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Working with File Formats

One of the main concerns for any Web page designer is download time. The simple fact is, if your Web page takes too long to download to a user's computer, that user might get bored and simply jump to some other place on the Web. One way in which you can ensure that your page takes a reasonable amount of time to download is to compress your images. Compression is a process that shrinks a file down to essential data only. As you might suspect, compression also takes a bit of the clarity and detail away from the graphic image—although some images are affected very little by compression. As we continue through this chapter, you'll learn to identify the compression method you should use for each image (yes, there is more than one method).

So how do you compress a graphic image? Well, basically, you just save the file in a file format that uses compression. During the saving process, however, you can make some small changes to the way in which the file's compressed. This allows you to retain some additional clarity (while in turn, making the file bigger than it might normally be when fully compressed in that particular format.) Due to the current limitations of Web browsers, only two formats are available for Web graphics: GIF and JPG. Each of these two formats goes about compressing an image in its own way, and as you'll see in this chapter, each format is is a viable choice given a particular type of image.


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