Cloudinary Blog

Responsive Images Guide Part 3: Variable Image Encoding

Welcome to the latest edition of the Responsive Images Guide!

In part 1, I laid out the big idea: a responsive image is a variable image – which adjusts itself to fit variable contexts.

In part 2, we looked at the most common way that an image can do exactly that: scaling itself up and down to fit viewports of different sizes and screens with different densities.

Now, we turn our attention to a different axis of variability: variable image encoding.

What do I mean when I say, “variable encoding”? Two things:

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Responsive Images Guide, Part 1: What does it mean for an image to be “responsive”?

“Responsive.” Where did that term come from, anyways?

In his sea-changing essay, Responsive Web Design, Ethan Marcotte explained:

Recently, an emergent discipline called “responsive architecture” has begun asking how physical spaces can respond to the presence of people passing through them. Through a combination of embedded robotics and tensile materials, architects are experimenting with art installations and wall structures that bend, flex, and expand as crowds approach them. … rather than creating immutable, unchanging spaces … inhabitant and structure can—and should—mutually influence each other.

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Using smart-cropping for automatic art direction

Note: this article was originally published in Smashing Magazine.

Four years ago, Jason Grigsby asked a surprisingly difficult question: How do you pick responsive images breakpoints? A year later, he had an answer: ideally, we’d set responsive image performance budgets to achieve “sensible jumps in file size”. Cloudinary built a tool that implemented this idea, and the response from the community was universal: “Great! Now – what else can it do?” Today, we have an answer: art direction!

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An interview with Jason Grigsby about Responsive Images

In the conclusion of this three-part interview the Jason Grigsby, we examine what the future may hold for images on the web. Previously: Part 1, Part 2.

EP: I want to go back to the idea that we started with, that images are fundamentally complicated; that they’ll always present us with problems. What do you think we are going to be working on and talking about in five-to-10 years with regard to images?

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