News and History of the PNG Development Group from 1999
Herein lie news items and historical stuff primarily of interest to the
Portable Network Graphics Development Group itself. Feel free to poke
around even if you're not a member, though. Note that some of the links,
particularly the older ones, are broken; in some cases this is explained by
later entries. Other links (CompuServe, tcg.arl.mil) have fallen prey to
reorganizations or upgrades; should they ever reappear, the entries below
will be updated as needed.
Keep in mind that this is history here...
- current - see here
- 8 December 1999 - Sean
Donahue's article, GIF Tiff, appears in the December 1999 issue ("The Next
1000 Years") of Business
2.0 magazine. It gives an executive overview--literally--of
GIF, PNG, and the Unisys mess. (A text-only
version of the article is also available.)
- 7 December 1999 - sRGB, the Standard RGB Color Space, becomes
an international standard of
the International Electrotechnical
Commission. (The actual spec, IEC 61966-2-1, must be purchased.)
- 1 December 1999 - Lincoln D. Stein's article Fugitive From
Justice appears in Web Techniques. It's another discussion of Unisys's actions,
told from the personal perspective of the author of the GD.pm
Perl module. PNG is discussed at length, of course, and while there are
a few inaccuracies, the overall story is on the money (so to speak).
- 29 November 1999 - Version 3.0 of the DoD's Joint Technical Architecture standard is approved and signed.
As noted in the 5 November 1999 news entry, it mandates PNG and
JPEG as the only allowed formats for non-geospatial still images.
- 5 November 1999 - Burn All GIFs
Day arrives, together with InternetNews coverage by Elizabeth Clampet (Webmasters Push for Switch from GIF) and Brian McWilliams
webcast), and news that the US Department of Defense is proposing
to mandate PNG usage as part of version 3.0 of its Joint Technical
(Unfortunately, there's lots
and lots of other, completely unrelated news today: Cobalt Networks has the third biggest IPO in history; Apple wins an iMac ruling; Intel wins an antitrust ruling; and, of course, Microsoft suffers a major defeat
in its own ongoing antitrust
trial. So Burn All GIFs Day got less exposure than it might
otherwise have had.)
- 19 October 1999 - Joe Gillespie publishes an editorial in
Web Page Design for Designers
entitled, PNG -
The 'Other' Graphics File Format. Unfortunately, it contains
numerous errors ("PNG was developed by a consortium of companies,"
"gamma is not implemented in any of the browsers," etc.), and, as is
typical of designer-oriented articles that rely on Photoshop for
compression tests, it portrays PNG compression as significantly worse
than GIF. Joe also misses the point of 16-bit channel depths (namely,
high-precision data storage for film, medical and scientific
applications), overlooks PNG's ability to do variable transparency in
palette images (and the corresponding lack of browser support), and
fails to make the distinction between saving low-color images in palette
mode (fully lossless) and color-reducing high-color or truecolor images
(lossy). But JPEG gets abused almost as badly, so at least there's some
- 15 October 1999 - libpng 1.0.5 is released. This version adds
x86/MMX assembler code that improves decoding performance considerably
(25-30% overall improvement seen in viewing applications, including
file I/O and display overhead; 2x to 4x improvement claimed for just
the modified functions), but only for Visual C++ on Win32 platforms.
(A gcc/gas version is in development and will be included in the next
release.) A contrib directory also has been added, currently
containing just the demo code from
Greg's book but expected to expand in a
- 11 October 1999 - Paul Anderson's two-page article, Make Pages Go
PNG, is published at CNET's Builder.com site. It covers an impressive variety of client-side
approaches to displaying PNGs portably--none of which works in every
browser in every possible case, but some of which are quite clever.
All of the approaches were tested on a wide selection of platforms and
- 8 October 1999 - Byte magazine publishes Andy Patrizio's
two-page article, Hey, Unisys: Time To Burn All Gifs. It covers just about
what you'd expect (see the 29 August 1999 entry below) and
provides Unisys's official word on the matter.
- 2 October 1999 - Another ISO PNG meeting takes place, this time
in Washington, D.C., to discuss the results of the 2nd Committee Draft
ballot (see the 10 May 1999 entry below). Glenn Randers-Pehrson
and Chris Lilley report that all went well, and a final ISO PNG draft
should be ready by 1 December.
- 27 September 1999 - The PNG home site (that's us!) is a Featured
Site at About.com's Graphics Software
site. Alas, the cute little button is an animated GIF...
- 21 September 1999 - The Open eBook Initiative releases version 1.0 of the Open eBook Publication Structure
Specification. This is a publishing-industry standard for
electronic books, and it specifies precisely two image formats: PNG
and JPEG/JFIF. (Let's hope it does better than VRML97 did!)
- 13 September 1999 - The second half of Evan Liebovitch's article,
The Fast Track to GIF Irrelevancy, is published in ZDNet's
Enterprise Linux. It
includes a couple of tiny inaccuracies (PNG is already in the midst of
the ISO/IEC standardization process and will become an actual ISO/IEC
standard soon; Microsoft's assertion about MSIE's lack of PNG
support refers only to its use as a local file viewer, not as a
web browser) and one omission (Macromedia's Fireworks 2.0 is at
least as good as the GIMP in its PNG support--possibly better--as far as
Greg knows). It also quotes Greg.
The first half of the article was entitled
We Eat, Sleep and Drink Greed and discussed GIF and Unisys.
- 9 September 1999 - Still more Unisys fallout: Joe Barr's
article, Open Source Graphics with PNG, is published in LinuxWorld. It
quotes Greg a lot.
It also implies that Greg may have contributed more to defining the PNG
format than was actually the case, and the bit about GIF animation
should have said 1995, not 1996.
