GIF vs PNG support in Flash Player

There has been an interesting thread on Flash Coders over the past couple of days discussing whether the Flash Player should support dynamically loading GIFs and / or PNGs.

So, which would you prefer? If we could only add one format, would you prefer we add support for dynamically loading GIFs or dynamically loading PNGs? Why?

Post your thoughts in the comments.

140 Responses to GIF vs PNG support in Flash Player

  1. Peter says:

    If I had to choose between the two I’d certainly opt for PNG with full alpha-channel support.

  2. steve w says:

    Seems like a no-brainer for PNG.But could I be overlooking something on GIF? You can’t animate a PNG.

  3. eokyere says:

    as steve, i’ll think that’s a no-brainer…png = everything gif + greater color depth + greater compression – lzw bs (may or may not be a problem these days) – animation (who needs it anyway… we are talking about flash here 🙂

  4. DevilDude says:

    png with mng support would be best for animation i think, gif has way too much patent crap and is limited to 256 colours

  5. PNG all the way. Alpha channels 🙂

  6. aral says:

    GIF is dead — long live PNG 🙂

  7. Nahuel says:

    without a doubt png, 8 Alpha channels 🙂

  8. spider says:

    PNG. period

  9. malavoie says:

    GIF… who needs an image format that limits to 256 colors and (laff) for which you gotta pay a license ? I mean, we’re not in 1991 ! open-source, colors, alpha,

  10. PaulWeston says:

    Thumbs up for PNG here too

  11. Scott Boms says:

    Add another to the PNG list for me.

  12. Jensa says:

    PNG. No need to pay Compuserve here…J

  13. There are tons existing GIF files out there.GIF has animation! 256 colors and 1 bit transparency are adequate for most purposes.GIF is a format that has proved itself over the years.I don’t know about patent issues. Heard that it expired at some places.What we need is dynamically loading some lossless stuff and GIF is the way to go.And we will surely have dynamic PNG support sooner or later. If we don’t have GIF support now, probably we will not have it later.On server side, there are many solutions to convert PNG files easily to SWF. Hey, it’s open, you can even do it yourself. This is not the case for GIF files…Have I mentioned that there are tons existing GIF files out there?***Well, that’s all I can think of why GIF might be better.PNG is definitely a better format. Probably won’t add much to the Player size, because support for it is already there.Unless someone has a specific need for GIF files, PNG is without doubt the better choice.Best regards,Burak

  14. Brett says:

    I would have to say thumbs up to PNG also as I find myself rarely (if ever) using GIF these days. However I would have to agree with Rob Edgar that RegEx is an absolutely essential update thats required for Flash. So often now I come across a situation where I need this in Flash and in the end I either have to resort to some hack or not use Flash at all. Just about every other language I use supports this “standard” so it would make sense for Flash to as well.

  15. argonauta says:

    png, png, png! 🙂

  16. John says:

    Is it me or does anyone else find it odd that Fireworks saves to PNG and now we’re being asked which should be supported by FP.Tie the PNG bow!!!!

  17. Graeme says:

    png forever!

  18. Jiagao says:

    PNG,with aplha channels

  19. weo3 says:

    Um, who needs a freakin’ (STILL patented) gif with animation, when we’re animating better in Flash anyway? Helloooooooo get rid of the crappy animation format (gif).PNG! For once, it’d be nice to use PNGs without the continued imbecilic ignorance of IE for new formats…..

  20. solomon71 says:

    PNGs, for sure.

  21. Michael Williams says:

    And if we said that PNG support would add ~100k to the player size and GIF less than 2k. Which would you pick? (BTW: These are realistic estimates)

  22. If you put it that way Michael, then GIF suddenly seems alot more attractive.Before adding anything to the browser player, I’d like to see Flash 7 running on PDA’s and smart phones. Only then can we talk about true Ubiquity. For the latest phones we’re still restricted to Flash 4 (!)Oh, and for all you image requirements in Flash try the imgswf proxy (gif, png, tif, bmp :O)

  23. The problem with png is that there are really big, when exporting in photoshop. Flash reduces the filesize from png very good.The second problem is, that flash computes AND displays the alpha channel (as seen on 16bit displays), even they are real transparent. It decreases the player performance very high.My workaround is everytime importing a png, break apart and cut the total transparent alphachannel by magic wand.So, if I can import png dynamically, the Flashplayer has to recognize the total transparent pixel.Otherwise its useless for me :o)

  24. Well, I think it’s been said already. But it’s gotta be PNG. 🙂

  25. PNGs!Another one, not in the list but a b*tch to explain to users that just work on the ‘filling the website’ side: progressive JPGs.

