As you may be somewhat aware, around here, we love GIFs. But all things must pass, and the GIF is on the verge of being replaced by the GFY. Here’s what you need to know to properly hail our new animated overlords.
First, and most importantly, how do you pronounce it?
Either Jiffy, as in the mass market peanut butter, or Giffy, as in “Anybody who whines that you’re mispronouncing an acronym needs to be crane-kicked.”
OK, so what does it stand for?
GIF Format Yoker. What that name really means is that you can create a looping, silent moving image in both GIF format and HTML5 video; if your browser can use HTML5, you’ll see the video, and if not, you’ll see the GIF.
Wait, that sounds like Vine!
Yep, bar a few differences, it’s the same basic concept.
So why am I going to start using GFY in the future?
Simple: It saves a ton of space. A four-megabyte GIF can be shaved down to roughly 200 kilobytes using GFY. This means that the GIFs don’t chug as they load, that you get the superior color reproduction of video, that your site loads faster, and that you can see the content regardless of what browser you’re using. Oh, and you can also make them bigger.
Wow, that sounds really useful for me killing time when I should be doing something else! Why am I only hearing about it now?!
Because it’s a massive pain in the ass right now, essentially. GFYCat, a useful GFY tool and hub much like Imgur, admits they have to translate each GIF into six different video formats to cover the highest number of browsers and ensure that it works properly.
Keep in mind this has to work not just on your laptop, but also your tablet and your smartphone, all of which have different browsers that handle HTML5 in different ways. Part of the reason GIFs work so well is that the format itself is nearly three decades old; all the complicated technical challenges have been licked by now. The GFY is still getting the kinks worked out and is at the mercy of mercurial browser designers.
But will these problems be resolved?
Absolutely. Again, GFY saves space and its backwards-compatible. Those are two things browser designers love to hear. So you’ll be hearing more about the GFY. Just don’t get in any arguments about how you pronounce it.