CompuServe recently announced that it would organize a development effort to establish a new compressed graphics format, called GIF24, as a successor to the current GIF89a specification. CompuServe’s goal, based on input from the graphics community, is that GIF24 be public domain, free of compression patents, and that it will support modern graphics capability including 24-bit images.
Since announcing the GIF24 specification, CompuServe has received a wide array of constructive input from both the Internet and the CompuServe graphics communities. We have been evaluating the many suggestions, as well as pursuing our own investigations, and have looked at the best ideas in great detail.
As a result of those efforts, CompuServe has determined that the PNG (pronounced ‘ping’) draft format, as proposed by a group of Internet graphics experts, closely meets the future requirements for graphics interchange on the Internet, on CompuServe and on other services. Based on current evaluation results, PNG will also be useful for exchange of information between graphics software products.
Therefore, CompuServe is announcing support for the PNG Graphics Specification as basis for the new GIF24 specification. CompuServe will contribute technical staff resources to its completion and to the creation and distribution of reference code implementing the specification.
PNG is based on a data compression technology called ‘deflation’ used in the freeware Info-Zip programs. PNG was developed as free software and is believed to be free of patent infringements. To ensure this, CompuServe is also announcing that it will fund a full and thorough intellectual property review (patent search) on zip, and will make the results publicly available. Jean-loup Gailly, the developer who provided the compression code used in PNG, will be participating in this effort which will ensure that the new GIF24 specification will be totally free and open.
The current draft of the PNG specification has been posted to the CompuServe GO GRAPHSUP Forum, and is available from the Boutell Web server: http://sunsite.unc.edu/boutell/png.html; and the FTP site: godzilli.cs.sunysb.edu.
CompuServe looks forward to continuing to work with the creators of the PNG format and to supporting it in the future as a formal, Internet-wide standard. We continue to solicit input to this process via the mailing address: GIF24@csi.compuserve.com (via the Internet) and CSI:GIF24 via CompuServe Mail.
CompuServe vice-president, Future Technology