  26. Alex says:

    PNGs no doubt.i beleive there are a lot of stuff that need to be included in flash player.i have also noticed in the articles that the main reason why for example XML namespaces are not supported is because MM wants to keep the player size smal.. Well not bad.. but they also want it to be used in Enterprise-level applications.. Why wouldn’t they invent an ability to extend functionality by plugging-in dlls or something like that?and the other big problem is the performance issues.

  27. PNG!and a plea for Progressive JPEG support!t

  28. dasso says:

    PNG of course.

  29. topachou says:

    PNG without any doubt.Who need GIF in Flash nowdays ?

  30. kali says:


  31. Ave Rok says:

    PNG!!!it’s time to alpha channels!!

  32. PNG w/ Alpha Channel

  33. JesterXL says:

    Although GIF is no longer needing a license, there are many more GIF’s out there, and many more will be created… the future is PNG.So, PNG.

  34. dominick says:

    unless the animated gif was allowed, then i see no competition from gif.i say png.

  35. Steve says:

    PNG – without a doubt. If nothing else it would help push this file type into more browsers. If we are going to be adding some size to the player, increase performance while your at it:)S

  36. I agree that PNG is the format of the future and being able to dynamically load PNGs at runtime would be a major improvement to the player.However, being able to dynamically load GIFs would allow us to take advantage of the massive amounts of GIF files that exist.Although either one would be great. PNG is the future.

  37. andy makely says:

    GIF, please. I BEG YOU.GIF images are already out there. So many tools already support it. So many folks have libraries of GIFs that have been used in existing online product catalogs and e-Commerce apps.It is also true that there are so few good utilities to batch convert lots of GIFs to SWF for use in dynamic image-loading Flash projects.I agree that PNG is a better format, but the fact that GIF is so popular cannot be ignored.

  38. PNG – why even ask the question?!?

  39. Mike Britton says:

    PNG – lotsa colors, good transparency.

  40. Zárate says:

    PNG for sure!Better image quality + Open Source.PNG will be as popular as GIF doing things like that.What if tomorrow nobody at Compuserve wants to improve (if is possible) the GIF format? PNG just can get better…Bye!

  41. beastx says:

    i’m love png !!!!!!!

  42. ugly-naked says:

    png, or png… or png.. maybe png… yes, png… PNG!!!:P

  43. Josh Dura says:

    My question, is why (if GIF is only 2k) can’t you add both formats? I would understand if they were each 100k, but whats the difference between 100k, and 102k?

  44. name says:

    gif – if I want to use the same graphics for seperate flash and html implementations of a page/app it would be nice to use the same set of jpeg/gif images.

  45. Chad Udell says:

    PNG with alpha channels, please!

  46. Native Regular Expressions

  47. GMX says:

    PNG 🙂

  48. TheOm3ga says:

    What about both of them? lol, not, please, only png with full features 😀

  49. Querube says:

    PNG !! Because, transparents and definitions color is better …well …. today i put png into swf and load swf with loadmovie ….that’s allcya

  50. Damon says:

    PNG Rules GIF is dead!!

  51. I agree with Josh. GIF is already supported in Central so I’m guessing that you have a pretty good understanding on how to implement it. What’s 2k on top of 100k?

  52. Kent D. says:

    How about SVG??? I know I could use that support on my current project!

  53. zoomfreddy says:


  54. Michael Williams says:

    GIF is a much smaller codec than PNG. Adding GIF support to the flash player would be orders of magnitude less complex than supporting all of the features of PNG. This is why PNG would add significantly more player size than GIF since the Flash Player already has code that can be leveraged for GIF, this is not true of PNG despite what some may think. You cannot argue that one leads to another since they are very different formats. I don’t understand the arguement “what is 2k on top of 100k”. They are not additive in the code and would be treated as two distinct features each with its own trade offs in player size.

  55. nodani says:

    PNG PLEASE!better for us, better for the client…

  56. kadazuro says:

    my vote goes for png.also it would be usefull allow us to dynamically configure compression, and some render paramsallow smoothingcompression (gif/png, jpg)

  57. Jeremy Fuksa says:

    Definitely PNG.

  58. zeh says:

    GIF is dead. Compuserve can eat it.PNG all the way. It’d do everything we ever needed.

  59. Jeremiah C. says:

    PNG please.While I understand the argument that there are so many existing GIFs in the world, I do not believe that such a legacy format should prohibit the future development of Flash.

