Animated GIFs Have Grown Up

I’ll admit that I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Animated GIF, but I have to admit they’ve come a long long way.

So what you see above is the first thing that STILL comes into my mind when I think of animated GIFs. The actual creation/history of animated GIFs is pretty fascinating for me, since I started cutting my teeth on the web when JPEGs still weren’t main stream and we had GIFs for everything. Plus I know who what Compuserve actually was 8^D! I created an animated GIF for a website I helped out for back in the day as well that provided helpful language transition icon showing American/British English for a French website.

Sadly after that, it seemed like animated GIFs degraded into what you see on Homer’s web page (above) from an old episode of the Simpsons. While the animations were funny, they were murder on the processing speed and load time on your web browser, and people didn’t seem to care. Or the mesmerizing hamster dance that could have been the original rick roll, I’m not sure.

Somewhere along the way though, animated GIFs grew up. I suspect that once the “page load drag” was eliminated due to more powerful computers, they became more of an alternative as “flash bloat” started to clog up web pages. Sure we still have tons of silly things out there, but the biggest improvement is that we can use animated GIFs as “cheap video”.

The Trello team is providing the perfect example of how to harness animated GIFs for productive purposes. Thanks to screen recording tools like SnagIt out there, you can provide simple demonstrations without the overhead of video compression, audio, and making sure that your user has a compatible video player on their computer. These animated GIFs show up on Trello’s Google+ page when they announce new features. They’re quick, simple, small and effective. I like this. I want to see more of this.

Who knows what will happen with animated GIFs. While I’ve always been a little grumpy towards them I’m warming up a little bit more given their practical uses, but you probably won’t see this many in a blog post anytime soon. 8^D

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