- 29 August 1999 - More Unisys fallout: Eric Raymond writes a
article about the $5000 Unisys fee and Burn All GIFs Day; it generates nearly
half a megabyte of heated discussion, flames, and the usual Slashdot
blend of insight and cluelessness (tending more toward the latter,
- 27 August 1999 - Lou Grinzo's kind review of PNG: The Definitive Guide appears in Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer
Books and is reprinted at Barnes and Noble.
- 23 August 1999 - Unisys triggers yet another wave of hate mail
with its new demand (as of 26 July) that web sites
pay a minimum of $5000 if they are using any GIF images
created with an unlicensed product. Keep up the good work, guys! Soon
everybody will be using PNG.
- 13 August 1999 - Greg's follow-up article on the status of PNG,
PNG Gaining Acceptance, is published in Web Review.
- 11 August 1999 - Version 1.2 of the PNG
specification is released. This version differs from 1.1 only in
the inclusion of the international text chunk, iTXt, which was approved
earlier this year (see the 9 February 1999 entry below).
A corresponding version of the extensions document (i.e., with iTXt
removed) is also released.
- 6 August 1999 - Greg spots the PNGmobile! Yes, it's true: a
white Audi sedan with California license [PNGMOBL] is spotted heading
south on 85 in the San Francisco Bay Area today. Such dedication to
the cause, sniff...truly admirable.
- 25 June 1999 - O'Reilly's press
release hits BusinessWire.
- 24 June 1999 - Greg's book is out! Yes, indeedy, the first two
copies of PNG: The Definitive Guide
showed up on Greg's doorstep today, and not coincidentally, the complete
source code to the book's three demo programs also made an appearance
(see the link above). Oh, what a feeling.
- 18 June 1999 - BeOS R4.5 is released with a
PNG Translator (a.k.a. "datatype"), making it the first production
operating system to support PNG natively. In addition, the bundled
NetPositive browser (version 2.1) now supports PNG, which is a first on
the BeOS platform.
- 22 May 1999 - PC
Magazine's 8 June issue includes an excellent overview article
by William Robert Stanek entitled Bitmaps and Vectors: Web Graphics Evolve. It provides a
good summary of current PNG status (though it was apparently written
before IE 5.0 for Windows was released), and it also looks at some of
the up-and-coming vector image formats.
- 19 May 1999 - The KDE folks
interest in switching to PNG format for KDE 2 icons. Sounds good to
- 10 May 1999 - The ISO
2nd Committee Draft ballot begins today and ends on 10 September.
This ballot is open to all PNG Group members! Comments sent to
the general PNG mailing list (see the Other
Links page for subscription info) will be relayed to the editor.
Editing and proofreading requirements delayed the vote considerably
relative to the schedule mentioned in the 9 January 1999
entry below; now the results of the vote (returned comments from the
National Bodies and the W3C liaison, including the PNG Development Group)
will be discussed in Washington, D.C., on 2-3 October 1999. Then
it is expected to progress to the Final Draft International Standard
stage, followed eventually (2000) by promotion to Internation Standard
status (ISO/IEC 15948). Note once again that, by prior agreement with
the W3C (and, indirectly, the PNG group), the PNG standard will remain
freely available, much like the VRML97 specification.
- 4 May 1999 - PNG support has finally been added to Java! At
least, it's been added to an internal version, according to the relevant entry in the Java Bug Parade. Presumably it will show
up in the next major release, probably JDK 1.3 (first major update
to the Java 2 SDK?). Note that this is distinct from PNG support in the
Java Advanced Imaging API (JAI), though it's probably related. Thanks
to Tov Are Jacobsen, Joshua R. Poulson, Sean Russell and Alex Rosen for
- 22 April 1999 - The April issue of Digital Output includes
an interview with Jill Morton entitled, Coloring the World Wide
Web. It has some good coverage of our favorite image format, PNG.
- 11 April 1999 - Both Greg's PNG: The
Definitive Guide and John Miano's Compressed Image
File Formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, XBM, BMP are already listed at
Amazon.com! The two books will be
available in June and July, respectively. Here's a link to the home page
(and source code) for John's book:
And here are two web pages for Greg's book:
- 18 March 1999 - Greg's The Story
of PNG article finally appears in Slashdot (more than three weeks after having been submitted). It
amounts to an update on the current status of PNG and will probably show
up here as a new page eventually (pngstatus.html, maybe?). In other
news, Internet Explorer 5.0 was released with essentially no improvements
in PNG or OBJECT support. Sigh.
- 9 February 1999 - The iTXt chunk, for Unicode UTF-8 encoded
international text in arbitrary languages, is approved. It will become
part of the PNG 1.2 specification, probably toward the end of 1999; in
the meantime it is included in the PNG Extensions document. See the
PNG technical documentation page.
- 14 January 1999 - libpng 1.0.3 is released. This version just
fixes various bugs, including one that has been bothering the Imlib/gtk+
folks for a while. It also adds a Y2K statement for completeness.
- 9 January 1999 - An ISO PNG meeting takes place in San Jose,
wherein the results of the four-month Final Committee Draft vote and
comments of the National Bodies are discussed. Because the PNG 1.1
changes were not part of this vote, a second four-month FCD voting
period will now take place, ending just before the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC24
meeting in Seoul, Korea, at the beginning of June. Then, with luck,
PNG will progress to the Draft International Standard stage, and some
months later (early 2000?) it should become ISO/IEC 15948, an official
International Standard. Note that, by prior agreement with the W3C
(and, indirectly, the PNG group), the PNG standard will remain freely
available, much like VRML97.
Here are some related PNG pages at this site:
Last modified 27 January 2013.
Copyright © 1995-2013 Greg Roelofs.