back to article Google kills forthcoming JPEG XL image format in Chromium

A note on Google's bug tracker for the Chromium browser specifies that version 110 won't get JPEG XL support after all. The Chromium browser project is the open source upstream of what later becomes Google's Chrome browser, along with a host of other browsers including Microsoft Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave. The removal of …

  1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    This is bad.

    jpeg-xl offers very good compression and one special feature: It can transcode .JPEG in .JXL lossless, and saving 20% to 30% space. It simply takes the already existing JPEG compression data and transforms it directly into .JXL. Together with better compression, especially when using lossless, it shrank my picture collection about 50% since there were a lot of .PNG which sometimes can be compressed to 20% or their original size. While sill being lossless.

    I even wrote my own .ps1.cmd (powershell wrapped in .cmd) to make it easy to mass-convert whole collection. Simply drand and drop a directory on it, and it goes on. Including a specific workaround since cjxl, the official tool, cannot handle unicode filenames. If there is interest I put it on my github.

    Imagemagic and XnViewMP can convert too, though I don't know whether they use transcoding for .JPEG.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: This is bad.

      This cjxl tool, is it recent ?

      Don't use GitHub, don't know how to check and the various version posts don't have a posted date.

      Because, if cjxl is recent, or at least more recent than unicode, then it is a bloody shame they can't handle it.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: This is bad.

        cjxl 0.7.0 is the most recent from September this year! Though it might be a "Windows cjxl.exe" only bug. I don't use Linux any more at home, since about 2010 or 2011.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: This is bad.

      It seems highly likely that Microsoft's patent has killed the format.

      This is why we can't have nice things.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: This is bad.

        Conspiracy theory much? As the article explains, the format doesn't offer any significant benefits compared to the problems it creates.

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Re: This is bad.

          How is it a conspiracy theory? Did you just read the same article the rest of us did?

          The decision follows long-running legal maneuvering [sic]. In February 2022, Microsoft received a patent over a core technology used in JPEG XL, over a year and a half since its previous rejection and despite protests from industry specialists.

          So, it has been killed because Microsoft have been granted a patent on part of the compression algorithm it uses, meaning it can't be freely open-sourced.

          1. badflorist Bronze badge

            Re: This is bad.

            "...meaning it can't be freely open-sourced."

            No, meaning Google can't abuse it. Don't get me wrong, Microsft is being Mucrosft but, Google is being Google.

            The sacrifice of technology to corporate dollars carries on. God bless modern capitalism.

            1. Loyal Commenter

              Re: This is bad.

              Chromium != Chrome.

              Chromium, the free, open-source project, which is a fork of other free open-source projects, is not under the control of Google.

              Chrome, Google's own web-browser, which is based on Chromium, but with a whole load of proprietary google spyware functionality in it, is built on top of that, in the same way that Microsoft's Edge is.

              It's wholly appropriate that the open-source base project here (Chromium) should not have dependencies on patented or closed-source technology unless entirely unavoidable.

              As an aside, I avoid using either Chrome or Edge as a matter of principle, because I trust neither Google nor Microsoft. If anything, though, I trust google less. Firefox is pretty good these days, and much more privacy-focused.

          2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: This is bad.

            The article doesn't say what you claim it says. The bit you quote definitely doesn't. You've inferred conspiracy theory nonsense.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Alert

    Google has a high project kill-rate. In that line of thought I was hoping for them to discontinue the whole of chrome to save a development buck and undermine competitors. I was sure chrome would be the next in line, not some insignificant details.

    Ah well, better luck next time.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Yeah but, Chrome is for market dominance.

      Google will never let that go.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Is it? Microsoft bought the rights to build on the Chrome code base and delivered the oft-buggy-or-unsupported Edge in its place. I've used edge - when forced to - but I use the whole Google ecosystem from time to time as clients request features supporting cloud services or toolkits that originated with Google.

        Say what you will about Google, there is a tremendous open source code base that found its roots at Google, some forked and improved, others maintained to this day.

        It isn't like being branded a Google Product (tm) guarantees success in people's systems and programmer's minds.

        1. breakfast Silver badge

          Success in programmers' minds

          In my mind, being a Google product mean's it's almost guaranteed to suffer sudden deprecation and become worthless to me. I guess that's their goal, seeing as it's what they keep doing, so fair play to them.

          Luckily they are willing to pass on some of their more useful products to the open source communities or spin out organisations like the Android Foundation rather than simply dropping them altogether, but if it's Google branded, that's a guarantee that you can't count on it as part of your infrastructure.

        2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          [Author here]

          > Microsoft bought the rights to build on the Chrome code base

          Bought? [[Citation needed]]

          Chromium is FOSS. MS can just take it and use it as it wishes, so long as it shares the source code of its modifications.

