A Guide to Web Image Compression Software: PhotoGIF Filter

Software type:  GIF optimisers

Company: BoxTop Software, Inc.
URL: http://www.boxtopsoft.com/
Program: PhotoGIF Filter 1.0
Program URL: http://www.boxtopsoft.com/PhotoGIF/index.html
Platform: w95, mac
Type: GIF image compressor, palette optimiser, Photoshop plugin
Price: US$45


PhotoGIF is now available for Windows as well as the Mac. It's one of the original GIF palette optimisers, but these days it faces stiff competition. It's a filter plugin for Photoshop (or other image editor that uses Photoshop filter plugins). You invoke it, not surprisingly, from the "Filters" menu.

The opening screen is where you choose the palette and set the colour depth. When you've set the colour depth, you progress to the next screen which allows touch ups and tweaking. It shows a before and after window to let you see what you've accomplished before saving the file. On this screen (but not on the initial one) you can magnify the image to see the finer details. It allows you to select from a range of palettes, including web-safe. The Boxtop web page implies that you can edit individual colours in the palette, but this doesn't appear to be so, which is a pity. Also there's no "undo" button and you can't go back to the first screen once you've gone to the second.

Like other GIF tools, PhotoGIF allows you to set the transparency, using an "eyedropper" tool. A useful feature is the edging tool to clean up antialiased edges. It operates once you've set the transparent colour and chosen the background colour. This can be useful if the original image was created with antialiasing on a background different from the one you want to show it on. It avoids those messy dark or light GIF edges you see on some sites. The help is a bit rudimentary but the interface is clean and reasonably intuitive, so, unless you're very new to graphics processing, there's not much to confuse.

PhotoGIF is a good tool and shows that Boxtop have been in this business for quite a while.

The demo version won't allow you to save a file, unlike the earlier beta versions, which is rather irritating. As far as I can tell there's not much present in the demo version that wasn't also in the betas. There's a light version for the Mac (which was the original platform) but not for Wintel machines. The full program is a moderate download (814K for Windows). Worth your time to investigate.

April 1998 

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This information is Copyright © 1997 David Nicholls. These pages may be linked to, provided you don't embed them in frames, but may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the author.