Mozilla Plans to Add Webp Support to Firefox

It’s probably too soon to tell if Webp will eventually replace popular image formats such as jpeg and png, but with both Mozilla and Google behind the idea, the odds in favor of Webp must be fairly good.

Mozilla, makers of Firefox and other things, is working on bringing support for the webp format to the Firefox web browser. WebP is an image format developed by Google (based on tech by a company Google acquired) that offers lossy and lossless compression. Google designed the format as an alternative to the aging jpeg image format promising smaller file sizes without reductions in image quality.

The company continued to work on WebP, and creates a lossless version that it would pit against the equally popular png format.

Google uses WebP on many of its properties. The use of the format may speed up the loading time of Google Play and other properties due to the smaller file sizes of images displayed on these properties.

The products use fallback mechanisms to display png or jpg images if a browser is used that does not support WebP.

Firefox and WebP

webp firefox

Mozilla did not want to implement WebP when it first came out, but seems to have changed its stance on the format since then.

A recent bug report on Bugzilla indicates that the company is adding WebP support to Firefox. It is unclear right now if WebP support will be available to all platforms, and when it is going to be released. It is clear from the list of attachments that WebP will be supported by Firefox for Android at the very least.

Plans are to implement WebP decoding but have the feature disabled at first. The preference image.webp.enabled is set to false by default which means that WebP format is not turned on in the browser.

Users need to enable it manually to turn it on. Before you load about:config to make the change, the preference has not landed yet in any Firefox channel, not even Nightly.

Once it does, you may do the following to enable it:

  1. Type about:config in Firefox’s address bar and hit enter.
  2. Confirm you will be careful.
  3. Search for image.webp.enabled.
  4. Double-click on the preference.

This sets the preference to true which means that it is enabled in Firefox. I suggest you test the implementation on Google’s Web Developer WebP gallery. Check if the images listed as WebP are indeed in that format, or provided as PNG instead.

If the former is the case, WebP is enabled and working correctly.

You are probably wondering what happened to Daala? Daala is an ambitious project by Mozilla and partners to create a next generation image and video codec.

Daala is not ready yet and won’t be for some time. It is unclear whether this played any role in Mozilla deciding to implement WebP.

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