In this installment of Alphabet Soup we're going to look at GIF - what it is and how it's used. We will also tread into the dangerous waters as we question how it should be pronounced.
GIF is an acronym that stands for Graphics Interchange Format. It's an image format that was developed back in the Stone Age (1987) by an ancient corporate culture (CompuServe). The new format allowed (hold onto your hats) images in color!
The format allows for a palette of up to 256 colors and support animations with each frame having its' own available palette.
The image format became popularized for animation purposes when Netscape Navigator 2.0 added the ability to loop animated GIFs.
The paette limitations in the GIF format make it unsuitable for full color photographs, but perfect for simpler images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color. While GIF support animation it does not support sound, so it is not a suitable replacement for video.
GIFs have of course become the norm in recent years for all sorts of memes. So much so that popular platforms across all kinds of devices offer GIFs as a means of communication.
If you are looking at the format for business purposes stick to using it for line art that uses a limited number of colors. GIF supports transparency as well so it can useful for layering over other content.
As GIF exploded in popularity, especially for memes, numerous websites emerged to collect and offer GIF images for use. Among the most popular are Giphy, Imgur, and Gfycat. Tools for creating your own GIFs abouns as well. EZGif, ImgFlip and GifMaker are popular for this.
This is where we lose friends and loved ones. Within our office we have solidarity, but that's not always the case. This has been such a heated issue that even the White House got in on the controversy weighing in on the side of a hard G sound instead of J. The inventor of the format insists it should be said with the J sound, but once the cat is out of the bag it's hard to control what it does and it seems the interwebs to this day still debate it.