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Web Graphics - Image Jargon

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A Useful Glossary ...

Do you want to lookup the meaning of a web graphics or image related word, name or file extension? This jargon buster can be used as a single name lookup for graphical terms or as an educational look through. Understand the meanings of many web graphics terms properly for the first time. The graphic design dictionary is not exhaustive and links to other useful lookup resources have been provided at the bottom of the page.

Term Meaning
align (HTML and CSS) The align attribute (or style) defines how an image (or other object) is positioned on the page.
alt An attribute of the HTML image tag. Text that gives an alternate description of an image which is used by browsers that are unable to display images, or when the image display has been disabled.
animated GIF A GIF89a file that contains multiple bitmap images that can be viewed as an animated sequence in a Web browser.
anti-alias Anti-aliasing is a technique used in graphics construction to minimize the 'jaggies' that you can see on lines that are not perpendicular or horizontal. The best way to see jaggies is on circles. The technique works by inserting pixels of a color intermediate between the object and it's background to 'blur' the edge, and so once done, the object is best viewed against that color background, and less so against others.
anti-aliasing Removes the jagged edge effect that occurs when object edges are rendered as pixels by blending the object's color with what is behind it. Anti-aliasing also refers to altering texture maps to prevent moire patterns.
aspect ratio The ratio of height to width of an image.
avi A type of video movie file used by Microsoft Windows and typically played using the Windows Media Player.
Bezier Curve A method of creating shapes based on the mathematical methods for defining curves pioneered by Pierre Bezier, noted French engineer, scientist, and academic teacher. The Bezier curve is defined by four points: two end points and two curve handles. You control the shape of the curve by manipulating the curve handles.
bitmap image An image, such as a GIF, JPG (JPEG), TIF (TIFF), PNG, PCX or BMP consisting of a pattern of monochrome or color pixels which create a picture.
bmp A 'Microsoft Windows Bitmap' image file (e.g. my-pic.bmp). Not much use on the Web because they can only be displayed in Microsoft browsers. Convert to 'png', 'gif' or 'jpg' format. This is the only graphics format where compression actually enlarges the file.
compress (file compression). (not to be confused with image optimization).
dithering An image processing technique that allows printers and monitors to produce images that appear to have continuous shades of gray or continuous shades of color. This simulation is achieved by grouping pixels of other colors and the human eye sees the grouped pixels as a mixed color. Dithering is useful when not enough colors are available on the printer or monitor, to exactly match a color in an illustration. Dithering is only useful on photographs or graded draws and there are many different dithering techniques. These include Bayer, Vertical Line, Coarse Fatting and Fatting.
gif A 'Graphics Interchange Format' image file (e.g. my-pic.gif). A standard for digitized images compressed with the LZW algorithm, defined in 1987 by CompuServe (CIS). Usually pronounced 'gif' but sometimes pronounced 'jif'.
gif89a A 'Graphics Interchange Format' image file (e.g. my-pic.gif). A Compuserve bitmap file.
grayscale (greyscale) Grayscale gives shades of gray without using a dither pattern. It is only useful for black and white photographs or black to white graded draws. If you plan to resize a photograph or graded draw then try converting the image to grayscale. The advantage of using grayscale is that the quality of the image is retained when resizing.
hotspot A defined area on an image map that, when clicked, activates an HTML or JavaScript HyperText link.
hotspot objects Defined areas on an image map that can be rectangles, circles or polygons.
hspace (HTML) Defines an equal amount of white space above and below an HTML Image. Measured in pixels.
imagemap There are two types of imagemaps, client-side and server-side.
interlace If an image is interlaced it is loaded on screen in it's entirety, starting at a low resolution. As the image continues to load, the image quality improves, from unfocused to clear. Not recommended if you are creating images.
ismap (HTML) Identifies an image as a server-side image map. Clicking the image transmits the coordinates of the click back to the web server, triggering a CGI program execution on the server. For this attribute to work the image must be inside an HTML ANCHOR (link) Tag which points to the CGI program on the server.
jpg (jpeg) (e.g. my-pic.jpg or my-pic.jpeg). Recommend you use the three character extension. A 'lossy' image file format that compresses the image file and is ideal for displaying photographic or gradient type images on web pages.
landscape An orientation that is wider than it is tall.
lowsrc (HTML) An attribute of the IMAGE Tag which allows you to specify the url of a low resolution substitute image that can be quickly loaded to give an indication of the image, while the full image is being loaded (not recommended).
map (see imagemap).
memory card Small cards that can store large amounts of computer data (e.g. images).
megapixel A measure of the amount of detail recorded by a digital camera. One megapixel describes an image made up of one million pixels (dots).
MP3 An industry standard for compressing digital audio. The sound quality is similar to CD audio.
MPEG An industry standard method for compressing digital video files.
opaque (opacity) Determines how much of an object's surface occludes (blocks the view of) those objects behind it.
optimize (image optimization) To reduce the size of an image by reducing the number of colors or reducing the color palette size, removing comment blocks and redundant pixels, eliminating local color palettes in an animation in favour of a global color palette, cropping frames in an animation so that each frame only stores information that is unique to that frame, etc. (not to be confused with file compression).
pixel (Acronym for picture element) A bitmap image is made up of dots (called pixels). The term 'dpi' stands for dots per inch (or pixels per inch) and a Windows screen is usually 96 dpi whereas a Macintosh screen is usually 72 dpi. The term also applies to scanners and digital cameras.
png A 'Portable Network Graphics' image file (e.g. my-pic.png).
portrait An orientation that is taller than it is wide.
resolution Typically, the dpi (number if dots per inch) used to display an image. Applies to printed matter, computer displays. etc.
src (HTML) SRC stands for the SouRCe of the image or other resource.
TFT The technology used to create thin, flat color screens for devices such as computer screens, digital cameras, etc.
transparent Some images look better if their background color matches the browser window, making the image appear to float in the window. You can't do this by setting the background color of the image, since you can't control how people will configure their browsers. You can control this by using GIF89a images, which have the ability to mark a single color in the colormap as transparent, forcing the browser to use its background color for those pixels in the image.
uri (Uniform Resource Indicator).
url (Uniform Resource Locater).
urn (Uniform Resource Name). Uniform Resource Names will be URI schemes that improve on URLs in reliability over time, including authenticity, replication, and high availability.
USB (Universal Serial Bus). A computer industry standard that allows the fast and simple connection of peripherals to computers.
usemap (HTML) The USEMAP attribute indicates that an image is a client-side image map. If the argument to USEMAP starts with a "#", the MAP is assumed to be in the same document as the IMG element.
vspace (HTML) Defines an equal amount of white space on both sides an HTML Image. Measured in pixels.
WMA (Windows Media Audio). A compressed digital music format developed by Microsoft.

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