Following Atom renaming, GIF to be renamed PNG

Web development circles are abuzz this week with the news that the GIF graphics format is to be renamed PNG.

The renaming is intended to lessen confusion in the marketplace, said a spokesperson for CompuServe, the original developers of the GIF format. GIF was always intended as a portable network graphics format, and this just clarifies the issue.

It is suspected the renaming will also help GIF escape the stigma it acquired in the late 1990s when Unisys, owner of the patent for the LZW compression used in the format, began demanding royalties from software vendors.

The GIF renaming follows recent decisions by the developers of the Safari and Firefox Web browsers to rename the Atom syndication format as RSS. Their decision was based on similar grounds: Atom is used to provide Rich Site Summaries, just like the 27 different versions of RSS do.

Safari RSS is compatible with all the RSS feeds on the Internet because of its standards-based support for RSS 0.9, RSS 1, RSS 2 and Atom, an Apple marketer said. And boy, those new iMacs are nifty, aren’t they?

Firefox developers were similarly enthusiastic about renaming Atom, if not as enthusiastic about the iMacs. Renaming things is what Firefox is all about, said lead developer Jerry Badger. The browser itself has been through five names in the past three years, so it was only fair that we started renaming the formats we support too.

Neither Apple nor would comment on speculation that HTML, a portable document format, would soon be renamed PDF.

2004-10-05: The bug in Firefox has been fixed.