          And it does. It's here:

          https://github.com/MicrosoftEdge

          So it didn't need to pay a red cent. That is not how this stuff works.

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            Chromium is FOSS. MS can just take it and use it as it wishes

            So how do you square that with the statement that "none of these above browsers will be able to natively render JPEG XL images"? Surely they can just chose to add that functionality themselves.

            Or is that word "natively" performing some unusual task that I had not previously suspected?

            -A.

        3. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Not sure Microsoft bought anything.

          Chromium is a fork of Apple's Safari / Webkit, which in turn is a fork of the KDE Foundation's Konqueror / khtml.

          The proprietary stuff in Chrome is the integration with Google services. Microsoft doesn't use that, they provide their own integrations with Microsoft services.

          1. tekHedd

            "services"

            "The proprietary stuff in Chrome is the integration with Google services."

            So much quicker and easier to say "telemetry", isn't it?

            1. Loyal Commenter

              Re: "services"

              Spyware

            2. mrjayviper

              Re: "services"

              Not all of it are tracking....

  3. Bartholomew Bronze badge
    Meh

    Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

    The Chromium browser has has full AVIF support since 2020, Firefox since 2021 and Apple have added support.

    (netflix has some examples of jpeg vs AVIF vs lossless images from kodak https://netflixtechblog.com/avif-for-next-generation-image-coding-b1d75675fe4)

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

      Yes, I think that's what this is really about. JPEG-XL is "encumbered" but AV1, and anything that is derived from free from any potential legal disputes because of agreements already signed.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

        Oh... PATENT issues!

        Now we see the REAL reason! Thanks for that.

        Hopefully libjpeg will support the newer formats anyway.

        It looks like ImageMagick has a patent agreement from google for JPEG-XL

        https://github.com/ImageMagick/jpeg-xl/blob/main/PATENTS

        (The only way this format can ever become a standard is if the use of patented tech is granted for all open source, In My Bombastic Opinion)

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

          Given that at least one of the patents in question is owned by Microsoft, an agreement with Google doesn't help all that much.

        2. mark l 2 Silver badge

          Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

          (The only way this format can ever become a standard is if the use of patented tech is granted for all open source, In My Bombastic Opinion)

          Or the US fixes their patent system to stop allowing obviously none novel or prior art patents, and a simple process to challenge a patent that doesn't involve you needing an army of lawyers and millions of dollars to fight court battles.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

            "Or the US fixes their patent system to stop allowing obviously none novel or prior art patents, and a simple process to challenge a patent that doesn't involve you needing an army of lawyers and millions of dollars to fight court battles."

            Technically the patent system is fine; it's the court system that's broken. Anyone attempting to enforce a patent that is non-novel should lose to a summary judgment (with prejudice, probably) at the very first instance. Unfortunately the court system does not actually do this as they should.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

              "Technically the patent system is fine; it's the court system that's broken. Anyone attempting to enforce a patent that is non-novel should lose to a summary judgment"

              Shirley your second statement belies the truth of the first? If the system is "fine", then non-novel patents should not need to be challenged as they should mostly be refused at the application process. The problem is the US Patent Office has outsourced the process of checking patent applications to the legal system at much, much higher cost to the economy than doing it themselves. I'd guess an MBA/Beancounter thought up that "budget saving" wheeze.

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

                "If the system is "fine", then non-novel patents should not need to be challenged as they should mostly be refused at the application process."

                No, that's not how the system works. The patent office doesn't check that, can't reasonably be expected to check that, and doesn't need to check that if the court system does its job.

                "The problem is the US Patent Office has outsourced the process of checking patent applications to the legal system at much, much higher cost to the economy than doing it themselves."

                It is not only cheaper that way around - if the court system does its job - but arguably the only way the job is even possible. The cost would be insane, assuming sufficient experts could even be hired. It's a lot cheaper and easier to make sure there is no incentive to file such patents in the first place, and then let the nonsense patents stand unless someone tries to use them to extort - I think that's a fair term in the circumstances - licensing fees.

            2. JacobZ

              Anti-SLAPP for patents Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

              Sounds like you are advocating for a Patent equivalent of the anti-SLAPP process that exists in many US states as a fast and effective deterrent to abusive libel or slander suits.

              A SLAPP lawsuit is one where the abuser hopes to shut down criticism because the other party cannot afford the expensive and lengthy legal process to defend their freedom of speech. Anti-SLAPP laws provide a rapid resolution of obviously abusive lawsuits with, in many cases, costs imposed on the plaintiff.

              Something similar for patents would allow people to quickly and cheaply challenge obviously flawed patents, and again penalize the patent holder if, for example, they failed to disclose well-known prior art in their patent application.

