A Guide to Web Image Compression Software: Quant 3.0 beta
Software type: GIF editor/optimiser
Quant is a utility to convert, edit and colour-reduce files into GIFs. It allows you to resize, crop, dither and palette edit images prior to converting them to the smallest size for Web application.
It has an excellent palette editor that allows you to add and remove palette entries. It allows you edit the hex values of colours by hand. It lets you modify existing palette entries and to select what colours it should omit. This is very handy indeed and unique among the programs I've tried.
It will allow you to load a range of pre-selected palettes (Net-safe, Windows etc etc). It has a batch mode that lets you select a global palette to apply to all images. It handles JPG, PCX, GIF, TGA, BMP, and ICO files.
As if it weren't a good package already, it also handles animated GIFs and AVI files as output. It will convert AVI frames into animated GIFs. It also optimizes ani-GIF frames to reduce repeated pixels, thus minimising the size.
The interface is quite well designed but takes a little getting used to. The help file provides what's needed by way of guidance, though the beta nature of this package shows up in one or two places, such as it not being able to find the help file and requiring pointing to it, if you've been operating in another location. There's no on-the-fly preview of what the output looks like, which is a pity. You have to save the file to see what the result looks like. The result is, however, usually very good. You also cannot "Save as", or even specify a file name, so your source file gets overwritten. This is annoying.
The installation is very simple - just unzip the files into a suitable location and run Quant. It generates several registry entries as you run it. I've not yet tried to uninstall it, but there seems to be no specific process, which means if you just delete the files you'll leave rubbish in the Registry. This is a bit annoying. I use ZDNet's InCtrl3 to track installation and running additions to the Registry, and I'd suggest you look at this if you do much trialling.
The trial version of Quant lets you launch the program 20 times - so if you want to try it out, don't log out without using it or you've wasted one trial run. The purchase arrangements are a bit complex - you have to order it by fax to Denmark. You can pay by credit card. The price is quoted in Danish Kroner, so the exact US$ price is variable with the exchange rate. Considering Quant's capabilites, it is a fair price.
If you handle GIFs regularly this is a program you should examine closely.
Links to information about web graphics compression, palettes and related matters of interest.
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