphy’s photo store. For example, when using Messenger, users can click the GIF button to select GIF images that match the content of the message they are trying to convey. That’s possible because Facebook (and many other companies like Twitter…) have used Giphy’s API, of course, under some kind of agreement between the two parties without the user needing to know.
A feature of the GIF format is that an image file can store many images and when displayed, each image will appear in turn, like turning the page of a book and feeling like a moving image. These images appear in a loop, at the end of the last image, return to the first image. Not as smooth as a video file, but this animation file is much more convenient because it doesn’t need any additional applications to run.
A small feature of GIF is that out of 256 colors one can be set to be transparent, so that when you place a GIF image on top of another image or text, at transparent places in the GIF image the image or text. The bottom still shows up.
GIF was born before the World Wide Web. Five years after the WWW got its first image, it was a GIF file. It was the only reasonable option because the line speed was very slow then and the GIF file size was remarkably small making it uploaded quickly.
Later, when information technology developed, digital images reached 64,000 colors and then 16 million colors, making the colors more realistic. GIF format with 256 colors is no longer suitable. However, the 16 million color images are so large that even with file compression, it is still too heavy. The JPEG compression standard is introduced. According to this compression method, the image file can be compressed to a few dozen times smaller than the original file, but in return the image quality is degraded because there are many points on the image that are accepted to blur colors to increase compression. Currently, most digital cameras and smartphones use 16 million color images stored in JPEG compression with a .JPG file extension.
As seen above, GIF was born in the early days of computers, even then the web was not yet born, so its technology is still outdated. Therefore, in addition to JPEG, which is a highly compressed but lossy format, people seek to create another format to replace GIF. Image files with PNG format (Portable Network Graphic) meet that, and accept files up to 16 million colors. PNG was born in 1996 and a few years later its proponents announced the death of GIF. However, since then, more than two decades have passed, GIF still exists and holds a dominant role on the web, especially for animated images, because besides GIF, there is currently no image file format that supports it. Good animation support!
What is Giphy?
Giphy is a pun, implying that GIF(y) means there are many GIFs. This is a repository of GIF files, especially animated GIFs, organized into a database so that users can search GIF files by topic or keyword easily. This is an open database, users can log in and upload GIF files created by themselves to enrich this image store.
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Giphy was founded by Alex Chung and Jace Cook in February 2013. When Chung and Cooke first launched Giphy, the site only functioned as a GIF search engine. According to Chung, in the first week of launch Giphy attracted about a million users, searching for 300,000 images.
|Illustration of transparent color: the image on the left of the outside of the bird is white, when combined with the forest image, the white area covers the forest scene; The picture on the right outside of the bird is transparent so the forest scene is still visible|
In August 2013, Giphy expanded its search engine to allow users to post, embed, and share GIFs on Facebook. In early 2014, Giphy integrated with Twitter to allow users to share GIFs by sharing the URL of the GIF.
In October 2016, Giphy released statistics that, every day, there are 100 million active users, serving over 1 billion GIFs, and visitors viewing more than 2 million hours of GIF content. In July 2017, Giphy announced that it had 200 million daily active users between both the API and the website, with around 250 million monthly active users on the site.
You can visit Giphy’s website at http://giphy.com.
Here you can search for animated GIFs by topic or browse through the animations that have been uploaded by day. For each image, you can download it to your computer to use, copy the link to use in other applications, embed it on other websites…
Facebook bought out Giphy
On May 15, Facebook announced that it had bought Giphy outright for $ 400 million. Vishal Shah, Facebook’s VP of Product, said: “Giphy will be joining Facebook as part of the Instagram team. In fact, 50% of Giphy traffic comes from Facebook apps, half of which is from Instagram. Facebook has been using the Giphy API for years, not only in Instagram, but in the Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp apps. Giphy will continue to operate its library (including its global content collection), and Facebook looks forward to investing further in technology, relationships with content partners, and APIs. People can still upload GIFs; API developers and partners will continue to have access to the Giphy API; and users can still upload their GIFs to Giphy’s repository.
A simple comparison is like this: So far, the Facebook boss has rented Giphy’s space to sell some items and pay the monthly rent. Now he decided to buy the premises outright to avoid having to pay monthly.
Thus, Facebook’s outright purchase of Giphy so far has only had an impact on the relationship between the two parties, but for Facebook users, everything is still going on as usual. For those who regularly visit Giphy’s website, too, nothing has changed.
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Maybe in the future with the investment of Facebook, Giphy will have even better improvements, but now the above event proves one thing: GIF is not only not dead, but also an indispensable image format and always is. Popularity.