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: Anti-SLAPP for patents Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

                I'm not sure that's even required; as far as I know if the cases were properly adjudicated the existing system should be quite capable of doing what is required. The problem is that judges keep refusing to rule on common-sense issues without expert testimony, and even when they get it are quite capable of deciding that things that are abundantly clear need to go to trial instead of being summarily dismissed.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

      Are there any good command line tools to convert to AVIF? Most notably for: Run batch conversion, compare filesize old vs new, keep smaller.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

        Best so far: XnViewMP / XnConvert. Not command line, but best result in compression when using lossless and can take everything as input, seems to beat JPEG-XL in quite a few cases. Compare filesize can be done afterwards with a second job. Well, then on to a mass-test-job!

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

          Aw, forget it. AVIF is only better than JXL for a specific input type. Greyscale comic digital (.PNG, not scan) is such an example, but it depends there too. All others: JXL wins.

          1. Bartholomew Bronze badge

            Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

            I am curious for AVIF did you untick the two "lossless" checkboxes (Quantization for color and Quantization for Alpha), and set the "speed" to 0 (minimum filesize) ?

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

              They were ticked + löossless. But it was even worse: I accidentally hit a directory which was .jpeg to .jxl transcoded to test on which, upon doing a real jxl encoding, jxl won against avif. So many pictures, and I must hit that directory for the first avif try.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

        I think AVIF is still in development but `libavif` is out and about.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So will MS now implement JPEG-XL into Edge (their variant of Chromium)?

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      They could do, but since Edge's market share is a small fraction of that of Chrome (utterly dominant with around two-thirds of the market), it's unlikely many sites are going to bother supporting JPEG XL regardless.

  5. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    too bad

    I assumed they were being dropped due to limited benefits (yet another format isn't worth it if it was saving like 2%). But per Jou's post... big savings to be had and even a method to shrink existing jpegs significantly without (further) loss? Yes please. Well apparrently no... oh well.

    1. Nick Stallman

      Re: too bad

      The article missed any mention of AVIF. Why add another format when an existing format already in all current browsers is better?

      Dropping it makes perfect sense. No mystery here.

      1. TVU

        "Why add another format when an existing format already in all current browsers is better?"

        Perhaps because they wanted to confirm the validity of the XKCD Standards cartoon?

        https://xkcd.com/927/

      2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: too bad

        Just tested AVIF vs JXL for lossless conversion. JXL wins most of the time in file size. Only with very specific input files AVIF wins.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: too bad

          JXL won't work on most phones. Or chromebooks, older PCs, etc. But some people prefer warped conspiracy theories to reality.

          1. Pinjata
            WTF?

            Re: too bad

            This is plain misinformation.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: too bad

              It isn't misinformation. Do you think you get higher compression free? The tradeoffs have been the same for decades: either lossiness or increased computation.

              1. Pinjata

                Re: too bad

                That's not what you said.

                AVIF is out of the picture as well? There will be now technological development from this point forward?

                1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                  Re: too bad

                  It is what I said: JXL won't work on most phones or older PCs; it is too computationally expensive.

                  "AVIF is out of the picture as well? There will be now technological development from this point forward?"

                  Whut? All I said is that JXL is... see above.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: too bad

          Given that AVIF is based the lossy AV1 codec, it shouldn't be expected to be the best lossles image format out there. But I suspect that well over 98% of people's imaging requirements involve lossy compression, I don't think most people will notice let alone care, especially with hardware acceleration, even if that means more 8k cat video frames.

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Patents killed it?

    Did it?

    People may want to have a look at the original jpeg format (and mpeg for thst matter) and see how many patented parts that used. Even more interestingly, look at who protected it from a patent troll.

    Its not always as clear cut as itvseems.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Pinjata
    Unhappy

    Lossless conversion from JPEG to JXL with a 20% reduction in size would be a feature guaranteeing implementation in all browsers. Massive savings for web providers, I'm guessing multiple terrabytes of JPEG data is transmitted daily.

    The problems IMO is the slow progress finishing the format. No progress in two years, not able to build source on windows (I've tried).

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      The problem is that it doesn't outperform rivals, and it doesn't work with lower end hardware like (even quite expensive, new) phones. It's easy to pack stuff up small at the expense of being unable to unpack it without a high end desktop processor.

      1. Pinjata

        I have not experimented with this but according to some docs it's faster than AVIF.

        https://jpegxl.io/articles/faq/#single-coredecodespeed

        IMO the killer feature is the lossless transformation from old JPEG to XL. This means that web sites / hosts can convert images without considering quality loss.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          "I have not experimented with this but according to some docs it's faster than AVIF."

