GIF wins Oxfords word of the Year 2012

Oxford American Dictionaries has announced the verb form of GIF as this years word of the year 2012!  But what is a GIF?

GIF is an image format used primarily for reduced file sizes, transparent backgrounds and short sharp repeating animations. The GIF image format was first introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and due to its very nature quickly became a popular and integral part of the web.

GIF image format allows us web designers to reduce the file size in a number of methods by adjusting and selecting individual colours as well as numerous other options. When creating websites its always crucial to bring the load time down to as little as possible, so designers will often select a GIF image over the use of JPG for this reason.

However the most common widespread use of GIF’s is for animation. In the early years these could be seen as the little spinning mail icons on a number of websites (and unfortunately still some today) whereas now most web users will use an animated GIF to enhance their twitter or forum profile image.

GIF is now sadly becoming a lesser used image with PNG offering online transparency at better quality and HTML5 allowing for coded animations and reduce load time. However they are still common place throughout the web and Oxford certainly deem the word good enough to be top dog this year! So we may not have seen the back of spinning email icons and dancing bananas just yet…