  60. John F. says:

    Legacy…. that is the key word. Flash isn’t just about legacy, it’s about cutting edge technology. Support legacy when needed, but PNG is so much better featured!

  61. >> I don’t understand the arguement “what is 2k on top of 100k”.I read your other reply as if you were comparing 100k PNG support vs 2k GIF support; asking us to joust an opinion based on that. So I guess I was just saying that if you add PNG support whats the harm in adding GIF support based on the argument of player size (where my assumptions of ‘easy’ implementation were correct).

  62. Gif is not totally unsimilar to indexed pngs so I don’t think it would be too hard to reuse a bit of code there? They both compress with the same LZ (right?) and afaik that is already in the player, so I think you could also knock off quite a bit on that 100k, no? Maybe not.Mostly though I think that while full gif support (sans animation) is essential, png support could be partial. People would use gifs to load existing web images, often not within their control, so robust support is essential. Png would more likely be used to load in alpha’d lossless images dynamically. These could ignore most of the fancy png options, leaving indexed, 24bit alpha, and maybe greyscale, with filtering and lz compression — ignoring gamma, text, interlaced etc.I think what people really want with png is a way of dynamically loading full alpha images, so full support isn’t nessecary, where with gifs it would be existing content, so without full support it would be ‘prograssive jpg’ issues all over again. Gif animation though could just be frame one, who needs that in flash…So, yeah, both, sort of : ). But certainly not 100k for png if that is the final choice! Both of these are more ease of use issues rather than making new things possible – and 100k for ease of use seems crazy…Cheers,Robin

  63. vicho says:

    pngmore colorsalpha

  64. daat says:

    pngbeatiful 32 bits

  65. Michael Williams says:

    Please disregard my previous message. I was misinformed about the potential player size implications of PNG support. Good to know people in the community know what they are talking about!

  66. Emiliano Velasco says:

    my vote goes for png.png, png and png! 🙂

  67. Hector Centeno says:

    i vote for PNGsuper PNG rules !!!!

  68. Funny how some people see GIF as so evil. Anyway, I’d prefer PNG… no doubt. But like most of the others on this thread, I say so based on my own geekish interests. I’m not so sure clients really need PNG as much as GIF. I think if the question is “what would help you make cool applications” then PNG is the answer. If the question is “what will help Flash Player the most”… I don’t know. I think GIF is worth consideration.Agreed with the progressive JPGs too… this comes up in my daily work. If you think JPG regular and JPG progressive is an issue consider why: lots of people are making the JPGs. Consider too that PNG is not exactly a standard format and I would not be surprised if Flash player’s support varied based on the particular PNG flavor.I just don’t think it’s as easy a question as some people seem to say–I’d still rather have PNG.

  69. Steve says:

    I know you don’t want to nickel-dime the player size up, but what’s the issue with adding 100K to the player footprint? Isn’t the small footprint, among other things, cause for performance bottleneck? I’m not onboard for making Flash do native realtime 3D display, but there are some things that totally make sense for a footprint tradeoff.S

  70. mike chambers says:

    > but what’s the issue with adding 100K to the player footprint?because we would like to add other features to the player than just dynamically loading gifs and pngs.>Isn’t the small footprint, among other things, cause for performance bottleneck?No, not necessarily.mike

  71. Why do we have to choose? :-)Please solicit opinions beyond the developer community — I would really like to see PNG support, but honestly, when my clients upload a file and wonder why it doesn’t show up in a Flash image viewer, it’s a GIF, not a PNG.

  72. mike chambers says:

    I never said we would only support one or the other (or either). However, I wanted to get feedback on the relative importance of each.Also, this weblog is only one of many ways we get feedback from users.mike

  73. Cristalab says:

    PNG Off course

  74. Keith says:

    PNG. No question.

  75. sash says:

    i’am prefer PNG

  76. didi says:

    png, but only if it’s not adding 100k to the player, totally stupid to add so much data just for the png support.

  77. William Dent says:

    PNG is by far the superior choice. But I am with everyone on increasing the size of the flash player to much. Additionally adding alpha support would be great. Thanks for the opportunity to voice this.

  78. Tek says:

    Don’t mind if it adds at least 200Kb to the player … PNG support is more essential than any other fonctionnality.

  79. R.I.P. says:

    yeah PNG support is the priority.

  80. sirocus says:

    the PNG is better quality than GIF. I’m prefer PNG.