          Yes, it is - at least by some metrics*. I wrote badly; I meant it a) is outperformed by rivals, in terms of quality etc, and b) is much slower than JPG to decode.

          *It gets complicated when you are comparing different quality settings and so-on. I'm not sure which of AVIF and JXL is faster at the settings that would be commonly used if it were ever to be adopted. Doesn't seem like either will be, though, so it's a bit of a moot point.

    2. Loyal Commenter

      Massive savings for web providers

      Massive savings? 20% on static images? The last time I checked, half the web has lots of pointless auto-playing videos that use hundreds of times as much bandwidth and storage than static images. This is quite clearly not a video codec we're talking about.

      1. Pinjata

        Still terabytes daily I recon.

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Terabytes out of exabytes. If you want to look at web site efficiency, my first port-of-call (aside from the full-page autoplaying videos on the landing page) would be to look at the habit for web developers to pull in whole JavaScript dependency chains in order to use one or two functions from them, and do some serious rationalising of that. Of course, you might find that my time is more expensive than the cost savings you'd get back, unless the code was particularly egregious.

          Donald Knuth wasn't wrong when he said, in 1968, that "The real problem is that programmers have spent far too much time worrying about efficiency in the wrong places and at the wrong times; premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming.”

          I can't claim to have read the whole of the book that quote is from (Bill Gates would give me a job if I had), but I do own a copy of the first three volumes somewhere...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even if it were 50% savings, I wouldn’t call it massive. Image storage and transmission requirements are tiny compared to videos.

      That’s why JPEG and PNG have been “good enough” for so long.

      Heck - even h264 is good enough for 1080p.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Heck - even h264 is good enough for 1080p."

        That pushing the analogy a bit. X265 IME compresses the file size at least 50% more compared to x264. When you are talking movie length 1080p, that's significant.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Na, when you are really looking close to get the same quality with h264 in h265 you have to disable strong-intra-smoothing and sao (for example with ffmpeg -x265-params strong-intra-smoothing=0:no-sao=1). Else faces look a lot younger, or young people faces look like plastic dolls.

          The result win over h264 in the end is, at average, about 15%, and in some cases even a bit larger than h264.

          The ACTUAL advantage of h265 is the official support for HDR and the official support for larger resolutions, and the official support for higher compression settings since the decoding hardware got faster. H264, if you use the official predefined profiles, is limited by those old chips which cannot handle everything that is actually possible with h264 in terms of compression and quality at a specific bitrate.

  9. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    Just as an aside,

    I really hate WebP. Or, probably to be more accurate, I hate what some people do with it. For example, The Guardian uses it to horrifically over-compress images (such as this one, this one, or even this supposedly high-quality "big picture" one (you'd think they'd at least get it right for that sort of thing)). The artefacts are obvious and horrible, and they particularly mess with the subtleties of skin texture. They really can't be saving that much bandwidth, surely? In any case, they've hit completely the wrong balance between quality and file size: it just makes people look weird.*

    *Okay, fair enough, that last one might not be completely their fault.

    1. Loyal Commenter

      Re: Just as an aside,

      I feel compelled to point out that no matter how much we dislike someone we shouldn't be judging them for looking like a Skeksi, they can't help the way they were born. We can justifiably hate them for their dog-whistle far-right political rhetoric instead.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Just as an aside,

        Dog whistle? It's straight-up far right rhetoric now. 'Invasion'?

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Re: Just as an aside,

          Yup, the "invasion" rhetoric is a definite far-right dog-whistle. Yes, it's arguable that it goes well beyond the meaning of that phrase, but unfortunately, the right-wing press has been normalising it for the last, well, forever... (I was going to say last decade, then thought, well, maybe two decades, then thought, well, actually, think back to the '70s and "rivers of blood", and then further... Oh dear, we never learn.)

  10. John Savard

    Confused

    If Microsoft has a patent on a core technology JPEG XL requires, then clearly nobody would be able to use it. But we already have a new image format that offers a major improvement over the original JPEG; JPEG 2000. It is kind of slow, though, although it offers a high level of compression. Whatever happened to that?

    1. Pinjata

      Re: Confused

      Patents killed JPEG 2000... However since 2019 it's safe to use. Probably.

      And it's pretty crappy with only 20% gain on lossy compression. Compare that with the lossless transformation from JPEG to JXL that offers 15-20% improvement. JXL lossy is better in all regards.

      Finally the implementation I tried were glacial slow.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Confused

        Early implementations are often slow, as the emphasis is on correctness over speed.

        And as JPEG2000 got killed by patents very early on, nobody bothered trying to improve it.

        As it stands, I very much doubt anyone would go back and try as there are several newer compression schemes that give similar gains.

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