Our team manages the web space at Microsoft Research which includes the research.microsoft.com site and publishing platform. Last year we started exploring the tech transfer of a Microsoft Research technology – JPEG XR – to our web platform. There were a couple of goals we intended to address with JPEG XR:
- Reduce the file size and download times for images published on research.microsoft.com. This was critical to our mobile efforts. Visitors to our site using smartphones and tablets need to be able to see high quality images without waiting for large files to download over cellular connections.
- We also wanted to make sure there was no extra effort required by Microsoft Research staff to create JPEG XR images. They publish images to research.microsoft.com each week and don’t need to fuss with encoding images using the JPEG XR tools offline.
To satisfy these goals we made the following changes to the research.microsoft.com platform:
- Updated the web publishing process to automatically encode JPEG images into JPEG XR format at .85 quality setting. For PNG images the JPEG XR encoding is a lossless setting. In both cases a check is made to see if the resulting JPEG XR file size is smaller; if true the file is made available along with the original JPEG or PNG file. Total JPEG and PNG images processed was 50,158 and 57,444 respectively.
- Added an IIS handler to the web servers which checks if site visitors downloading images are using IE10 and if true deliver JPEG XR images if available. The IIS handler will be available for download later.
We did a quick analysis after the platform changes and were pleased to see average download times reduced 45% [note: actual download time will vary by each site visitor’s browser/device/connection]. On file size the original JPEG, PNG image sizes were reduced by 50% on average. The other good news with these changes is no issues have been reported by Microsoft Research staff or have been detected in the platform since they were deployed in February. The tech transfer of JPEG XR to research.microsoft.com has been a success by all measures.
See Matt Uyttendaele’s blog post for more details on JPEGXR including the Photoshop plugin for creating JPEG XR output.