  81. chris says:

    While the development community may want to push forward and use the ‘better’ PNG format, 99% of our clients have never heard of it. I need to support what they’re using now – JPG and GIF – rather than what I think they should be using.For the moment we convert any GIFs or progressive JPGs to non-progressive JPGs via our CMS. But this becomes problematic depending on the client’s hosting requirements – ie. an image converter isn’t always available on the server.So if you’re going to add anything, in my book, it should be support for GIF and progressive JPG.

  82. Briscoe says:

    I have to back up Chris above and request GIF in order to support previously existing content. Sorry folks. As good as PNG may be, it’s not taken over yet.

  83. N Rohler says:

    PNG’s sound nice – except for the 100k download. And, for better or worse, most of the world still uses gifs for web images.If gif support is added, I’d be very happy (especially if only 2k). For what I do, gif support would mean a lot more than png.

  84. PNG are a better choice for quality, but gif’s are still more popular and lot’s of people love animated gifs. One downside of gifs is that format is not very reliable, a bad gif can break a flash movie and in the old days even bring down good old MM Generator.

  85. CVT2 says:

    Claro está que es mejor el PNG porque muchas veces queremos importar algunas creaciones hechas en Fireworks MX ha Flash MX … así que es mejor el PNG… el gif… ya fue.

  86. Clint says:

    PNGPNGPNGPNGPNGPNG – My sixth sense

  87. Curupira says:


  88. Diego Lleo says:

    PNG!!! a muerte!!!

  89. soulhead says:


  90. Mike Mountain says:

    It would have to be GIF, purely on grounds of being backwards compatible, it’d make moving a site from HTML to a hybrid site a lot easier.I’d love PNG as well – but hey we can genrate swf’s that do everything png’s do, I don’t see much of a benefit of allowing run time PNG import.

  91. John Olson says:

    PNG hands down.

  92. Mike Klepper says:

    PNGs are great, but if GIF support were added, then developers can use Flash to make great content management systems!

  93. tangky says:


  94. CHI says:


  95. Ryan Liu says:

    PNG – Full alpha channel

  96. old9 says:

    Why NOT both?Can anyone tell my why?Why can’t?

  97. Manuel says:

    No doubt about it: PNG!!!!!PNG rules!!!!!!

  98. john says:

    Absitively posolutely: PNG

  99. nametaken says:

    png rulls ! 🙂

  100. skii says:


  101. nelson says:


  102. zinabrio says:

    PNG == open sourceGIF == licensemmmm…. PNG, of course!!!

  103. // chall3ng3r // says:

    png is cool 😀

  104. brian says:

    Although it seems like a runaway for .png, my employer has thousands of .gif files floating around and no way to load them into flash. But we also constantly run into the non-progresive .jpg issue too!

  105. Mario F says:

    I don’t understand the comments on “there are so many gifs out there”. As developers/designers we are not without our tools. Most, if not all, image editors out there have the ability to simply load a gif and save it as png. So… what exactly is the problem of having a gif world? lameness?I think PNG is a better solution for the reasons already stated by most. However, a 100k footprint is daunting when considering the need for some other improvements that may increase this even further.If there is currently a policy of “lets add a new image format”, I say PNG. Otherwise, my vote is: none.As far as progressive jpg… I don’t understand either. Same thing: Load the JPG, save it as non progressive. Furthermore, I cannot think of anything more ugly than a progressive jpg loading on my swf.

  106. William says:

    I think PNG would be better.

  107. The reason why GIF and progressive JPG is insteresting is because there are existing files that I want to use in my app. I don’t want to batch all the images into another format. In fact, for some projects I’m not able to. For example, mappoint generates .gifs. I don’t want to add another layer of a runtime server tool to change the .gifs into .jpg.I’m just trying to explain this position to Mario F.Thanks.

  108. Rob Walch says:

    Fireworks PNGs with layers and symbols and frames!!!!Actually while I’m at it, I would really like the Fireworks -authoring- import feature to be improved. bitmap elements, when imported to the library from FW layers should maintain the name they had in FW. Also FW symbols should remain symbols when brought into Flash… too many similar features are lost during import.

  109. I say gif. Why because due to macromedia depency on the PNG format, ie its the default file format for fireworks, its only a matter of time before they implement it any way. Cause the want people to use fireworks. So given a choice I say gif that way we end up with both LOL.

  110. Jim Goode says:

    Full PING support with Alpha channels. Basically any PING you can export out of Fireworks should be fully importable.I do not know the implications of the raw PNG Fireworks format itself. Layers, masks, frames, styles, etc. Seems to big really.But just the exported file would be better than any gif ever made.

