GIF is an image file format that is commonly used for images in web and sprites for software programs.

A full-form GIF is called ” Graphics Interchange Format .” Unlike the JPEG image format, GIFs use lossless compression which does not reduce the quality of the image.

GIFs store image data using indexed color, which means that a standard GIF image can contain maximum 256 colors.

The original GIF format, also known as “GIF 87a”, was first published in CompuServe in 1987. In 1989, CompuServe released an updated version called “GIF 89a.” This 89a format was quite similar to the 87a specification, but included support from transparent backgrounds and image metadata.

Both formats support animations , for which they allow a stream of images to be stored in a single file. However, 89a format is included for support animation delays.

By the way, it has been more than 25 years since the GIF format was published, but it is still used a lot in the web. Almost all GIFs use 89a format.

Wherever you want, you can find the version of a specific GIF image by simply opening them on a text editor and in which you just have to see the first six characters in the document (GIF87a or GIF89a).

Since GIFs only have 256 colors, they are not ideal for storing digital photos, such as those captured with a digital camera.

If they are applied with a custom color palette and also dithering to smooth out the image, then the photos which are saved still look a bit grainy and unrealistic.

In such a JPEG format, which supports around millions of colors, they are more commonly used to store digital photos.

GIFs suit most buttons and banners in a website, because these types of images typically do not require too many types of colors.

But most web developers prefer to use the new PNG format, as PNGs supports a wider range of colors and also includes an alpha channel.

Alpha channel makes it possible to have a single image with transparency for any webpage background color to make it blend smoothly.

While neither JPEGs nor PNGs support animations, animated GIFs are quite popular on the web as of now.

A GIF image can actually store more than about 256 colors. These are completed in multiple blocks to separate the image, each of which also has unique 256 color palettes.

These blocks are combined into a single rectangular image, which can theoretically produce a “true color” or 24-bit image. But this process is rarely used because the resulting file size in it is much larger than a comparable .JPEG file.

How is “GIF” pronounced?

Steve Wilhite, the creator of the original GIF format, is pronounced “jiff”. At the same time, many people pronounce it “gif”. Both the pronunciation are accepted.

File extension: .GIF

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