Cloudinary Blog

Your Web Image is Unnecessarily Bloated

Your Web Image is Unnecessarily Bloated

Images make up a majority of web content.But a lot of websites and applications that we browse aren’t always delivering the most optimal image format, size, quality and dimension.. . .

As a developer, it seems inefficient to serve a 2000kb JPEG image when we could compress images to optimize the performance without degrading the visual quality.

We are not new to this kind of responsibility. But our productivity will end up being questioned if we do not deliver fast. In order to do so, the community has devised several patterns to help improve productivity. Let's review few of these patterns based on their categories:

  • Optimized formats
  • Third-party Libraries
  • Third-party APIs

Optimized Formats

It is natural to use image formats such as PNG, JPEG and GIF. These three have been around for several years, but they each have characteristics that would make you choose one over another in certain cases. Additional formats have been introduced and some are being standardized in order to provide a better way to serve images in their best optimization level.

Examples

  • WebP
  • JPEG-XR
  • BPG

These optimized formats are, as a matter fact, a very good attempt at reducing the image bloat. Image formats are the means for achieving convenient optimization and compression without resorting to third-party solutions. Unfortunately, the image format battle continues, as there is inadequate support across all browsers, limitations, policies and other factors that make it hard to ensure every image format is consistently optimized.

Third-Party Libraries

You can also use third-party libraries to compress images. These libraries provide an exposed API method to which you can pass your image file, specify some compression argument, and have a compressed image returned for your configuration.

There is nothing wrong with writing your own solution, but we are trying to save time as well. These libraries are written based on some standard algorithms so it's fine to rely on them to some extent. However, they may not give you enough flexibility in terms of how compression is handled. It's hard to find a third-party library that takes a PNG file and delivers an optimally compressed lossless image.

Third-Party APIs

There are public and premium third-party APIs that could be used to process a bloated image, which is then returned to you as an HTTP response. This so far is the most easier to use because it just requires basic knowledge of HTTP to get your images compressed. It's not language or platform dependent which makes it a little more flexible than the others.

Examples:

Plus, you encounter the same issue as you do with third-party SDKs: It's hard to find that all-in-one-solution that is flexible enough to address your problem.

A Better Choice That Offers CDN

While the platforms discussed above are commonly used for compressing images, not one offers a comprehensive, intelligent solution for compression and optimization. Image delivery and upload may even become more complex when you need to serve your images via a content delivery network (CDN). This adds another layer of complexity to the problem.

But, what if there was a single tool that could:

  1. Upload, store and deliver images via CDN
  2. Transform images (dimension, color adjustment, etc)
  3. Compress images losslessly

Cloudinary is that solution. It’s a comprehensive image management tool that quickly and easily addresses your image concerns, eliminating the challenges and risks of image storage and management.

Cloudinary also intelligently addresses our image compression challenges. It uses image transformation features to give you control over the quality of your images, while giving you the option to automatically select quality and format.

What's most interesting about Cloudinary is that all these features are URL-based, which means you simply need to alter the URL to achieve the configurations you need. You also can use the provided SDKs if you prefer not to do URL manipulation.

Image Quality Transformation

The following image of a woman was delivered using Cloudinary (the upload mechanism is not covered but you can read about that here):

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg")
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg")
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman.jpg").image()
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman.jpg")
Java:
cloudinary.url().imageTag("woman.jpg")
JS:
cl.imageTag('woman.jpg').toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman.jpg")
React:
<Image publicId="woman.jpg" >

</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman.jpg" >

</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.BuildImageTag("woman.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().generate("woman.jpg")

It's delivered with this URL:

https://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/woman.jpg

This image weighs about 569kb. This is not a bad quality, but we can do better. Let's see how much we can adjust this image without losing visual quality:

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", :quality=>90)
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", array("quality"=>90))
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman.jpg").image(quality=90)
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: 90})
Java:
cloudinary.url().transformation(new Transformation().quality(90)).imageTag("woman.jpg")
JS:
cl.imageTag('woman.jpg', {quality: 90}).toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: 90})
React:
<Image publicId="woman.jpg" >
  <Transformation quality="90" />
</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman.jpg" >
  <cl-transformation quality="90">
  </cl-transformation>
</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(new Transformation().Quality(90)).BuildImageTag("woman.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().transformation(new Transformation().quality(90)).generate("woman.jpg")

https://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/q_90/woman.jpg

The q transformation property takes a variety of values, one of which is a range of 1 to 100 that indicates the quality in percentages. This is what we have applied above and the image was trimmed down to 123kb. We just eliminated 446kb, which is a great example of what we mean by the title of this article: "Your Web Image is Unnecessarily Bloated."

Let's go hard on this image and see what's the worst that can happen:

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", :quality=>40)
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", array("quality"=>40))
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman.jpg").image(quality=40)
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: 40})
Java:
cloudinary.url().transformation(new Transformation().quality(40)).imageTag("woman.jpg")
JS:
cl.imageTag('woman.jpg', {quality: 40}).toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: 40})
React:
<Image publicId="woman.jpg" >
  <Transformation quality="40" />
</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman.jpg" >
  <cl-transformation quality="40">
  </cl-transformation>
</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(new Transformation().Quality(40)).BuildImageTag("woman.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().transformation(new Transformation().quality(40)).generate("woman.jpg")

https://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/q_40/woman.jpg

I just took the quality down to 40 and trimmed down the size to 38kb, yet the visual quality of the image is partially degraded. By now you could imagine the bandwidth you’d be wasting because of the lack of compression.