  111. Matt Walker says:

    PNG please. I’m still using JGenerator just to allow me to load dynamically created GIF/PNG files as JPEG isn’t suitable for map images.

  112. CaffeineRush says:

    Definitely PNG. I know this echoes what has already been said, but wanted to add to the number of responses you’re getting. With the alpha channel support dynamic PNGs will allow us to create some really slick, extendable interfaces — think Media Center PC menu 😉 I have also run into progressive jpeg troubles more than once. I’m now resaving jpegs on the server via PHP to ensure they aren’t progressive, just so Flash can read them. Any chance we can throw that into the mix of enhancements?

  113. luwei says:


  114. adam says:

    gif’s would be much more practical for us, as it would allow us to load banners served from real live ad agencies directly into all-flash sites. png’s may be funcky for developers and artists but no one uses them in our ‘real world’

  115. wangzy says:


  116. eyezberg says:

    Both.Gif is much more widely used (see adam’s post) and still usefull as IE PNG transparency support can only be hacked so far;PNG is Fireworks native format, so I’ve been wondering ever since Flash allowed loading of images how came jpg was chosen.. Integrate your own tools, Macromedia! 🙂

  117. breath2 says:

    png better

  118. czy says:


  119. nKm says:

    hahaha! have anyone said GiF? PNG of course!

  120. Seth says:

    This discussion is everywhere. The consensus is that gif is easily made into png – if you won’t do it yourself, the server can easily script something like somegif.gif?png that will pass through all gif requests to a script that will give back a png if the “?png” is there. So if flash wanted to load a gif, it’d just scan to see if the extension was gif and then add “?png” to the filename before calling loadMovie.However, a png cannot be made into gif.Obviously, png is superior, backwards compatable, and more functional… and the choice for macromedia.Is the code to convert a jpg and gif to png really >100kb? why not just support png and then convert everything to it + make your footprint smaller that way?

  121. mm says:

    png for sure

  122. Jeff says:

    I was searching for a way to dynamiclly import gif’s into a swf when I ran accross this forum – I have over 60,000 gif’s on my web server – to change these to png would be a major headache (there are reasons I can’t just batch them). These are used on 14 websites (or more) I would like to be able to make use of them in Flash. Dynamic png loading does me no good. I didn’t create the files I just have to deal with them. Despite the overwhelming support to add png I think that in practical terms gif support would be a better addition at this time.

  123. Michael says:

    If it were up to me, I’d ditch both jpeg AND gif support, and go with all-PNG. Unfortunately, since PNG is still not fully supported by all browsers (hello, Internet Explorer), it’s not viable for wide-scale use. While I can also understand the desire to keep the player footprint small, who cares? It’s a one-time download, and the REAL size importance is in the .swf file format.I keep hearing talk of batch processing files, and I wouldn’t really mind doing this if it were required, but the images we use for both browser display and Flash display (non-progressive jpeg, grrr) would break when it comes to IE (still supported, despite the trash-talking).I say support them all, if this is a designer-intensive release. You’ve already built video alpha channel into FP8, why not 32-bit PNG?

  124. Steven says:

    Umm split.PNG is a better format for images, but the web is not just about that. I can see why designers want PNG.But, I get more requests by users and customers (not by designers) to upload GIF’s . Most dynamic HTML apps can upload pictures of themselves in a number of formats and see them in a browser. In this respect HTML is more robust. Gifs are not dead. They are ubiquotous on the web and to ignore them is a terrible mistake. The qualityis bad, but file size is small- that’s one reason why vector graphics are popular.

  125. Charlie says:

    In my opinion I would choose the PNG format. Michael you have a great point, but JPG is already supported, so this would cover customer’s requests. Developers generally use PNG format, so this would be a tremendious help!By the way any word on when/if this is going to be added to Flash ?

  126. natson says:

    PNG, of cos! :0

  127. thibaud says:

    PNG PNG PNG PNG PNG damnit.

  128. chavdar says:

    Imagine that you have a html gallery with both JPG and GIF pics..How can we make this gallery in Flash without support of GIFs?Maybe the gallery is not the only example..Anyway, PNG support is the most wanted by me too!But, both PNG and GIF is better..

  129. PNGer says:

    PNG , PNG ! yeah~~~~~ o_O

  130. joshua says:


  131. Amar says:

    zzzZZZ zzz PNGGGGGG huh!?!?! ok PNG zzzZZZ(what is this all about hmm)

  132. Toover says:

    PNG for sure! I am very disappointed seeing that flash still not supports it dynamically! It seems so obvious…