RIP JPEG2000

JPEG2000 has shrivelled and not quite died but certainly is not what it promised to be as a replacement for the JPEG image format. Here are the ugly facts:

Graphics Support in the Major Browsers
Web Standard IE8 Firefox 3.x Chrome 1. Opera 9.6 Safari 4
JPEG2000 No No No No No
SMIL Dropped? 3.1 No No No
SVG (see here for browser tests) None 60.4% 61.9% 94.2% 64.2%
Flash Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Browsers used in these tests (except SVG) are the latest available as of March 18th, 2009
IE8 – final release 8.0.60001, Chrome 1.0.154, Firefox 3.07, Opera 9.6, Safari 4 public beta 528.01

But equally ominous is the change in support of JPEG2000 in key photo edit programs:
Adobe Photoshop CS3 & CS4 – write but not read JP2 files with plugin that needs to be installed
Corel Paintshop Pro 12 -read and write still in
Corel Photo Impact – read and write still in
Gimp – no support
Linux GNOME’s GTK++ – read no write
Photoshop Elements 7 – write but not read
Windows GDI – read no write
Xara Xtreme ro 4 – read and write still in
Clearly JPEG2000 has failed to make it where one would think it would have the most support – in Web Browsers where I have seen designers and developers use all sorts of advanced slicing and dicing of images just to gain 5-10% reductions in image size. Given that JPEG2000 delivers in the 15-30% range one would think that at all of the browsers would catch on. But the only way you can use JPEG2000 in a browser is with plugins. Here is the Lizard Tech one for Mac and Windows, and the Linux one for some distributions here.

Why does JPEG2000 continue to languish in browsers while it gains support in a broad array of specialty applications:
Historical archives
Use with scanned and redacted documents.
Digital Cinema for key space savings
Digitization programs in major world libraries
Health Care’s move to digital records
A variety of other large scale imaging applications.
Perhaps the most important is the starting success of JPEG2000 in mobile devices and communication apps where high quality plus minimal size are prerequisites. In these environs it is is easy to ensure that browser/display devices are preloaded with the right JPEG2000 display software. perhaps the role of Microsoft’s IE which had 95% market share during JPEG2000’s introduction period was critical. Microsoft was aware of the demand for JPEG2000 support on their browsers, maybe it just didn’t make the grade … or Microsoft had plans for its own WMP file format. Only the Shadow knows what evil lurks in the minds of Redmond.

3 thoughts on “RIP JPEG2000”

    1. I have been using the Adobe and Corel implementations of JPEG2000 on some very big files and they do not appear to be notably slower than a)simple JPEG high resolutions saves of the same TIF and PNG original files and b)very different in performance. I do not think they use the same Pegasus core base but I frankly do not know. So the speed problem is a bit quixotic. Admittedly my sample of files is small less than 2 dozen.

      As for patent encumbrances – yikes I just do not know – its one of those known unknowns I know I want to stay not know about. .

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