PNG File Extension Overview

Like most things in the computing world, it’s all about upgrades. New versions of different applications are constantly being rolled out and improved upon. That’s exactly what happened with Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), as users wanted to improve upon the technology and use non-patented formats.


Introduced by CompuServe all the way back in 1987, GIF was a file extension used in lossless data compression. GIF files exploded a decade later due to the bitmap image format having widespread usage applications on the Internet. Basically, once compressed, the process would show a reduced file size that still retained its visual quality.


In 1996, however, the longstanding GIF met its match. The Internet Engineering Steering Group approved the release of Portable Network Graphics (PNG). (Sometimes referred to as “PNGs Not GIF.”) PNG is a file format based in raster graphics that supports lossless data compression. Because of extended uses and the fact that a patent isn’t directly tied to it, PNG quickly grew into a dominant platform.


Now, PNG is the number one lossless image compression format that gets used on the World Wide Web. In terms of support, PNF covers palette-based images, grayscale and full-color (non-palette-based) images.


It is also possible with PNG to apply a filter method before the DEFLATE is applied. It should be noted, however, that PNG does not support animation at all.