JPEGs considered to be harmful for screenshots

by Volker Weber

Attached please find images of the Treo and Pocket PC with xxxxxxxx inbox screenshots saved out as tifs.

This ignorance is stunning. You request screenshots in TIFF format because JPEGs are unsuitable for print. Then some genius takes JPEGs and saves them as TIFF. Wow, I could not have done this myself.

This message goes out to all PR people: Screenshots should never be stored with lossy compression. There are three safe formats: BMP, PNG and TIFF. GIF would reduce the image to 256 colors and JPEG is simply unsuited for line art. The publisher may chose to use JPEG for publication on the web. You should however always keep your screenshots in a format without lossy compression. Before sending them out, you compress them with ZIP. That works amazingly well. A zipped BMP can be smaller than a JPEG.

While we are at it: It never ceases to amaze me, that IBM is unable to provide pictures and screenshots at Lotusphere. And if they do, they will all be not only in JPEG but also resized. The PR people are always so surprised that someone wants a screenshot. "Oh, I can get that to you. They should be somewhere in that Quickplace. Hang on a sec. Hmmh. Yes, I will send them to you by mail." Which never happens. And just to make sure, everyone on the floor is instructed to never give out any screenshots. I then tell them to forward the screenshots to the PR people with instructions to send them my way. That hardly ever works.

So how do I get them for c't? By sweettalking somebody into ignoring the broken process. It usually takes about 2 hours of my time to get one picture.

Update:It has now been 5 days since I requested screenshots and the vendor has yet to come up with something useful. The procedure takes actually less than 60 seconds flat.


It seems like the online people don't know a lot about print and vice versa. Me: "Please send me the picture of the newspaper ad, I want to use it on our web site." Ad agency "OK, I'll send you a PDF."

Joerg Richter, 2005-03-15

Re IBM: When I look at new software now, my first evaluation is always based on screenshots. If that test isn't passed, no download, no install.

To throw more fuel on the fire, Microsoft often posts PR material in Word format or using Windows only video codecs. I've seen them post, many times, evangelism material intended for non-customers, wrapped in an exe file (I use OS X almost exclusively). It seems that this is the only way they can display an EULA (I can't imagine why you would want to burden prospective customers with an End User License, but there you have it).

David Richardson, 2005-03-15

Mostly out of curiosity, what specs would you have for that TIFF? What print media are you using, two, four color? What resolution?

I mostly ask because I've seen several megabyte TIFF's that were going to be printed on a 300 DPI laser for a newsletter. That didn't make sense to me.

Otherwise, I agree if you ask for TIFF, they should know better than to take a jpeg at 70-80%, then convert to TIFF.

Eric Parsons, 2005-03-16

Try these.

1) Ask ad agency to supply TV ad on DVD. TV ad is 16:9 anamorphic and letterboxed (black bars top and bottom) - aspect ratio of the picture itself is 2.35:1.

DVD turns up with video in NTSC geomtery of 720x480 (in Britain, we use PAL; 720x576 but OK we can live with it), and has been authored with an aspect ratio of 4:3 without cropping (so everything looks tall and skinny). Had to edit DVD IFO files manually to correct it before we could use it!

2) New corporate ID manual includes colours. Colours are specified by agency as Pantone and CMYK. "Can we have RGB definitions for the web please", I ask. There follows a lengthy debate on why I need RGB (we always use Pantone). RGB values do eventually turn up (in a PDF file for some inexplicable reason). Here's a sample.

For Pantone 445, use RGB - R14 - G17.6 - B12.6

Why is it that media types don't understand modern media?

Chris Linfoot, 2005-03-16

Strange. Pantone 445 is R86 G89 B89 (#565959) according to this chart.

Volker Weber, 2005-03-16

@ Chris and Volker. I thought RGB *had* to be integers between 0 and 255 (inclusive)???

Eric Parsons, 2005-03-16

Eric, my numbers are in that range. The # number is hex. Chris was implying that the values he received were nonsense. Even on a 0...100 scale they would make no sense.

Volker Weber, 2005-03-16

Actually the numbers do appear to be on a 0-100 scale and, if multiplied by 2.55, rounded to the nearest integer and converted to hex they do give approximately the right answer.

Should I really have to do all that though?

Chris Linfoot, 2005-03-16

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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