Blink leaders reject animated WebP images in Chrome, for now

The leaders of Google's browser engine project conclude they won't support the animated version of Google's own new image format until performance concerns are resolved.

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Stephen Shankland
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Darin Fisher, engineering leader for the Google Chrome team, speaking at Google I/O 2013.
Darin Fisher, engineering leader for the Google Chrome team, speaking at Google I/O 2013. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Chrome engineers have rained on the parade of Google engineers who want to promote the animated WebP graphics format as an alternative to animated GIF images.

Darin Fisher, engineering leader for the Google Chrome team, turned down a proposal to build animated WebP images into Chrome's Blink browser engine. In a mailing list message Tuesday night, he said skeptical Chrome engineers hadn't been convinced of the performance merits:

It's not clear that we are ready to ship Animated WebP.

For instance, it seems that Animated WebP is trying to be an improvement over Animated GIF, but...the results are not great. Transport size is marginally reduced at the cost of much greater CPU / power usage. That seems like a questionable trade-off...

At any rate, the recommendation of the Blink API Owners is to work on resolving some of these issues with the goal of building more consensus. (Personally, I'm a big fan of finding some way to improve on Animated GIFs, so I wish you success.)

One of the WebP engineers, Urvang Joshi, responded that he thinks "many of the concerns are addressable," and that the WebP engineers will meet with Chrome engineers in person to talk about the issues.

Google uses WebP images in their non-animated form on many parts of its Web site, saving terabytes of networking data transfer burden every day. It's used WebP on its Android Google

One aspect of the debate is whether to skip animated still-image formats and move directly to video technology like WebM.