Let's try 10 percent.

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", :quality=>10)
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", array("quality"=>10))
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman.jpg").image(quality=10)
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: 10})
Java:
cloudinary.url().transformation(new Transformation().quality(10)).imageTag("woman.jpg")
JS:
cl.imageTag('woman.jpg', {quality: 10}).toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: 10})
React:
<Image publicId="woman.jpg" >
  <Transformation quality="10" />
</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman.jpg" >
  <cl-transformation quality="10">
  </cl-transformation>
</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(new Transformation().Quality(10)).BuildImageTag("woman.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().transformation(new Transformation().quality(10)).generate("woman.jpg")

https://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/q_10/woman.jpg

Now the image is visually poor. This doesn't mean we can tell for sure that 40 percent is the perfect point. It could be 30, it could be 20, but we don’t know exactly To find a perfect quality, we can use the auto quality value rather than a rigid value:

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", :quality=>"auto")
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman.jpg", array("quality"=>"auto"))
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman.jpg").image(quality="auto")
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: "auto"})
Java:
cloudinary.url().transformation(new Transformation().quality("auto")).imageTag("woman.jpg")
JS:
cl.imageTag('woman.jpg', {quality: "auto"}).toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman.jpg", {quality: "auto"})
React:
<Image publicId="woman.jpg" >
  <Transformation quality="auto" />
</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman.jpg" >
  <cl-transformation quality="auto">
  </cl-transformation>
</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(new Transformation().Quality("auto")).BuildImageTag("woman.jpg")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().transformation(new Transformation().quality("auto")).generate("woman.jpg")

https://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/q_auto/woman.jpg

The auto value produces an image that weighs 45kb. This is easier and quicker than using a rigid value and guessing the perfect compression rate.

Auto Formats

In addition to quality transformations, you also can define automatic transcoding for your images. This enables Cloudinary to choose a suitable, and optimal, image format for the browser rendering the image:

Ruby:
cl_image_tag("woman", :fetch_format=>:auto)
PHP:
cl_image_tag("woman", array("fetch_format"=>"auto"))
Python:
CloudinaryImage("woman").image(fetch_format="auto")
Node.js:
cloudinary.image("woman", {fetch_format: "auto"})
Java:
cloudinary.url().transformation(new Transformation().fetchFormat("auto")).imageTag("woman")
JS:
cl.imageTag('woman', {fetch_format: "auto"}).toHtml();
jQuery:
$.cloudinary.image("woman", {fetch_format: "auto"})
React:
<Image publicId="woman" >
  <Transformation fetch_format="auto" />
</Image>
Angular:
<cl-image public-id="woman" >
  <cl-transformation fetch_format="auto">
  </cl-transformation>
</cl-image>
.Net:
cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(new Transformation().FetchFormat("auto")).BuildImageTag("woman")
Android:
MediaManager.get().url().transformation(new Transformation().fetchFormat("auto")).generate("woman")

https://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/f_auto/woman

Browsers, such as Chrome, support specific formats, like WebP, to improve performance . Cloudinary always knows when and how best to do this without losing the visual quality of the image.

Conclusion

You website images might be bloated or optimized to a certain level. You can use image formats, third-party libraries and APIs to optimize images, but they might not be as flexible as you need them to be.

Cloudinary offers a comprehensive image management solution that delivers and transforms images via URL-based APIs. You can utilize the transformation features for image optimization and compression.

You can sign up for a free Cloudinary account and see how easy it is to optimize images with its URL-based solution.

This post was originally published on Noupe.com

Christian Nwamba Christian Nwamba (CodeBeast), is a JavaScript Preacher, Community Builder and Developer Evangelist. In his next life, Chris hopes to remain a computer programmer.

Recent Blog Posts

Analyze and auto tag images with Amazon Rekognition

Knowledge is power. And if you allow your users to upload images, you also probably want to better understand what their images contain. Whether a photo is of a building, people, animals, celebrities, or a product, image processing and analysis can assist in further comprehension. The benefits of this knowledge can go beyond "merely" categorizing your content and making your image library searchable: drawing insights from user generated content can be very useful! What better way to learn more about your users than to analyze the images they upload and find out what they care about and then have the ability to display relevant content to them according to their interests or even match them with other users that share similar interests.

Read more
Automatically moderate your user uploaded images

Allowing your users to upload their own images to your website can increase user engagement, retention and monetization. However, allowing your users to upload any image they want to, may lead to some of your users uploading inappropriate images to your application. These images may offend other users or even cause your site to violate standards or regulations.

Read more
Cloudinary Uses Scale API to Focus on Image Compression

Here at Cloudinary, we provide a cloud-based tool that enables our users to compress images and video for their websites and apps. Our goal is to preserve the visual integrity of the content, but deliver the smallest file size to any device or browser to ultimately optimize website performance and end user satisfaction.

Read more
CloudinaryAndroid SDK

Developing applications for mobile consumption requires facing, and overcoming, some difficult challenges. Apps need to limit their RAM, CPU and battery usage while still performing the required tasks in a reasonable time frame. If too many background tasks are running, the mobile device can become sluggish, with the battery running out very quickly. Coordination with other apps is crucial to keep the device responsive and make the battery last longer.

Read more
forLoop: Nigeria Event on Building for The Next Billion Users

TL;DR

Since Google shared their intent for the next billion internet users, some African developers thought this was pointing right at them and they needed to act fast. The mission to bring the next billion users from Africa to the internet kicked off a storm of enthusiasm. This community event turned into a success story and this is a summary of what happened.

Read more